Good day. A bill in Congress aimed at lowering prescription-drug
prices would derail biotechnology venture investment, venture
capitalists said in a press conference Wednesday.
The bill, H.R. 3, would enable Medicare to negotiate with
drugmakers for certain expensive and commonly used drugs, and these
prices couldn't exceed 120% of the drug's average price in a group
of international countries, The Wall Street Journal has reported.
If companies refused to negotiate or didn't agree to the price,
they would be subject to an excise tax of up to 95% of that drug's
Supporters of the bill have said it is needed to curb what they
see as unjustified drug price hikes.
In a news conference in Washington, organized by Incubate, a
coalition of life sciences venture capitalists, venture investors
said such measures amount to price controls that would cause
biotech venture funding to collapse.
Speakers included Peter Kolchinsky, a managing partner of RA
Capital Management, Jean-François Formela, a partner with Atlas
Venture, Arjun Goyal, a managing director of Vida Ventures, and
In an interview, Incubate Executive Director John Stanford said
biotech venture capitalists' winning companies have to compensate
for the losses they take on those that don't pan out, and then
If price controls are enacted on drugs, investment will no
longer flow to innovative new biotech treatments, he said.
And now on to the news...
Medical-device reimbursement. Some venture capitalists and
entrepreneurs say investment in medical devices could fall if
Medicare scraps a proposed rule to speed up its coverage of
breakthrough medical technologies over concerns it could put
patients at risk.
It often takes years for medical-device companies to secure
Medicare coverage after products earn Food and Drug Administration
approval. A rule proposed by Medicare would speed that process by
tying temporary coverage by the national health insurance program
to FDA authorization of certain medical devices.
Devices would qualify for four years of Medicare coverage when
the FDA deems them breakthrough technologies for treating or
diagnosing life-threatening or debilitating diseases. After that
period, manufacturers would need to seek permanent coverage to
ensure Medicare reimbursement. Several medtech industry watchers
hoped it would go into effect this year.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services this week urged
scuttling the proposed rule, citing objections, including ones over
different standards Medicare and FDA use to review devices. CMS
will issue a decision on the proposed rule after a 30-day comment
The amount raised by U.S. medical-device startups during the
first half of this year, on pace to top the total collected in all
of 2020, according to Silicon Valley Bank.
FTC Moves Toward Stricter Antitrust Scrutiny of Vertical
A divided Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday withdrew
guidelines adopted just last year on how the government reviews
so-called vertical mergers of companies that don't directly compete
with one another, the latest signal the agency is looking to
escalate antitrust scrutiny of deal making, The Wall Street Journal
reports. FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan, during a virtual public meeting,
said she was concerned that the recent Trump-era guidelines gave
too much credit to business efficiencies and other potential
upsides of vertical mergers while not fully recognizing the harms
that some of those deals could create in the marketplace.
Aldrich Capital Hits $450 Million Hard Cap for Second Fund
Lower midmarket growth firm Aldrich Capital Partners has secured
$450 million for its second investment vehicle, hitting its hard
cap amid strong demand from institutional investors, WSJ Pro's
Chris Cumming reports. The vehicle, Aldrich Capital Partners Fund
II, exceeded both the firm's $350 million target and the $256
million that Aldrich raised for its first fund, which closed in
June 2018. Based in Vienna, Va., Aldrich focuses on healthcare
information technology, financial technology and application
software companies, typically backing those with revenue of $10
million to $30 million, said Mirza Baig, an Aldrich managing
European biopharma investor BioGeneration Ventures appointed
Keno Gutierrez as partner, and Wouter Verhoeven as venture partner.
Mr. Gutierrez was previously vice president at M Ventures. Mr.
Wouter was chief business officer at NBE-Therapeutics.
Clinical pharmacy services provider Aspen RxHealth appointed
Chris Dattaro as chief operating officer. He was most recently the
regional general manager of Lyft's transit, bikes and scooters
business for the Mid-Atlantic region. In January, Aspen RxHealth
said it raised a $23 million Series B round led by Bessemer Venture
Kyverna Therapeutics Inc., a cell therapy company engineering a
new class of treatments for serious autoimmune diseases, appointed
Karen Walker as chief technology officer and Ian Clark as chair of
the company's board. Ms. Walker joins the company from
Roche/Genentech, where she was senior advisor, cell and gene
therapy manufacturing. Mr. Clark was previously chief executive of
Genentech. Emeryville, Calif.-based Kyverna is backed by Westlake
Village BioPartners, Vida Ventures and Gilead Sciences.
Neogene Therapeutics Inc., a developer of T-cell receptor
therapies to treat cancer, named Han Lee to the post of chief
financial officer. He most recently held the same position at
Arcellx Inc. Neogene Therapeutics, which is based in Santa Monica,
Calif. and Amsterdam, last year raised a $110 million Series A
round led by EcoR1 Capital, Jeito and Syncona.
