2,400 peo­ple re­main with­out rare dis­ease drug as Take­da man­u­fac­tur­ing woes con­tin­ue

Since Sep­tem­ber 2019, 2,400 peo­ple with the rare con­di­tion known as hy­poparathy­roidism have been wait­ing for any sign that sup­plies of their re­li­able in­jec­tion from Take­da might reemerge.

Last Wednes­day, how­ev­er, Take­da an­nounced that sup­plies won’t be ready for at least an­oth­er year, strand­ing those who still can’t ac­cess the drug, known as Nat­para (parathy­roid hor­mone), via the com­pa­ny’s Spe­cial Use Pro­gram (SUP), which is on­ly for about 400 of those who are at ex­treme risk of life-threat­en­ing com­pli­ca­tions.

“At this time we do not ex­pect a re­turn to mar­ket be­fore March 31, 2022,” Take­da said in a let­ter.

The dif­fi­cul­ties with hy­poparathy­roidism oc­cur due to low lev­els of cal­ci­um in the blood. Symp­toms can range from the more mild tin­gling or numb­ness in the fin­gers and toes, to se­vere mus­cle cramps and spasms, as well as breath­ing is­sues that can lead to hos­pi­tal­iza­tion, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tion­al Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Rare Dis­or­ders.

Even for those who still have ac­cess to Nat­para via Take­da’s spe­cial pro­gram, last week’s an­nounce­ment was a dif­fi­cult one.

“The an­nounce­ment was def­i­nite­ly a dev­as­tat­ing one for the en­tire hy­popara com­mu­ni­ty, es­pe­cial­ly af­ter the vir­tu­al hy­popara con­fer­ence in Oc­to­ber, where Take­da had re­marked that they hoped to an­nounce their plans to re­turn to mar­ket in March,” Heather No­vak, a De­troit-based ro­mance nov­el­ist who is on the SUP but told End­points News via email that she al­so deals with in­ter­mit­tent sup­ply is­sues.

In its up­date, Take­da of­fered few specifics on what’s caus­ing the man­u­fac­tur­ing is­sues at its con­trac­tor plants that are over­seen by Take­da. Back in 2019, FDA an­nounced the Class I (the high­est de­gree of po­ten­tial health haz­ard) re­call for Nat­para, and said it re­lates to rub­ber stop­per par­ti­cles clog­ging the nee­dle and lead­ing to un­der­dos­ing, ac­cord­ing to let­ters sent to pa­tients.

In its up­date, Take­da told pa­tients last week, “While we have made progress on the orig­i­nal is­sue that led to the U.S. re­call, which was the is­sue of rub­ber par­tic­u­lates orig­i­nat­ing from the rub­ber sep­tum of the NAT­PARA car­tridge, we have not yet reached a res­o­lu­tion.”

An­oth­er man­u­fac­tur­ing de­lay, which Take­da con­firmed is sep­a­rate from the orig­i­nal is­sue in 2019, is al­so af­fect­ing sup­plies the 100-mcg ver­sion of Nat­para un­der the SUP. No­vak ex­plained that when there’s an ex­pect­ed short­age of one one or more strengths of Nat­para, like the 100-mcg ver­sion, Take­da works with doc­tors to switch pre­scrip­tions or dos­ing for pa­tients to pre­vent any­one on the SUP from go­ing with­out it.

Take­da ac­quired Nat­para when it bought out Shire for $62 bil­lion in ear­ly 2019. In 2018, the last full year of Nat­para sales, the treat­ment brought in about $230 mil­lion. Since the Nat­para re­call in Sep­tem­ber 2019, no US rev­enue has been record­ed and the con­cerns are grow­ing.

“We’ve been told that they plan to keep the SUP go­ing un­til the drug re­turns to mar­ket. Many of us, of course, are won­der­ing IF it will re­turn to the US mar­ket,” No­vak said.

Those who haven’t gained ac­cess to the SUP are strug­gling even more with the Take­da de­lays.

Ri­ta Mc­Cul­lough of Le Cen­ter, MN, told End­points via email that with­in a week of the 2019 re­call, she end­ed up in the emer­gency de­part­ment twice. She said the con­di­tion af­fects her breath­ing and she has se­vere mus­cle spasms with­out Nat­para.

“I was crushed that I had to go back to all the pills and the alarm every two hours just so I can breathe,” she said, not­ing that Nat­para did work for her. “The form let­ters Take­da re­leas­es are point­less. I want to know what’s go­ing on with the rub­ber par­tic­u­lates.”

Bob Sanders, chair­man of the board of the non­prof­it Hy­poparathy­roidism As­so­ci­a­tion, said he isn’t aware of any­one who has died from a lack of ac­cess to Nat­para. He said some who have lost ac­cess to Nat­para are tak­ing Eli Lil­ly’s For­teo off-la­bel, while oth­ers are on cal­ci­um sup­ple­ments and Cal­citri­ol, which is not al­ways ap­proved for pur­chase by in­sur­ance com­pa­nies and can cre­ate fi­nan­cial bur­dens for some pa­tients.

“We all hope that there is no cal­ci­um crash as most hos­pi­tals lack the un­der­stand­ing to treat a hy­popara pa­tient be­cause it is so rare,” Sanders told End­points News via email. “An­oth­er year with­out Nat­para rep­re­sents an­oth­er year of symp­toms and strug­gles.”

