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Pfizer is taking Johnson & Johnson to court. Photo: Mark Lennihan / AP

SpringWorks Therapeutics, a rare disease drug development startup, has raised $103 million in Series A funding from Pfizer, Bain Capital Life Sciences, Bain Capital Double Impact, Orbimed and LifeArc. The company is launching with four compounds licensed from Pfizer, including a pair – one in desmoid tumor and another for neurofibromatosis – that are ready for Phase 3 clinical trials. Pfizer also has some royalty rights via the transaction, although financial details were not disclosed.

Why it matters: Because big pharma rarely pays much attention to its shelved experimental compounds, let alone create a spin-out company to further develop them.

But that's what Pfizer did here, spearheaded by a strategy exec named Lara Sullivan who now leads SpringWorks. It could become a model for Pfizer's peers, many of which have just out-licensed compounds on a one-off basis to inbound third parties. As for SpringWorks, it intends to acquire other candidates from non-Pfizer sources (both corporate and academic).

Bottom line from Xconomy's Bed Fidler: "Pharma companies scrap development of experimental drugs all the time. Sometimes those drugs don't work or are unsafe. Other times they no longer fit a company's strategic goals, or they might be best suited for a different disease. Maybe they even lose an internal fight for interest and resources, and the cash to run larger, more expensive trials is put elsewhere."

Go deeper

The legacy of Bernie Madoff

Bernie Madoff, architect of the largest Ponzi scheme in American history, died on Wednesday in federal prison, 11 years into his 150-year sentence.

Axios Re:Cap digs into Madoff’s crimes, what they revealed about America's financial system and what changed after the scheme came crashing down with Diana B. Henriques, author of the The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

Russia to expel 10 U.S diplomats, ban top Biden officials in response to sanctions

Photo: Alexei Druzhinin\TASS via Getty Images

Russia will expel 10 U.S. diplomats and add eight current and former U.S. officials to its no-entry list in retaliation for sanctions that the Biden administration leveled at Moscow on Friday, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said Friday.

Why it matters: The measures come after the U.S. said it would expel 10 Russian intelligence officers operating under diplomatic cover, as part of a broad package of sanctions retaliating against the SolarWinds hack of federal agencies and Russia's interference in the 2020 election.

Biden to keep refugee cap at historically low figure set by Trump

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden will sign an order Friday to keep the number of refugee admissions this year at the historically low figure set by the Trump administration, walking back a campaign promise to raise the cap, a senior administration official confirmed to Axios.

Why it matters: Biden has faced mounting pressure to increase the limit as he pledged, with his administration set to accept the lowest number of refugees this year of any modern president, including former President Trump.