Global Pharma Briefs: News from AstraZeneca, Takeda, Novartis, and BI

A roundup of news from Germany (BI), Latin America (Takeda), Singapore (Takeda), Switzerland (Novartis), the UK (AstraZeneca, Serum Institute of India, Touchlight), and the US (Verrica).


BI Acquires Immuno-Oncology Company Abexxa Biologics
Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) has acquired Abexxa Biologics, an Arlington, Texas-based bio/pharmaceutical company focused on immuno-oncology.

The acquisition will allow BI to access Abexxa’s expertise in targeting cancer-specific proteins that are located inside the cell, rather than those expressed on the cell membrane. BI aims to develop cancer therapies by using Abexxa’s technology and antibody-based drugs.  

The acquisition includes an undisclosed upfront payment, milestones, and other consideration payments. Abexxa will continue to operate in the Arlington, Texas area as a BI family company, collaborating with BI’s US research site in Ridgefield, Connecticut.

Source: Boehringer Ingelheim

Latin America

Takeda To Divest Select Non-Core Assets in Latin America
Takeda has agreed to divest a portfolio of five pharmaceutical products, mostly prescription drugs, sold in Latin America, to Adium Pharma, a Montevideo, Uruguay-based bio/pharmaceutical company.

The prescription gastroenterology assets include: pantoprazole, alevian, dexlansoprazole, riopan, and Faktu (policresulen/cinchocaine). Adium operates in 18 Latin American countries with a commercial portfolio that includes branded generics and innovative pharmaceutical licensed products.

Takeda remains responsible for developing and delivering these products to Adium over the next five years. The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2021, subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions.

Source: Takeda


Takeda Invests $14-M To Expand Biologics Site with Energy-Efficient Building 
Takeda is investing $14 million to expand its global biologics manufacturing and supply network in Woodlands, Singapore with the addition of a new zero-energy building.

Located next to Takeda’s biologics manufacturing plant in Woodlands Wafer Fab Park, Takeda’s new zero-energy building is planned for occupancy by 2022. The company says the building is the first net-zero carbon emissions building in its global network.

Takeda says it is committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions in its own operations by 2040, in line with the Singapore government’s COemissions target.

Source: Takeda


Novartis Acquires Gene-Therapy Company Arctos Medical
Novartis has acquired Arctos Medical, a Swiss start-up developing optogenetic adeno associated virus-based gene-therapies.

Arctos developed its technology as a potential method for treating inherited retinal dystrophies and other diseases that involve photoreceptor loss, such as age-related macular degeneration.

Source: Novartis and Arctos Medical


Serum Institute of India To Invest $68.5-M in Oxford Biomedica

Serum Life Sciences, a subsidiary company of Serum Institute of India, a Pune, India-based vaccine manufacturer, has agreed to invest approximately £50 million ($68.5 million) in Oxford Biomedica, a developer of cell and gene therapies and a contract manufacturer.

The proceeds of the investment will be used to fund expansion o Oxbox, Oxford Biomedica’s 84,000-square-foot manufacturing facility based in Oxford, UK, into a manufacturing space and the validation of several independent suites, expected to come on line in mid-2023.

Oxford Biomedica’s manufacturing facility was constructed during 2019 and the first phase of development, totaling 45,000 square feet, consisted of four manufacturing suites, two fill-finish suites, and supporting areas such as warehouse, cold-chain facilities and quality-control laboratories. Three suites are currently dedicated to producing a COVID-19 vaccine at 1,000-L scale, and one suite is producing lentiviral vector-based products for Oxford Biomedica’s other partners.

The remaining 39,000 square feet will be developed using the proceeds of the investment and is expected to include manufacturing capacity for viral vector-based products, including vaccines.

Source: Oxford Biomedica

AstraZeneca, VaxEquity Enter into $195-M RNA-Therapeutics Pact

AstraZeneca and VaxEquity, a Cambridge, UK-based company developing RNA therapeutics and vaccines, have entered into an agreement for the discovery, development, and commercialization of VaxEquity’s self-amplifying RNA (saRNA) therapeutics platform, in a deal worth up to $195 million.

The long-term research collaboration aims to validate VaxEquity’s saRNA platform, developed at Imperial College London, and apply it to advance therapeutic programs. AstraZeneca will support VaxEquity with research and development funding and should AstraZeneca advance any of the research programs into its pipeline, VaxEquity could receive development, approval and sales-based milestones totaling up to $195 million and royalties in the mid-single digits per program. AstraZeneca has the option to collaborate with VaxEquity on up to 26 drug targets and will also make an investment in VaxEquity to further the development of the saRNA platform.

Source: AstraZeneca and VaxEquity

Touchlight Gets $125 M in Funding To Expand DNA Mfg; Other Updates
Touchlight, a London-based bio/pharmaceutical company, has raised £92 million ($125 million) to fund synthetic DNA manufacturing and other growth initiatives.

Touchlight is expanding its Hampton, London-based facilities to enable production of up to 1 kilogram of DNA per month. The expansion is scheduled to be operational in the second quarter of 2022.

Additionally, Touchlight is expanding its team, with anticipated growth to more than 125 employees by the end of this year (2021). This expansion includes assembling commercial and marketing operations in the UK and North America.

Source: Touchlight


Verrica Gets FDA Complete Response Letter for Mfg Issues
Verrica Pharmaceuticals, a West Chester, Pennsylvania-based dermatology therapeutics company, has been issued a Complete Response Letter (CRL) by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for manufacturing issues for VP-102, a treatment for molluscum contagiosum, a viral skin disease.

According to the CRL, the FDA identified deficiencies at a facility of a CMO, which are not specifically related to the manufacturing of VP-102, but raise general quality issues at the facility. The FDA did not identify any clinical, safety or product specific chemistry, manufacturing, and controls deficiencies related to VP-102.

Source: Verrica Pharmaceuticals