UP­DAT­ED: 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.”

Health­care Dis­par­i­ties and Sick­le Cell Dis­ease

In the complicated U.S. healthcare system, navigating a serious illness such as cancer or heart disease can be remarkably challenging for patients and caregivers. When that illness is classified as a rare disease, those challenges can become even more acute. And when that rare disease occurs in a population that experiences health disparities, such as people with sickle cell disease (SCD) who are primarily Black and Latino, challenges can become almost insurmountable.

Jacob Van Naarden (Eli Lilly)

Ex­clu­sives: Eli Lil­ly out to crash the megablock­buster PD-(L)1 par­ty with 'dis­rup­tive' pric­ing; re­veals can­cer biotech buy­out

It’s taken 7 years, but Eli Lilly is promising to finally start hammering the small and affluent PD-(L)1 club with a “disruptive” pricing strategy for their checkpoint therapy allied with China’s Innovent.

Lilly in-licensed global rights to sintilimab a year ago, building on the China alliance they have with Innovent. That cost the pharma giant $200 million in cash upfront, which they plan to capitalize on now with a long-awaited plan to bust up the high-price market in lung cancer and other cancers that have created a market worth tens of billions of dollars.

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David Meek, new Mirati CEO (Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Fresh off Fer­Gene's melt­down, David Meek takes over at Mi­rati with lead KRAS drug rac­ing to an ap­proval

In the insular world of biotech, a spectacular failure can sometimes stay on any executive’s record for a long time. But for David Meek, the man at the helm of FerGene’s recent implosion, two questionable exits made way for what could be an excellent rebound.

Meek, most recently FerGene’s CEO and a past head at Ipsen, has become CEO at Mirati Therapeutics, taking the reins from founding CEO Charles Baum, who will step over into the role of president and head of R&D, according to a release.

FDA hands ac­cel­er­at­ed nod to Seagen, Gen­mab's so­lo ADC in cer­vi­cal can­cer, but com­bo stud­ies look even more promis­ing

Biopharma’s resident antibody-drug conjugate expert Seagen has scored a clutch of oncology approvals in recent years, finding gold in what are known as “third-gen” ADCs. Now, another of their partnered conjugates is ready for prime time.

The FDA on Monday handed an accelerated approval to Seagen and Genmab’s Tivdak (tisotumab vedotin-tftv, or “TV”) in second-line patients with recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer who previously progressed after chemotherapy rather than PD-(L)1 systemic therapy, the companies said in a release.

Dave Lennon, former president of Novartis Gene Therapies

Zol­gens­ma patent spat brews be­tween No­var­tis and Re­genxbio as top No­var­tis gene ther­a­py ex­ec de­parts

Regenxbio, a small licensor of gene therapy viral vectors spun out from the University of Pennsylvania, is now finding itself in the middle of some major league patent fights.

In addition to a patent suit with Sarepta Therapeutics from last September, Novartis, is now trying to push its smaller partner out of the way. The Swiss biopharma licensed Regenxbio’s AAV9 vector for its $2.1 million spinal muscular atrophy therapy Zolgensma.

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Ex-My­lan em­ploy­ee pleads guilty to in­sid­er trad­ing, il­le­gal­ly deal­ing on FDA ap­provals, earn­ings and Up­john merg­er

A former Mylan IT executive pleaded guilty Friday to an insider trading scheme where he bought and sold stock options on another executive’s advice.

Prosecutors secured the plea from Dayakar Mallu, Mylan’s former VP of global operations information technology, after uncovering the plan. Mallu collaborated with an unnamed “senior manager,” the SEC said, to trade options ahead of Mylan public announcements regarding FDA approvals, revenue reports and its merger with the Pfizer generics subsidiary Upjohn. The two subsequently shared profits.

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Volker Wagner (L) and Jeff Legos

As Bay­er, No­var­tis stack up their ra­dio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal da­ta at #ES­MO21, a key de­bate takes shape

Ten years ago, a small Norwegian biotech by the name of Algeta showed up at ESMO — then the European Multidisciplinary Cancer Conference 2011 — and declared that its Bayer-partnered targeted radionuclide therapy, radium-223 chloride, boosted the overall survival of castration-resistant prostate cancer patients with symptomatic bone metastases.

In a Phase III study dubbed ALSYMPCA, patients who were treated with radium-223 chloride lived a median of 14 months compared to 11.2 months. The FDA would stamp an approval on it based on those data two years later, after Bayer snapped up Algeta and christened the drug Xofigo.

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Rafaèle Tordjman (Jeito Capital)

Con­ti­nu­ity and di­ver­si­ty: Rafaèle Tord­j­man's women-led VC firm tops out first fund at $630M

For a first-time fund, Jeito Capital talks a lot about continuity.

Rafaèle Tordjman had spotlighted that concept ever since she started building the firm in 2018, promising to go the extra mile(s) with biotech entrepreneurs while pushing them to reach patients faster.

Coincidentally, the lack of continuity was one of the sore spots listed in a report about the European healthcare sector published that same year by the European Investment Bank — whose fund is one of the LPs, alongside the American pension fund Teacher Retirement System of Texas and Singapore’s Temasek, to help Jeito close its first fund at $630 million (€534 million). As previously reported, Sanofi had chimed in €50 million, marking its first investment in a French life sciences fund.

Mi­rati tri­umphs again in KRAS-mu­tat­ed lung can­cer with a close­ly watched FDA fil­ing now in the cards

After a busy weekend at #ESMO21, which included a big readout for its KRAS drug adagrasib in colon cancer, Mirati Therapeutics is ready to keep the pressure on competitor Amgen with lung cancer data that will undergird an upcoming filing.

In topline results from a Phase II cohort of its KRYSTAL-1 study, adagrasib posted a response rate of 43% in second-line-or-later patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer containing a KRAS-G12C mutation, Mirati said Monday.