Germany Pharma News: Merck’s Gamble on External Innovation, Boehringer Ingelheim/Surrozen Deal; Bayer CEO Priorities


The latest from German pharma, including Merck KGaA’s increased gamble on external innovation, Bayer’s focus supply chain stability, CatalYm’s EUR 50 million series C financing and Boehringer Ingelheim’s deal with California biotech, Surrozen.


German CDMO Rentschler’s chief executive, Frank Mathias, stepping down (Fierce Pharma)

After seven years at the helm of the German CDMO, Mathias will be moving to the British AstraZeneca-partnered vaccine and gene therapy manufacturer, Oxford Biomedica.  Mathias will not be leaving Rentschler altogether and does plan to rejoin Rentschler’s supervisory board after the end of the fiscal year, which also ends in March 2023.


Merck KGaA looks to deals to expedite R&D (Business Wire)

According to the company’s recent R&D update, it will focus on external innovation to add productivity, aiming for half of its future product launches to come from other companies. Combining deals with other companies with faster internal development, Merck KGaA looks to deliver on a broader goal: doubling its productivity and launching a new product every 18 months.


Bayer CEO’s Top priorities: raw materials and supply chain stability (Company website)

Although all of its divisions have reported a significant increase in earnings for the third quarter of this year, Bayer’s CEO Werner Baumann told investors in a recent conference call that due to the volatile situation around the globe, the company is set to focus on locking down raw materials and supply chain stability. He said the company would continue to build an inventory to “mitigate the impact of supply bottlenecks” and work closely with contract manufacturers and suppliers to strengthen its supply chain.


Merck KGaA’s problems in France with Levothyrox are not over (Fierce Pharma)

Merck KGaA continues to be under legal scrutiny in France over its its thyroid hormone replacement drug, Levothyrox. Seven months after France’s highest court confirmed an earlier ruling for the company to compensate patients who had adverse reactions to Levothyrox, the case has advanced at the judicial level. A formal indictment has now been opened to determine whether Merck provided misleading information when it changed the formulation of Levothyrox in 2017, replacing lactose with mannitol and adding citric acid to improve potency and extend its shelf life.


CatalYm Closes EUR 50 Million Series C Financing to Develop Visugromab (Business Wire)

German immuno-oncology biotech, CatalYm, has secured EUR 50 million to advance its lead candidate, monoclonal antibody, visugromab, through an ongoing phase 2 clinical trial. The study, which is evaluating visugromab in combination with an anti-PD1 antibody in patients with advanced solid tumors that are relapsed/refractory, is expected to show initial results in early 2023. Two years ago, the company raised a similar sum in series B funding.


MilliporeSigma invests USD 286 million in biosafety testing (Endpoints)

American and Canadian life science division of Merck KGaA, MilliporeSigma,  is set to pay out some USD 300 million to boost biosafety testing at its manufacturing site in Rockville, MD. The new facility expansion, the largest investment in contract testing in the company’s history, will extend its capacity for biosafety testing, analytical development, viral clearance suites and services for cell bank manufacturing.


Boehringer Ingelheim signs deal with Surrozen for its preclinical retinal disease asset (Fierce Pharma)

Boehringer Ingelheim has fronted USD 12.5 million for California biotech, Surrozen’s, preclinical asset, bispecific antibody SZN-413, designed to regenerate healthy eye tissue and potentially reverse retinal disease. Boehringer will obtain a exclusive, worldwide license to develop the drug and after a period of joint research, the company will to take over all development and commercial responsibilities.

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