The vaccine market in 2013 was around $24B, however certain delivery platforms for vaccines are denigrated by whether it is cold chain transported, freeze-dried or in liquid form, with cold chain being the best. Public health organizations are advocating for innovations in the stabilization of vaccines. With diseases such as Ebola and Bird Flu, despite vaccine deniers who are a scourge in and of themselves, we need to do more. This is something we should be looking at. http://bit.ly/1AeCceo
Damian Garde of FierceBiotech is watching the opening of a multibillion dollar industry. What is it? It is Checkpoint inhibitors, antibodies that unblind the Immune System to previously unseen tumors to help the body's own T-cells combat the growths. There are 15 smaller 2014 Fierce winners in this space including: Adaptimmune, Sutro Biopharma and Aduro BioTech; billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong's NantWorks; and more. http://bit.ly/1Bkb0ZS
We have seen a lot of point of care diagnostics come and go, including the very interesting acquisition by Roche of iQuum in April for $275 million up front and up to $175 million in milestone payments. http://bit.ly/1BkWhOw The iQuum cobas Liat System is the only FDA-cleared molecular diagnostic platform to offer PCR results in real time, and Roche announced this week that it launched tests in both Influenza A/B and Strep A. This platform is interesting and we should keep an eye on what other assets Roche will add to this portfolio. http://prn.to/1CVL6zX
I recently wrote about the growing interest in bi-specific anti-bodies, when we discussed the Xencor/Novo deal http://bit.ly/1Az334E This week Roche announced that it would pay $488M for Austria’s Dutalys which has a platform for discovering and developing bi-specific antibodies, which can bind to multiple antigens at the same time. Dutalys has fully humanized bi-specific antibodies, which is novel. Keep an eye on this area for more deals and M&A. http://bit.ly/1zBzlYR
Several articles recently highlighting the exclusive Hepatitis C pharmacy deal struck between Express Scripts (ESRX) and AbbVie (ABBV) as a death knell to the Biotech Bull Market and the virtual end of the Blockbuster Franchise. Allowing drug pricing to shift from the producer to the insurance carriers and pharmacy benefit managers has been coming for a long time. We have expected that this will occur in other very high priced specialty fields such as cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. Let’s be honest, we knew a change had to come, Gilead priced its two Hepatitis C treatments meds at $1,000 per pill and up $84,000 per 12-week treatment course for Sovaldi and $95,000 for combo medicine Harvoni. Abbvie made a smart play, the real winner is Express Scripts. We will see what happens to the Bull Market… http://bit.ly/175W0FW
Ben Fidler of xconomy (www.xconomy.com) noted this week that ImmusanT raised $12.0 million this week from Vatera Healthcare Partners. Three things to note here that are important: (i) ImmusanT’s product is a vaccine for celiac disease, celiac is important and anyone who develops a product in this area will generate revenue (ii) Vatera is “smart money” so keep an eye on ImmusanT, and (iii) celiac is gluten intolerance and it is largely held to be modulated by the gut microbiome. Currently the Mayo Clinic is examining the composition of the intestinal microflora and its linkage to disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, including gluten sensitivity and the risk of irritable bowel syndrome-like (IBS) symptoms. Keep an eye on guy microbiome companies like Ritter Pharmaceuticals, Second Genome, and Seres Health http://bit.ly/1zV0efA
JPM analysts this week offered their picks for stocks to watch in 2015. Among the top picks were Alexion (ALXN) and Jazz Pharmaceuticals (JAZZ). Readers of my previous blogs will have noted that these picks should have already been in the portfolio in 2013 and again in 2012. Really I am not that smart …. http://bit.ly/1zBuwPj
An interesting thought in an article by Tara Lachapelle and Brooke Sutherland from Bloomberg.com about the M&A outlook for 2015. They are spot on about Pfizer’s (PFE) need to do “something.” Not sure Abbvie (ABBV) is the cure for Pfizer but it is an interesting thought and not one I had. http://bloom.bg/13Leycj
Editor's Note: Seth Yakatan is a founder of Katan Associates and is currently serving as Vice-President of Business Development for Invion, Ltd. (ASX:IVX) and is a founder of Katan Associates. Seth has been professionally involved in the biotechnology industry for the past 15 years.
Invion, Ltd., is a clinical-stage drug development company focused on the development of treatments for major market opportunities in inflammatory diseases including asthma, chronic bronchitis and lupus. Website: www.InvionGroup.com
Seth, and his late father, Stan Yakatan, started Katan Associates over 15 years ago parlaying Stan's work as a thought leader in the nascent industry from the late 1980's to this year. Katan Associates provides strategic advice to leading corporate biotech companies. It's early work with emerging growth companies led to creation of the Technology Corridor of Souther California and continues to this day. Look anywhere in San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, Boston, Israel, Canada, etc., and you can see the work of Katan Associates.
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