Konnichiwa, Dublin

Japan and Ireland have a history of mutual investment and medicine exchange, and an upcoming merger could be the latest and greatest chapter. Osaka-based Takeda announced in May that it would acquire the Dublin-based Shire for $62B, and it looks like its last regulatory hurdle with the EU will be cleared. Unlike these hurdles. Officials are slightly concerned about an IND in Shire’s pipeline that could treat Crohn’s Disease, which would overlap with Takeda’s biggest selling drug Entyvio. But Takeda’s happy to lose that investigational drug if it means closing the deal. After all, the new company would instantly become a global top 10 drugmaker. Keep your head on a swivel though, a few Takeda investors are still against the deal, citing the considerable debt Takeda will have to take on to make the purchase.

Secrets that don’t stay secret

Sometimes you want to get a head start when starting a new company. And sometimes you get caught by the feds for stealing trade secrets. Former GSK scientist Yu Xue pleaded guilty to conspiring to do just that when starting her own biopharmaceutical company in China while still employed by the pharma giant. Prosecutors say Xue transferred documents related to products under development, research data, as well as GSK’s R&D and manufacturing processes to her colleagues in China. Xue, on top of serving up to 10 years in prison, could also be forced to pay restitution to GSK. The court graciously capped that at a reasonable number for a single person to pay, just $2B. Fun fact: that’s larger than the GDP of 26 nations according to the World Bank.

Baysanto? Monsantayer?

Whatever they end up calling themselves, Bayer and Monsanto have finally crossed the last big regulatory hurdle in the way of their proposed merger. The US Department of Justice gave Bayer permission to go through with the $62.5B deal on Tuesday. It’s one of the largest mergers on record (list of those here), and the new company will have control of over 25% of the world’s seeds and pesticides. Get ready for a future where Mbayto branded trees litter the landscape. The companies claim that the merger will allow them to increase spending on R&D, but Business Insider reports that they’ll only really be spending about $500M more than when they were separate. With that much of the market cornered there’s probably a better reason the deal will benefit the companies…

Out with the old, in with the…still old?

Ever looking for something to wear and end up deciding that pair of jeans at the bottom of the hamper is your best option, even though you’d previously deemed them too stained/stinky/crusty to wear? (Uh, yeah, us neither… Awkward.) Anyway…AstraZeneca is doing the same thing. But with drugs. Its “Emerging Innovations Unit” oversees a number of drugs that AZ had shelved and molecules that never progressed to human testing. The unit licenses shelved drugs to other companies and also partners with university scientists to continue research.  AZ says the new strategy has led to substantial improvements in its research output.  Maybe, just maybe, those dirty jeans are worth taking for another spin around the block.

4. WHO: “Super-bugs definitely NOT saving the day”

Slight paraphrase, but the point holds. This week, WHO released its rapidly (tragically) expanding list of “super-bugs”—drug-resistant bacteria that have stopped responding to antibiotics. For some context, these strains resulted in more than 50,000 fatalities last year. The older and infirmed are usually at greatest risk, but five-alarm bells are sounding from new findings that pediatric infection has increased sevenfold within the decade. With our last lines of antibiotic defense now losing efficacy, the fix comes down to R&D. However, new antibiotic discoveries are limited after 70 years of research, and…pharma doesn’t get huge ROIs from antibiotic research. But Pharma, hear us at InsightCity—if anyone is saving the day, and all of humanity—it will be you.

4. And this is why you go to school

AbbVie is now in a 5-year relationship with Johns Hopkins and Northwestern University. The goal?  Advancing oncology R&D. The pharmaceutical giant will work with each university independently, providing funding for preclinical research and access to AbbVie’s existing research. Of course, in the spirit of reciprocation, AbbVie can exclusively claim any new discoveries as its own. Therapeutic areas of research will include breast, lung, prostate, and colorectal cancers, among others. This is not the first time AbbVie has tapped the power of academic institutions. They entered a multi-million dollar oncology research collaboration with University of Chicago last April.  Arrangements like these have the potential to be a win-win-win for pharma, academia and patients alike. After all, sharing is caring.