AltruBio Inc., a developer of novel therapeutics for the
treatment of immunological diseases, added Jesse Hall as chief
medical officer. He was previously executive vice president and
chief medical officer at Sublimity Therapeutics. Earlier this year,
San Francisco-based AltruBio raised a $63 million Series A round
from aMoon, BVF Partners and CAM Capital.
Scientist.com, which operates a marketplace for outsourced
pharmaceutical research, acquired InsideScientific, an online
educational platform for life science researchers. Terms weren't
disclosed. Solana Beach, Calif.-based Scientist.com is backed by
investors including Transformation Capital, 5AM Ventures, Heritage
Provider Network and Bootstrap Ventures Partners.
Enterprise healthcare operations provider symplr agreed to
purchase Halo Health, a clinical communication and collaboration
software startup, for an undisclosed amount. Houston-based symplr
is backed by private equity firms Clearlake Capital Group and
Charlesbank Capital Partners. Halo Health, of Cincinnati, is backed
by Bain Capital Ventures.
Vanqua Bio, a Chicago-based startup developing next-generation
medicines for neurodegenerative diseases, closed an $85 million
Series B round. Omega Funds led the investment, which included
participation from OrbiMed, Surveyor Capital, Avoro Ventures,
Casdin Capital, Pontifax Venture Capital, Eli Lilly & Co.,
Logos Capital and Osage University Partners.
Rome Therapeutics, a Cambridge, Mass.-based startup developing
novel therapies for cancer and autoimmune diseases, completed a $77
million Series B investment led by Section 32. Additional new
investors Sanofi Ventures, Casdin Capital, Andreessen Horowitz and
Alexandria Venture Investments also participated in the round,
along with previous backers ARCH Ventures, GV and Mass General
Brigham Ventures. Section 32's Steven J. Kafka and Sanofi Ventures'
Jim Trenkle joined the company's board.
Allay Therapeutics, a developer of analgesic products for
post-surgical pain management and recuperation, raised $60 million
in an oversubscribed Series C round. Arboretum Ventures led the
investment, with Managing Partner Nicole J. Walker joining the
board. New Enterprise Associates, Temasek Holdings, Pavilion
Capital, Brandon Capital Partners, Vertex Growth, Vertex Ventures
HC and WTT Investment also contributed to the new funding. Allay
Therapeutics has offices in Menlo Park, Calif. and Singapore.
Francis Medical Inc., a Maple Grove, Minn.-based startup
developing a water vapor ablation therapy for the treatment of
prostate, kidney and bladder cancer, landed $55 million in Series B
funding. Lead investor Solas BioVentures was joined by Arboretum
Ventures and others in the round.
Alebund Pharmaceuticals, a Shanghai-based startup developing
treatments for renal diseases and related chronic conditions,
secured $54.5 million in Series B+ financing. 3H Health Investment,
Loyal Valley Capital and Morningside Ventures led the round, which
included support from YuanBio Venture Capital, Octagon Capital,
Verition Fund Management, HT Capital, Lilly Asia Ventures, Quan
Capital, 3E Bioventures Capital and Sherpa Healthcare Partners.
Prospection, a Sydney-based healthcare data technology provider,
picked up a $45 million Series B round from Ellerston Capital, Main
Sequence Ventures and Horizons Ventures.
accuRx, a London-based healthcare communication platform, nabbed
GBP27.5 million ($38 million) in Series B funding. Lakestar led the
round, which included support from British Patient Capital, Atomico
and Encore Capital.
RecoveryOne, a Walnut Creek, Calif.-based virtual physical
therapy provider, snagged $33 million in Series C funding. Cobalt
Ventures and Telus Ventures co-led the investment, which saw
additional participation from Cigna Ventures, 7wireVentures and
Leverage Health Solutions.
Flywheel, a Minneapolis-based biomedical research data
management provider, raised $22 million in Series C financing led
by 8VC and acquired Radiologics.
Babyscripts, a Washington, D.C.-based virtual care platform for
managing obstetrics, fetched $12 million in Series B funding led by
MemorialCare Innovation Fund.
Cured, a healthcare digital marketing and customer relationship
management platform, closed a $10 million Series A round. DNA
Capital led the funding, which included contributions from CU
Healthcare Innovation Fund, UCHealth, High Alpha, Waterline
Ventures, Matchstick Ventures and Headwater Ventures. Partha
Mishra, partner at DNA Capital, joined the board. Cured has offices
in Boulder, Colo., Chicago and Indianapolis.
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Around the Web
Five Prime founder sets out to test the limits of cell therapy.
FDA does about-face on review of potential ALS treatment. (STAT
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for diabetes, obesity research hub. (Fierce Biotech)
Over half of states have rolled back public-health powers in
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
September 16, 2021 09:43 ET (13:43 GMT)
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