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Lilly doubles down on radiopharma

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Good morning. Please take some time today to read this story from my colleague Eric Boodman, who spent a year investigating how doctors are pushing sickle cell patients to get unwanted sterilizations. This is the first story in a new series from STAT called Coercive Care.

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The need-to-know this morning

  • AstraZeneca said it plans to deliver $80 billion in total revenue by 2030, up from $45.8 billion last year. The new growth will be fueled by the launch of 20 new medicines before the end of the decade, the pharma giant said at an investor event.
  • Bristol Myers Squibb said the FDA’s decision date for a subcutaneously injected version of its cancer medicine Opdivo was moved forward to Dec. 29. Previously, it was Feb. 28, 2025. The new Opdivo formulation is made using drug-delivery technology from Halozyme.
  • GSK said a new asthma treatment that could be administered just once every six months succeeded in two Phase 3 trials.

The immunology financing streak continues

AltruBio said this morning that it raised $225 million in a Series B round to advance a drug for the treatment of ulcerative colitis, an autoimmune condition.

The biotech is flipping an approach used in a type of cancer drug called an immune checkpoint inhibitor, which amplifies the immune system to help patients fight deadly cancers. AltruBio is developing a checkpoint enhancer, aiming to pump the breaks on runaway immune responses.

The financing round was led by BVP Partners and included RA Capital Management, Cormorant Asset Management, and Soleus Capital. It’s the latest example of intense investor interest this year in the field of immunology and  inflammation.

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Read more from STAT’s Jonathan Wosen.

BIO undergoes a major shakeup

STAT broke the news yesterday that the biotech industry’s biggest lobbying group will lay off workers, including senior leaders, as part of a big restructuring.

In total, the organization is laying off 30 employees. “In our efforts to do everything, we were missing the opportunity to do many of the big things,” BIO CEO John Crowley said in an email to staff that was obtained by STAT.

It’s the latest change to rock the organization in recent years, and comes right before BIO’s annual convention next month.

Read more from STAT’s John Wilkerson and Rachel Cohrs Zhang.

The House wants to grill the big three PBMs

Rachel brings us another exclusive report: Executives from the three major pharmacy benefits managers — Optum, CVS Caremark, and Express Scripts — have been called to testify before a House panel next month.

The committee convening this hearing is the House Oversight Committee, which doesn’t have primary jurisdiction over health care issues, but has taken a particular interest in PBM practices this congressional session.

Read more from Rachel.

Lilly doubles down on radiopharma

Aktis Oncology said today that it’s struck an agreement with Eli Lilly to discover new radiopharmaceuticals.

Under the deal, Aktis will receive a $60 million upfront payment and an equity investment by Lilly. The biotech will also be eligible to receive up to an additional $1.1 billion in potential milestone payments, as well as tiered royalties. Lilly, in exchange, will receive rights to develop the products discovered by Aktis on a set of targets chosen by Lilly.

This comes after Lilly acquired radiopharma company Point Biopharma for $1.4 billion last year.

Radiopharmaceuticals have been drawing more attention after Novartis got approval for the prostate cancer drug Pluvicto in 2022.

Sanofi links up with AI partners for drug discovery

Sanofi, which has been touting its AI ambitions to power its drug discovery, added some fuel to that campaign today, announcing a new collaboration with OpenAI and Formation Bio. The idea is that the combined expertise of the three firms will lead to AI models that can accelerate drug development and bring medicines to patients faster.

“This unique collaboration is the next significant step in our journey to becoming a pharmaceutical company substantially powered by AI,” said Paul Hudson, the CEO of Sanofi, which — to the skepticism of some investors — is in a period of increased R&D investments.

As part of the new pact, Formation Bio, an AI drugmaker with its own pipeline, will offer engineering resources and its development platform, while OpenAI will provide its AI insights. Maybe Scarlett Johansson has some thoughts on that.

AI in drug discovery is far from meeting the hype

Though pharma companies (as seen above) are trying to incorporate AI into their drug development work, for now, the technology still has a long way to go to be able to unlock new therapies and cures, according to a group of experts.

“I am very worried about the hype,” Daphne Koller, chief executive of the machine learning drug discovery company Insitro, said at STAT’s Breakthrough West Summit last week.

Drug developers using AI still need more data, better data, and advances in other types of technologies that can enhance the usefulness of AI.

Read more from STAT’s Casey Ross and Matt Herper on what Koller, an Andreessen Horowitz general partner, and a scientist had to say about this hype.

More reads

  • How doctors are pressuring sickle cell patients into unwanted sterilizations, STAT
  • Black Americans’ risk for breast cancer gains clarity in analysis of 40,000 genomes, STAT
  • A novel spinal cord stimulator treats paralysis without surgery. FDA will rule on it soon, STAT