West Coast Biotech Roundup: Amgen, Inslee, Fibrogen, Receptos & More

Amgen keeps adding to the layoffs, the governor of Washington has a lot to say to Xconomy about his state’s life sciences industry, and San Francisco’s Fibrogen hopes to crank up the IPO engine. Let’s get to the roundup.

—Under hedge fund pressure to break itself up, Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN) of Thousand Oaks, CA, instead said Tuesday it would lay off up to 1,100 more employees than it had previously announced in late July. The restructuring, which will hit Seattle particularly hard, will now encompass up to 4,000 layoffs, and Amgen will take approximately a $1 billion charge.

—The Washington Biotechnology & Biomedical Association released its annual economic impact report Wednesday for the life science sector, which added $11.4 billion to the state’s gross domestic product in fiscal 2013. At a life sciences summit in Seattle, Xconomy sat down to interview Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (pictured) about the impact of his state’s budget woes on the life sciences and other state matters.

—Although biotech IPOs are no longer arriving at the breakneck pace we saw earlier this year, San Francisco’s Fibrogen set terms for a Nasdaq debut that could give the biotech a $1 billion market cap. It is aiming to sell 7.1 million shares in the $16 to $19 per-share range. Its most advanced drugs are in Phase 3 and Phase 2 to treat anemia and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, respectively.

—San Diego’s Zogenix (NASDAQ: ZGNX), a maker of treatments for pain-related and central nervous system disorders, acquired U.K.-based Brabant Pharma for $20 million in cash and $15 million in stock, plus potential future milestone and royalty payments. The deal gives Zogenix fenfluramine, Brabant’s experimental drug which recently received orphan designation in the U.S. and Europe for treating children with life-threatening seizures associated with Dravet syndrome.

—Receptos (NASDAQ: RCPT) of San Diego reported Monday positive Phase 2 data in ulcerative colitis for its drug RPC1063 and said it plans to push it into Phase 3 in 2015.

—Vida, a San Francisco company with a health-coaching app, raised $5 million in Series A funding from Khosla Ventures, Aspect Ventures, and others.

—San Diego-based Synthetic Genomics named Oliver Fetzer to succeed J. Craig Venter as CEO. Venter will remain executive chairman and co-chief scientist, along with the Nobel laureate Hamilton Smith. Fetzer also joined the company’s board.

—Menlo Park, CA-based Topera, a maker of a catheter to diagnose and treat atrial fibrillation, announced Wednesday it was acquired by medical device giant Abbott (NYSE: ABT) of Abbott Park, IL, for $250 million up front and potential future milestones.

—Five Prime Therapeutics (NASDAQ: FPRX) of South San Francisco, CA, said on October 23 it has expanded its two-year-old respiratory disease collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline, triggering a $2 million payment to Five Prime.

—Amgen and Xencor (NASDAQ: XNCR) of Monrovia, CA, said Tuesday that Amgen has returned to Xencor all rights to a Phase 1/2 therapeutic antibody the companies were developing for rheumatoid arthritis.

—San Diego-based Trovagene (NASDAQ: TROV) published a study in the journal Cancer Discovery that showed its diagnostics technology was used to successfully monitor whether patients with histiocytic disease—an overproduction of white blood cells—were responding to BRAF inhibitor therapy.

—The San Francisco-based Giants baseball club won its third World Series title in five years, beating the Kansas City Royals 3-2.

Xconomy San Diego editor Bruce Bigelow contributed to this post.

Alex Lash is Xconomy's National Biotech Editor. He is based in San Francisco. Follow @alexlash

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