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Adam Lawrence
Adam Lawrence
Articles (28) 

Where Are Biotech Industry Vets Taking a Seat at the Table Right Now?

Look at Where Deutsche Bank’s Shawn Cross, Pfizer’s Dr. Raymond Urbanski, Chase Pharmaceutical’s Dr. Kathleen Clarence-Smith, and Barker Davis Founder Geoffrey Davis are making their bets

Within the last 12 months we have seen some of the largest biopharma buyouts in history. Last year, Gilead Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD) acquired Kite Pharma Inc. (NASDAQ:KITE) in a deal that was valued at nearly $12 billion! This year we’ve already begun to see the trend continue after Bioverativ Inc. (NASDAQ:BIVV) was acquired by French biotech company, Sanofi SA ADR (NYSE:SNY) in an $11.6 billion deal. Furthermore, announcements that Celgene Corp. (NASDAQ:CELG) would acquire Juno Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ:JUNO) and AbbVie, Inc. (NYSE:ABBV) could seek deals to build onto or complement its early-stage Alzheimer's disease pipeline have kept the fire piping hot for biotech buyouts. With this in mind, there’s no doubt that the future could hold even larger deals in the biopharma space considering immense advancements that this sector is seeing right now.

The key to finding the best opportunities? Look at where some of the biggest names in the biotech industry are going and what therapies are they looking to bring to market. Pay close attention to revenue opportunities that exist for these therapies. These revenue opportunities could make such industry leaders choose to join a specific company.

Some of the biotech sector’s most affluent and influential individuals are making a move from companies such as Deutsche Bank, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Chase Pharmaceuticals & more to GT Biopharma Inc. (GTBP). This up-and-coming biotech company has a therapy pipeline that has attracted some of the industry’s most experienced leaders.

Shawn M. Cross, recently came on board the GT Biopharma team. He accepted the position of president, chief operating officer, and was also appointed as chairman and CEO. GT Biopharma board member, Anthony J. Cataldo said, “The addition of Shawn to our executive management team is important to continuing to advance the accomplishments we have achieved throughout this year. Shawn's experience in advising publicly traded emerging biotech companies, in key strategic arenas, provides timely expertise at this stage of the Company's growth and serves as a major milestone for the company."

His 20 years of experience includes positions as managing director, head of biotechnology investment banking at Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. as well as managing director and head of Biopharmaceutical Investment Banking at Wells Fargo Securities LLC. Specifically for GT Biopharma, Cross will lead the company through the Nasdaq capital markets listing process, attract institutional investment and analyst coverage to the company, and guide development of its neurology portfolio and its first TriKE into human clinical testing in 2018.

Cross and Dr. Clarence-Smith, vice chairwoman of the board and president of neurology for GT Biopharma, have also worked together in the past. “Bringing the band back together,” so to speak, could be a very strong opportunity for the company to take full advantage of this strong dynamic. It wouldn’t come as a surprise if management was able to cookie cut its previous success models and apply it to GT Biopharma in the future.

Dr. Raymond Urbanski, the former business unit chief medical officer and senior director of oncology research and development with Pfizer also sees the vision in GT Biopharma. He has made the move to this company and has become the chief medical officer to further oversee the company’s oncology and development of GT Biopharma’s product pipeline. Dr. Urbanski presents an opportunity for GT Biopharma to work with one of the main figureheads in the late stage development of biotechnology therapies.

Dr. Urbanski has played a vital role in developing and overseeing clinical studies, including phase 3b and phase 4 studies for Pfizer’s sunitinib (Sutent), exemestane (Aromasin), irinotecan (Camptosar), epirubicin (Ellence), axitinib (Inlyta) and tremelimumab (now in investigation by MedImmune, a wholly owned subsidiary of AstraZeneca).

Dr. Urbanksi is not new to leading small-cap biopharma companies either. Outside of his experience with Pfizer, he served as the chief medical officer of MannKind Corp. (NASDAQ:MNKD) until Sept. 29, 2017, and was its corporate vice president. Dr. Urbanski lead MannKind's overall drug development activities as a member of the executive leadership team.

