Amylin Regroups From FDA Smackdown, CalciMedica Plans Trial of New Anti-Immune Drug, FDA Gives CareFusion Recall Highest Priority, & More San Diego Life Science News

10/21/10Follow @bvbigelow

FDA regulatory moves turned out to be the biggest news items over the past week, prompting San Diego’s Amylin Pharmaceuticals and CareFusion to respond separately to the agency’s actions. Get our latest assessment here, along with updates on venture funding, CEO pay, and the new museum-quality home for San Diego’s Avalon Ventures.

—Investors hammered San Diego’s Amylin Pharmaceuticals after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration refused to approve its formulation for exenatide once-weekly (Bydureon), which was expected to be a blockbuster diabetes drug. Amylin and partners Eli Lilly and Alkermes said they hope to gather all the data for a re-submission “by the end of 2011.”

—As Luke reported when the news broke, the FDA decision regarding exenatide once-weekly was a chilling signal for any life sciences company developing diabetes drugs.

—Testing a recently discovered pathway of cellular communications, San Diego’s CalciMedica plans to start an early stage trial next year of a once-daily oral pill designed for patients with moderate to severe psoriasis. CalciMedica’s experimental drug could also be useful someday for other chronic inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and asthma.

Venture Capital firms invested a total of $231 million in 32 San Diego companies during the third quarter that ended in September, with $129.7 million (56 percent) going to 17 life science companies (53 percent), according to the MoneyTree Report. Six of the top 10 deals of the quarter involved life science companies: Otonomy, AutoGenomics, Accumetrics, Auspex Pharmaceuticals, Cylene Pharmaceuticals, and Cebix.

The MoneyTree Report on third-quarter venture funding echoes results that we reported earlier this week, showing $4.8 billion was invested in 780 venture deals nationwide. Funding for biotech companies was the second-highest funding level for all industries, with $944 million going into 108 deals. Funding for medical devices and equipment amounted to $573 million for 82 deals.

—The CompStudy, a salary survey from the executive search firm J. Robert Scott, Ernst & Young, and academics at Harvard University, says average base salaries for non-founding tech executives rose 3.3 percent from 2009 to 2010. The study says non-founding tech CEOs pulled in an average base salary of $235,000 in 2010, up from $230,000 last year. And non-founding life sciences chief executives saw their salaries rise from $277,000 to $288,000.

—I profiled the unusual headquarters that Avalon Ventures founder Kevin Kinsella acquired earlier this year in La Jolla. Kinsella, who helped to start and finance more than 60 startups, including ReVision Therapeutics, AXYX Pharmaceuticals, Onyx Pharmaceuticals, and Athena Neurosciences, reportedly paid $3.75 million to buy the former James S. Copley Library, now known as The Kinsella Library.

Anadys Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ANDS) raised about $25 million through a stock offering, selling almost 14 million shares at $1.80 apiece. The San Diego biotech is working on a treatment for hepatitis C.

—Ambit Biosciences raised $15 million of a planned $15.9 million venture financing round. The San Diego company, previously known as Aventa Biosciences, is developing anti-cancer therapies by developing a wide array of small molecule drug compounds to block certain kinase-based reactions.

—The FDA has stamped its most serious classification on an electronic intravenous infusion pump sold by San Diego’s CareFusion (NYSE: CFN). CareFusion says certain wireless network conditions can trigger “intermittent communication errors” that freeze the unit’s display screen, a glitch that could cause “serious adverse health consequences or death.”

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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