Jazz drug for tremor fails study; Radiopharma drug developer ITM swaps CEOs

Today, a brief rundown of news from Jazz Pharma, Vanda Pharmaceuticals, ITM, Ashibio and Novartis that you might have missed from earlier in the week.

An experimental medicine that Jazz Pharmaceuticals picked up in 2019 has failed a mid-stage study testing it against essential tremor. Researchers evaluated three doses of the medicine in 420 participants. They found the highest dose didn’t meet the study’s main or secondary goals, though there were “numeric improvements” that hinted at some benefit. According to Jazz’s research and development head, the company will wait for results from a separate trial focused on Parkinson’s disease tremor before making a decision on next steps for the program. Those data are expected to come early next year. — Jacob Bell

Vanda Pharmaceuticals‘ board of directors on Thursday rejected two offers to acquire the company, determining that unsolicited bids from Cycle Group Holdings and Future Pak “substantially undervalue” the company. Cycle Group Holdings had proposed to acquire Vanda for $8.00 per share, while Future made a revised bid to buy the company for $8.50 to $9.00 per share in cash plus certain contingent value rights. Vanda shares have risen by 34% this year and now trade around $6 apiece. — Delilah Alvarado

Steffen Schuster, CEO of radiopharmaceutical drug developer ITM, will step down from his position Sept. 1 and move over to the company’s supervisory board. He will be replaced by Andrew Cavey, who most recently was at Bristol Myers Squibb as an executive overseeing cancer cell therapy. Prior to Bristol Myers, Cavey was at Novartis, where he co-led the company’s radiopharmaceutical strategy in prostate cancer. ITM recently raised $205 million. — Ned Pagliarulo

Ashibio emerged from stealth Thursday with $40 million in seed and Series A financing, the latter of which was led by MPM BioImpact. The funding will help the biotechnology company advance a new therapy for the rare genetic disorder fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva, which gradually causes muscles and tendons to ossify into bone. Ashibio licensed from Gilead Sciences an antibody called andecaliximab that targets the MMP-9 gene, mutations in which appeared protective in a notable case study. The company plans to initiate a Phase 2/3 trial in the second half of 2024. — Delilah Alvarado

Novartis intends to “squeeze out” the remaining minority shareholders of Morphosys who have not tendered their shares to the former company’s acquisition of the German biotechnology firm. Novartis currently holds 91.04% of Morphosys’ total share capital and plans to transfer the remainder to itself for cash compensation. Novartis and Morphosys are also moving to delist the biotech’s stock from the Frankfurt and Nasdaq stock exchanges. — Ned Pagliarulo

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