His track record of success includes stints as chief medical officer of Mylan Inc., chief medical officer at Cymabay Therapeutics Inc., the vice president for research and development at Suntory Pharmaceutical Inc., and various positions at Aventis and AstraZeneca. He has now set his sights on GT Biopharma to up the ante and build its drug therapy platform.

When you talk about a key member being one who can bring a company to the finish line, Dr. Urbanski alone has shown numerous times how his involvement can become a key driver to getting drug therapies to market, and GT Biopharma has several that are ripe for the picking.

Aside from leadership on the management level, also keep in mind that GT Biopharma is adding to its board as well. Geoffrey Davis, the founding partner of Barker Davis had joined up with the company earlier this year. Barker Davis specifically deals with Life Sciences transactions. How can GT Biopharma benefit from this new appointment?

As Dr. Clarence-Smith puts it, "We expect Geoff's substantial experience and expertise, particularly in the completion of business development transactions, to be a significant asset to the company.”

Davis’ achievements include numerous corporate partnering and licensing transactions for major pharmaceutical and medical device companies. Just to give you an example, Davis represented Pfizer Inc. in multiple licensing and collaboration efforts. These include transactions like Pfizer’s establishment of The Global Centers for Therapeutic Innovation.

Davis helped to partner scientists from academic research centers around the world with Pfizer’s leading drug development teams in an effort to accelerate drug development initiatives. He also helped with Pfizer’s collaboration with Ensemble Discovery Corp. to discover, develop and commercialize novel compounds that are active against important therapeutic targets, particularly those involving protein-protein interactions.

Davis represented StemCells Inc. in its initial public offering and in more than 20 subsequent financings, as well as licensing and collaboration endeavors. He further represented numerous underwriters, including JPMorgan, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs in initial public offerings and other public financings for biotech and medical device companies. This alone would be an asset to any biotech company, but now he joins the team that includes decades of proven experience who all aim to make GT Biopharma succeed as a leading biotech firm.

Outside of the impressive credentials that are being brought to GT Biopharma by Cross, Urbanski and Davis, Dr. Clarence-Smith has also helped add to GT Biopharma through the drug therapy pipeline that GT Biopharma currently holds. She served a vital role during the merger between Oxis International and Georgetown Translational Pharmaceuticals (now GT Biopharma). This further enhanced the company’s pipeline with entirely new and distinct drug therapies.

As the co-founder of Chase Pharmaceuticals, she served as the chairman of the company’s board for years (2008 to 2014) and through her time there, she helped build Chase into an organization that was eventually acquired by Allergan PLC in 2016. In all reality, the deal could be valued at nearly $900 million with milestones.

Dr. Clarence-Smith has come on board to captain the ship with GT Biopharma’s neurology division. Her track record of successes has been vast and her discoveries have led to several companies being acquired for their therapies.

As the head of CNS development at Sanofi, Hoffmann-La Roche and Otsuka, Dr. Clarence-Smith developed, secured approval for and supported the launches of significant neurological treatments. This includes Abilify® (aripiprazole), which is a $7 billion peak-year sales pharmaceutical drug used in the treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Her expertise is now influencing GT Biopharma’s biopharma pipeline.

What other biotechnology company of this size do you know of that has the leadership of this caliber but with a market cap that’s under $100 million? It should also be mentioned that these industry veterans could most likely have their pick of the litter when it comes to choosing which companies they want to be part of. It stands to reason that the pipeline of therapies as well as future potential of GT Biopharma have created a unique situation that has attracted some of biotech’s best.

Right now investors seem to be favoring smaller biotech companies. The performance of the market-cap-weighted iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF gained 30% over the past 12 months, and the equal-weighted SPDR S&P Biotech ETF climbed 54% during the same period. Similar to the market a few years ago, it was the investors who found opportunity in discounted biotech stocks who saw some of the biggest profit potential over the last few decades. Now it may only be a matter of connecting the dots with some of the biotechnology sector’s biggest names in order to point to the next opportunity that could be presenting itself right now.

Disclaimer: The author owns no shares in any companies mentioned within this article.The author is an affiliate of MIDAM VENTURES, LLC a company which has been paid by GT BIOPHARMA INC (GTBP) for marketing & awarenress. Read their full dicalimer here http://midamir.com/disclaimer/

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