16 April 2021


  • Covid-19: CureVac hopes to win regulatory approval for its Covid-19 vaccine by June – Financial Times
  • Billionaire plotting shake-up at GlaxoSmithKline: Activist investor Elliott builds stake in British drugs giant – The Daily Mail
  • ANGLE plc: First large-scale pharma services contract secured
  • Hospital waiting lists in England at longest since records began – The Guardian
  • Recursion Pharmaceuticals expands IPO to raise $436m – Bloomberg
  • Mediclinic International: FY21 trading update
  • SWM International completes acquisition of Scapa Group
  • Covid-19: Western warnings tarnish Covid-19 vaccines the world badly needs – The New York Times
  • Thermo Fisher expands pharma service business with $17.4bn PPD acquisition – Reuters
  • WHO sounds alarm on drug-resistant bacteria – Financial Times
  • Vicarious Surgical to go public in $1.1bn SPAC deal – Mass Device
  • Covid-19: Merck’s Covid-19 push narrows further – Evaluate Vantage

Upcoming events

Erika Solomon at the Financial Times writes that CureVac has said it is hoping to win regulatory approval for its Covid-19 vaccine in May or June and will aim to produce up to 300m doses this year and 1bn in 2022. Like Moderna and the BioNTech/Pfizer partnership, CureVac’s jab uses mRNA technology but, while its rivals have raced ahead having won emergency regulatory approval, the Tübingen-based company has fallen almost six months behind schedule.Financial Times >>
Lucy White at The Daily Mail writes that infamous activist investor Elliott Management has snapped up a multi-billion pound stake in GlaxoSmithKline as it prepares to launch a shake-up of the FTSE100 drug-maker. Elliott, run by US billionaire Paul Singer, has accumulated a ‘significant’ position in the underperforming company in a move which could set the stage for a blockbuster boardroom battle. Shares jumped 4.6% as the raid caught the City by surprise.The Daily Mail >>
ANGLE plc announced that the Company has secured its first large-scale pharma services contract. The customer, a pharma company with numerous cancer drugs under development and revenues exceeding $1bn per annum, has selected ANGLE’s Parsortix system to undertake longitudinal monitoring (i.e. before, during and after drug intervention) of patients in three separate global clinical trials in prostate cancer and other locally advanced and metastatic solid tumours. The contract is expected to be worth up to $1.2m over some 18 months.ANGLE plc >>
Robert Booth at The Guardian writes that hospital waiting lists in England are longer than at any time since records began and nearly 388,000 people have waited more than a year to start treatment. The NHS England data for February exposes the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the health service. About 4.7m people are now waiting for hospital treatment, the highest number since at least August 2007. The number of people waiting for 52 weeks or more is higher than at any time in more than 13 years.The Guardian >>
Michael Hytha at Bloomberg writes that Recursion Pharmaceuticals, which uses machine learning to hunt for new therapies, raised $436m in an upsized initial public offering priced at the top of a marketed range. The company sold about 24m shares for $18 each. The company, which marketed the shares for $16 to $18, has increased the number of shares to be sold twice. Recursion reached a deal with Bayer in September to use AI to find new drugs for lung fibrosis and other fibrotic diseases.Bloomberg >>
Mediclinic provided a trading update ahead of its full year results scheduled for May. Dr Ronnie van Der Merwe, CEO, said, “Despite the more severe second wave of the pandemic placing even greater demand on our healthcare facilities and people, we have adapted well through agility and resilience to deliver a solid second half performance with revenue growth of around 1.0%. We are well positioned to deliver growth in revenue and EBITDA across all three divisions in FY22 despite further waves of the pandemic expected in the coming months”.Mediclinic >>
Schweitzer-Mauduit International has finalised its acquisition of Scapa. The newly combined company’s annualised sales are approaching $1.5bn. SWM CEO Dr Jeffrey Kramer said, “The combination of Scapa and SWM results in a complementary global organisation with robust design and manufacturing capabilities and significant technical expertise. The expanded company is poised to capitalise on the many exciting growth opportunities across our end-markets.”Schweitzer-Mauduit International >>
Benjamin Mueller at The New York Times writes that safety worries about some Covid-19 vaccines have jeopardised inoculation campaigns far beyond the United States, undercutting faith in two sorely needed shots and threatening to prolong the coronavirus pandemic in countries that can ill afford to be choosy about vaccines. With new infections surging on nearly every continent, signs that the vaccination drive is in peril are emerging, most disconcertingly in Africa.The New York Times >>
Carl O’donnell at Reuters writes that medical device maker Thermo Fisher Scientific said it would acquire contract researcher PPD for $17.4bn as it looks to add more muscle to its pharmaceutical services business. Thermo Fisher, the world’s largest maker of scientific instruments, will pay $47.50 per share – a premium of 24% above PPD’s $38.36 closing price before news of the deal was first reported. Over the past few years, Thermo Fisher has doubled down on boosting its pharma service business.Reuters >>
Donato Paulo Mancini at the Financial Times writes that the World Health Organization has warned none of the antibiotics currently being developed against antimicrobial resistance are enough to tackle drug-resistant bacteria that are expected to kill millions by 2050. The WHO said that none of the 43 such drugs in the pipeline addressed the 13 most dangerous superbugs it had identified. Research suggests the spread of bugs that tolerate drugs kills about 700,000 people a year, a figure that could rise to 10m by 2050.Financial Times >>
Chris Newmarker at Mass Device writes that Vicarious Surgical will go public through a $1.1bn special purpose acquisition company deal with D8 Holdings. The acquisition will add more than $425m in cash to Vicarious’s balance sheet upon the deal’s close. The move comes nearly a year and a half after FDA provided Breakthrough Device Designation for Vicarious’ robot, which includes features such as arms that replicate human motion.Mass Device >>
Madeleine Armstrong and Jacob Plieth at Vantage write that Merck & Co had already bowed out of the Covid-19 vaccine arena. Now its efforts at developing a therapy for the virus have taken a step back too. The company said that it was discontinuing development of MK-7110, which it gained through its $425m buyout of Oncoimmune, in hospitalised Covid-19 patients. As for its second big hope, the oral antiviral molnupiravir, Merck has scrapped a trial in hospitalised patients; all expectations for the project now rest on a pivotal study in outpatients.Vantage >>
  • Canaccord Horizons in Oncology Virtual Conference (15 April)
  • RBC Virtual Biopharma Team Doctor Day Series: Rheumatology/Inflammation/Dermatology (16 April)
  • Jefferies: Biopharma Doctor Panel Day (22 April) 
  • International Conference on Pharmaceutics and Drug Discovery (27 April)
  • World Vaccine Congress (4-6 May)

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