Fierce Pharma Asia—Leqembi's cost to Medicare; Takeda's $1.2B-plus Kumquat deal; Fujifilm Diosynth's reorg

Medicare's spending projection on the Alzheimer's drug Leqembi is way higher than Eisai's own estimates. Takeda signed an immuno-oncology deal potentially worth more than $1.2 billion. Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies is restructuring its small-scale business unit. And more.

1. Report: Spending on Leqembi could hit $3.5B next year, CMS says

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services estimated that Eisai and Biogen’s Leqembi would cost Medicare about $3.5 billion next year, according to a document summarizing a February stakeholder call that was first obtained by Stat. The number was much higher than Eisai's own projection of about $2 billion in revenue for 2026.

2. Takeda inks sweet $1.2B-plus deal with Kumquat for immuno-oncology program

Takeda has signed a deal for an immuno-oncology small-molecule inhibitor from Kumquat Biosciences. Kumquat can give Takeda global development and commercialization rights after phase 1. The pact includes $130 million in near-term payments, more than $1.2 billion in future milestones, plus tiered sales-based royalties.

3. CDMO Fujifilm Diosynth's restructuring plan may leave up to 240 staffers out of work

Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies is laying off up to 240 workers as part of a restructuring of its small-scale business unit. The Japanese CDMO cited “the short-term impacts of reduced venture capital investment into early-stage research projects,” especially in the cell and gene therapy space, as the reason. The company’s sites in Texas, North Carolina, Massachusetts and England may be affected.

4. Shinobi strikes deal with electronics powerhouse Panasonic to create new cell therapy manufacturing platform

Shinobi Therapeutics has signed a collaboration pact with Panasonic and Kyoto University to develop a new manufacturing platform to crank out induced pluripotent stem cell-based T-cell therapies more efficiently at lower costs. Panasonic is responsible for creating the closed-system manufacturing device, and Shinobi will contribute its iPSC knowledge. The first prototype is expected next April.

5. 89bio lines up China CDMO to build API plant for commercial production of MASH candidate

San Francisco-based 89bio has struck a deal asking China’s BiBo Biopharma Engineering to help it build a plant that will produce the bulk active ingredient for the U.S. biotech’s metabolic dysfunction-associated steatohepatitis (MASH) candidate pegozafermin. 89bio will pay the Chinese CDMO $135 million in several tranches. BiBo has two facilities in China that produce more than 20 commercial products.

6. Eisai on your hi-fi: Leqembi maker supports creation of Alzheimer's podcast miniseries

Eisai is funding a podcast miniseries called “Rethinking Alzheimer’s Disease.” The unbranded program was created by Mission Based Media and is focused on the steps between a patient developing symptoms and getting diagnosed, as well the future of Alzheimer’s diagnosis and therapy.

Other News of Note:

7. FDA slams 3 Indian drugmakers in flurry of recent Form 483s

8. Ferring taps CDMO SK pharmteco to boost long-term supply of gene therapy Adstiladrin

9. SCG teams with A*STAR on iPSC manufacturing technology for cell therapies (release)