He added that his as­so­ci­a­tion has a lis­ten­ing ses­sion sched­uled with the FDA and he hopes to get a pa­tient-fo­cused drug de­vel­op­ment meet­ing sched­uled for next year “to talk about our con­cerns and how the agency can best help the pa­tient com­mu­ni­ty.”

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) (Francis Chung/E&E News/Politico via AP Images)

In­fla­tion re­bates in­com­ing: Wyden calls on CMS to move quick­ly as No­var­tis CEO pledges re­ver­sal

Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) this week sent a letter to the head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services seeking an update on how and when new inflation-linked rebates will take effect for drugs that see major price spikes.

The newly signed Inflation Reduction Act requires manufacturers to pay a rebate to Medicare when they increase drug prices faster than the rate of inflation.

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The Big Phar­ma dis­card pile; Lay­offs all around while some biotechs bid farewell; New Roche CEO as­sem­bles top team; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

With earnings seasons in full swing, we’ve listened in on all the calls so you don’t have to. But news is popping up from all corners, so make sure you check out our other updates, too.

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Uğur Şahin, BioNTech CEO (Andreas Arnold/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)

BioN­Tech opens new plas­mid DNA man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ty in Ger­many

German mRNA player BioNTech opened the doors to a new manufacturing facility on Thursday, this one just about 75 miles north of its headquarters in Mainz, Germany.

BioNTech announced on Thursday that it has completed the construction of its first plasmid DNA manufacturing facility in Marburg, Germany. The facility will produce materials for mRNA-based vaccines and therapies along with cell therapies.

Te­va drops out of in­dus­try trade group PhRMA

Following in AbbVie’s footsteps, Teva confirmed on Friday that it’s dropping out of the industry trade group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).

Teva didn’t give a reason for its decision to leave, saying only in a statement to Endpoints News that it annually reviews “effectiveness and value of engagements, consultants and memberships to ensure our investments are properly seated.”

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Sanofi CFO Jean-Baptiste de Chatillon (L) and CEO Paul Hudson (Romuald Meigneux/Sipa via AP Images)

Sanofi sees downtick in flu sales as it preps for launch of RSV an­ti­body

Sanofi expects its RSV antibody jointly developed with AstraZeneca will be available next season, executive VP of vaccines Thomas Triomphe announced on the company’s quarterly call.

Beyfortus, also known as nirsevimab, was approved in the EU back in November and is currently under FDA review with an expected decision coming in the third quarter of this year. The news comes as the FDA plans to hold advisory committee meetings over the next couple months to review RSV vaccines from Pfizer and GSK.

Christophe Weber, Takeda CEO (Photographer: Shoko Takayasu/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Take­da fo­cus­es on ‘di­verse’ pipeline prospects on heels of two ac­qui­si­tions

After a whopping $4 billion asset buy from Nimbus Therapeutics, along with a $400 million deal with Hutchmed for a colorectal cancer drug, Takeda executives touted pipeline optimism on its latest earnings call this week.

That’s because the TYK2 inhibitor for psoriasis Takeda is getting from Nimbus, along with the Hutchmed fruquintinib commercialization outside of China, are just two of what it reports are 10 late-stage development programs of promising candidates.

Regeneron CSO George Yancopoulos (L) and CEO Len Schleifer at a groundbreaking for its new Tarrytown, NY facility, June 2022 (Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

In show­down with Roche, Re­gen­eron gears up for po­ten­tial Eylea ex­pan­sion amid Covid de­cline

Regeneron faced a substantial slump in overall revenue last year, but the focus still remains on some of its biggest blockbusters.

The pharma with several high-profile partnerships — Sanofi and Bayer among them — said Friday that Q4 revenue was down 31% for the quarter, and down 24% for the entire year. However, that won’t stop blockbuster expansion plans.

One of those is Eylea, the Bayer-partnered eye disease drug that has been in major competition with Roche’s Vabysmo. While Eylea is currently only approved in a 2 mg dose, the company recently filed for approval to give a 8 mg dose, in hopes of making a longer-lasting treatment.

BeiGene's new website helps direct cancer patients and caregivers to a wide variety of sources for help.

BeiGene re­veals men­tal health and can­cer care gap in study, de­buts dig­i­tal re­sources

One-fourth of cancer patients are living with depression — and another 20% suffer from anxiety. That’s according to new study results from BeiGene, conducted by Cancer Support Community (CSC), about the mental and emotional health of cancer patients.

While the fact that people with cancer are also dealing with depression or anxiety may not be surprising, what is — and was to BeiGene — is that a majority of them aren’t getting support. 60% of respondents said they were not referred to a mental health professional, and even more concerning, two in five who specifically asked for mental health help did not get it. CSC, a nonprofit mental health in cancer advocacy group, surveyed more than 600 US cancer patients.

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One of the paintings from Gilead's latest campaign making AI art to help MBC patients be 'seen and heard.'

Gilead com­bines ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and art to draw at­ten­tion and hope to MBC

What if you could “see” the emotions and feelings of people living with metastatic breast cancer? That’s what Gilead Sciences’ agency VMLY&R Health did last year, using artificial intelligence and sound analytics to turn the interviews of three women living with metastatic triple-negative breast cancer into works of art.

Using the sound waves, a robotic painting device translated their stories of struggle and hope into colors, contours and brush strokes. The result? An art exhibition called “Paintings of Hope” that was first displayed at ESMO in September in Paris, but has since traveled to hospitals and medical conferences in Europe and Spain.

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