Cassava faces prison probe tied to Alzheimer’s drug: Sources

(Reuters) — The U.S. Justice Division has opened a prison investigation into Cassava Sciences Inc. involving whether or not the biotech firm manipulated analysis outcomes for its experimental Alzheimer’s drug, two folks conversant in the inquiry stated.

The Justice Division personnel conducting the investigation into Austin, Texas-based Cassava concentrate on inspecting whether or not corporations or people have misled or defrauded traders, authorities businesses or shoppers, in line with the sources, who spoke on situation of anonymity. The sources didn’t present particulars of the main target of the probe and whether or not the division was wanting into any particular people.

As in any Justice Division investigation, this one may result in prison costs or be closed with none costs being introduced.

In an emailed assertion, Kate Watson Moss, a lawyer representing Cassava, neither confirmed nor denied the existence of the Justice Division prison probe.

“To be clear: Cassava Sciences vehemently denies any and all allegations of wrongdoing,” Ms. Watson Moss stated, including that the corporate “has by no means been charged with against the law, and for good purpose – Cassava Sciences has by no means engaged in prison conduct.”

Ms. Watson Moss added that Cassava Sciences has obtained confidential requests for data from authorities businesses, however declined to determine these businesses. Ms. Watson Moss stated that “Cassava Sciences has supplied data in response to those requests in full satisfaction of its authorized obligations.” Ms. Watson Moss added that no authorities company has accused the corporate of wrongdoing.

A Justice Division spokesperson declined to remark.

The corporate already was going through scrutiny from the U.S. Securities and Trade Fee and traders after two physicians from outdoors Cassava final 12 months made allegations of knowledge manipulation and misrepresentation involving analysis underpinning the corporate’s Alzheimer’s drug, referred to as simufilam.

Cassava, a small firm with about two dozen workers, in a press release final 12 months referred to as the allegations of knowledge manipulation and misrepresentation “false and deceptive.”

Cassava on its web site describes simufilam as taking an “solely new method” to treating Alzheimer’s, the most typical type of dementia and a progressive mind dysfunction that impacts practically 6 million Individuals. The oral remedy restores the conventional form and performance of a key protein within the mind, the corporate stated.

A petition to the FDA

The prison investigation started, in line with the sources, someday after a petition was filed in August 2021 with the U.S. Meals and Drug Administration by a lawyer on behalf of two physicians asking the company to halt scientific trials of simufilam. The physicians are David Bredt, a neuroscientist previously at Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen, and Geoffrey Pitt, a heart specialist who serves as director of Weill Cornell Medication’s Cardiovascular Analysis Institute in New York.

The petition filed by Jordan Thomas, a New York-based lawyer representing each medical doctors, stated Cassava’s revealed research on scientific trials involving simufilam in varied journals contained knowledge misrepresentation and pictures of experiments that appeared to have been manipulated by photo-editing software program. The FDA denied the petition and let the trials proceed.

Mr. Bredt and Mr. Pitt disclosed final November in an article revealed by The Wall Road Journal that they shorted Cassava’s inventory, betting that the worth would go down as soon as traders realized of the manipulation they alleged. They later informed The New Yorker journal that they now not have a brief place in Cassava, a declare Reuters couldn’t independently confirm.

The short-selling represents “a significant battle of curiosity,” Ms. Watson Moss stated in her assertion to Reuters.

“Cassava Sciences is excited about serving to these with Alzheimer’s illness, not a straightforward payday,” Ms. Watson Moss added.

Inventory drop

Cassava’s inventory fell precipitously following the petition filed with the FDA by Mr. Thomas, presenting a possibility for Mr. Bredt and Mr. Pitt to revenue on their guess towards the corporate.

Mr. Thomas declined to touch upon the matter.

The FDA in February stated the so-called citizen petition filed by the 2 physicians urging it to launch an investigation into simufilam was not a correct avenue for such a request. Requests for the FDA to provoke an enforcement motion, in the meantime, are “expressly excluded from the scope of the FDA’s citizen petition procedures,” the company stated, including that it workout routines its personal discretion on such issues.

An FDA spokesperson declined to remark.

Cassava shares rose on Nasdaq from round $7 in January 2021 to above $135 in July 2021 on investor hopes that the corporate was on the verge of a breakthrough in treating Alzheimer’s. The inventory plunged weeks later following phrase of the petition questioning Cassava’s analysis outcomes.

The corporate’s shares closed at $21.72 on Tuesday.

Cassava has obtained greater than $20 million from the U.S. Nationwide Institutes of Well being to help growing simufilam.

The NIH informed Reuters it doesn’t focus on potential circumstances of analysis misconduct associated to grants however that officers “take analysis misconduct very severely. Analysis misconduct could distort NIH funding choices, the general integrity of the analysis we help and the general public belief in science and ensuing outcomes.”

Cassava is also going through the SEC investigation, the sources stated. The Wall Road Journal final November first reported on the SEC probe, saying the company was inspecting the claims made within the FDA petition. Reuters was unable to find out what particular claims, if any, drew the company’s scrutiny.

An SEC spokesperson stated the company “doesn’t touch upon the existence or nonexistence of a potential investigation.”


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