Biogen

Touting their “commitment to openness,” AbbVie, Biogen and Pfizer last week launched a web-based tool giving access to results from analyses of whole exome sequencing data from 300,000 UK Biobank participants—producing “the world’s largest browsable resource linking rare protein-coding genetic variants to human health and disease,” according to a joint press release.

The initiative may also be an effort to comply with government- and Wellcome-backed Biobank requirements to share…

Neuroscience specialist Biogen announced last week that it has struck an all-cash $1.5 billion deal with Massachusetts-based Sage Therapeutics to jointly develop and commercialize two of Sage’s psychiatric and neurological disorder drugs in the United States. One of the drugs—zuranolone—won a U.S. FDA Breakthrough Therapy designation for major depressive disorder in 2018.

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As the United States eclipsed China in confirmed cases, more vaccines neared human trials and funders made over $330 million in new commitments to fight Covid-19.

The week’s noteworthy developments included:

Vaccines

On vaccines, the University of Oxford announced today that it has begun recruiting volunteers for clinical trials—set to begin in weeks—of ChAdOx1 nCov-19, its adenovirus vector-based shot.

Sanofi announced today a collaboration with Massachusetts…

Progress continued on vaccines, treatment and tests for Covid-19 over the past week as WHO declared the disease a pandemic and funders announced more grants.

Vaccines

On vaccines, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) announced two new grants this week: $4 million supporting Novavax’s use of recombinant protein nanoparticle technology to develop vaccine candidates, and a smaller amount to fund the University of Oxford’s candidate search using its…

Novartis said last week that it will charge $2.1 million for a course of its new pediatric spinal muscular atrophy gene therapy after the U.S. FDA approved the one-time treatment.

The announcement makes Zolgensma the world’s most expensive drug—drawing media and patient advocacy group criticism.

Novartis countered that the company is developing outcome-based agreements and pay-over-time plans with payers, while its cure will cost half the price of 10 years of the current chronic…

Setbacks in large drug programs hit pharma companies last week. First, Johnson & Johnson announced that it is taking a nearly $700 million impairment charge after abandoning its respiratory syncytial virus and human metapneumovirus drug development program, Reuters said.

Separately, Biogen lost more than $18 billion in market value after ending two late-stage trials of its Alzheimer’s disease drug, aducanumab. According to Reuters, the impact of the news on product development…

Harvard Business Review (HBR) included three pharma leaders in its annual list of The Best-Performing CEOs in the World.

Novo Nordisk’s Lars Rebien Sørensen—who will leave the company at the end of this year—topped HBR’s list for the second year in a row. Biogen’s George Scangos and Eisai’s Haruo Naito were ranked 21 and 87, respectively.

HBR selected CEOs based on their “long-term performance” and “environmental, social and governance rankings.” It excluded CEOs who have been in…