Novartis agrees to acquire Endocyte for $2.1bn
Novartis has announced its plan to acquire US based biopharmaceutical company Endocyte, which is focused on developing targeted therapeutics for cancer treatment. Under the terms of the agreement, Novartis will acquire all outstanding shares.
Endocyte uses drug conjugation technology to develop targeted therapies with companion imaging agents, including 177Lu-PSMA-617, a potential first-in-class investigational radioligand therapy (RLT) for the treatment of metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC). 177Lu-PSMA-617 targets the prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA), present in the majority of patients with mCRPC, and has shown promising Phase II data.
177Lu-PSMA-617 is currently being investigated in the Phase III global VISION clinical trial in men with mCRPC, a disease with limited treatment options and significant unmet medical need.
- Apple and Zimmer Biomet partner to improve the patient journey
- The Department of Justice has approved the merger of CVS and Aetna
- Top 10 healthcare startups 2018
If completed, the Endocyte acquisition would expand the Novartis RLT platform with both a potential near-term product launch and early-stage clinical development programmes. The deal would also enable Novartis to harness its research and development expertise to investigate the potential development of 177Lu-PSMA-617 for use in earlier lines of prostate cancer therapy.
"Novartis has a strong legacy of addressing unmet needs with transformative therapies and is building a leadership capability in new, technology-driven platforms that address some of the world's most complex health challenges, including cancer,” explained Liz Barrett, CEO, Novartis Oncology.
“This acquisition builds on our growing capability in radiopharmaceuticals, which is expected to be an increasingly important treatment option for patients and a key growth driver for our business. We are also excited about the opportunity to break into the prostate cancer arena with a near-term product that has the potential to make a meaningful impact for patients in great need of more options."
Advances in health "must ensure self-sovereign identity"
The UK government has announced that from September onwards COVID-19 vaccine passports will be necessary to gain entry into places with large crowds, such as nightclubs.
This has reignited the debate between those who believe having proof of vaccinations will enable people to gather in public places and travel safely, and those who view the digital certificates as an attack on personal freedom.
The arguments have increased in intensity since the recent announcement to drop COVID-19 restrictions in England, in a move to reopen the economy that has attracted fierce criticism both domestically and overseas.
Cross-party ministers are set to defy the government’s latest plans to introduce vaccine passports over civil liberties concerns. A number of MPs have already signed the Big Brother Watch declaration against “Covid status certification to deny individuals access to general services, businesses or jobs” in recent months.
However Mark Shaw, CEO of Tento Applied Sciences, says the Big Brother Watch campaign is based on false assumptions. “Big Brother Watch puts forward a compelling argument based around civil liberties, but some of the assumptions they make are simply incorrect” he says.
“For example, the BBW campaign claims that all Covid passes are discriminatory, counterproductive and would lead to British citizens having to share personal health information with anyone in authority, from bouncers to bosses. However, there are already privacy-first digital wallets that give individuals the freedom to store and share anonymised medical documents, work credentials and other types of documentation quickly, simply, and securely.
“I wholeheartedly agree that individuals should not be required to share their own personal health information with unknown third parties or with anyone in authority who demands it" Shaw adds. "But I strongly disagree with the suggestion that ‘events and businesses are either safe to open for everyone, or no one’. It creates a false dichotomy that either everyone is safe, or nobody is safe. If employers or event organisers don’t take action to properly manage workplace or venue safety, then they risk curtailing the safety and freedom of movement for the majority."
The subject of personal health data is under scrutiny in the UK at the moment, following controversial plans for the NHS to share patient data with third parties. These have been put on hold following public criticism.
Meanwhile a new report has found that the majority of the British public is willing to embrace digital healthcare tools such as apps and digital therapies prescribed by a trusted healthcare professional.
Shaw adds: “The vital point to make is this: innovations in health technology must ensure self-sovereign identity. This means the data held about an individual is owned by the individual and stored on their device. And, in the case of medical data, that data can be delivered from healthcare professionals to the device in an encrypted format, and the user chooses how they share their information."