A decades-old glau­co­ma drug tossed aside by Pfiz­er gets a new life at a small biotech

Months ago, Pfiz­er made a grim an­nounce­ment that it would stop man­u­fac­tur­ing phos­pho­line io­dide, its decades-old “mir­a­cle drug” for a rare form of glau­co­ma. The phar­ma said its in­ven­to­ry would run dry by May 2021, leav­ing some pa­tients with few op­tions short of surgery.

But af­ter snag­ging the rights and the rest of Pfiz­er’s sup­ply, a small New York biotech is look­ing to give phos­pho­line io­dide new life.

Pfiz­er is hand­ing over the drug’s NDA and trade­mark to Fera Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, a Lo­cust Val­ley, New York-based com­pa­ny run by for­mer San­doz US CEO Frank Del­laFera, the phar­ma said in a state­ment on Mon­day.

While Fera de­clined a re­quest for com­ment, Del­laFera shared this gen­er­al state­ment re­gard­ing the com­pa­ny’s vi­sion on its web­site: “Our goal is sim­ple — to keep more qual­i­ty health­care choic­es alive for the peo­ple who need them.”

Phos­pho­line io­dide was ap­proved back in 1960, and un­til re­cent­ly was man­u­fac­tured by Pfiz­er to treat apha­kic glau­co­ma, a rare con­di­tion that can oc­cur af­ter cataract surgery. The dis­ease is as­so­ci­at­ed with poor con­trol of in­traoc­u­lar pres­sure, and fail­ure to low­er that pres­sure can re­sult in blind­ness. With­out med­ica­tion to do so, some pa­tients must re­sort to surgery.

“For the few pa­tients I have on it, noth­ing but surgery could re­place it,” one cataract and glau­co­ma sur­geon post­ed on Twit­ter back in May.

Pfiz­er cit­ed sup­ply chain is­sues and a de­cline in pa­tient use as the rea­son why it de­cid­ed to stop mak­ing phos­pho­line io­dide. The com­plex sup­ply chain has be­come in­creas­ing­ly un­sta­ble over the years, the com­pa­ny said, adding that about 100 pa­tients use the drug cur­rent­ly in the US.

Last month, the FDA agreed to ex­tend the drug’s ap­proved shelf life from 24 to 36 months, adding an ad­di­tion­al year to the la­bel to ad­dress short-term short­ages. And ac­cord­ing to Pfiz­er, Fera has “the ca­pa­bil­i­ties, ex­pe­ri­ence, and mo­ti­va­tion to bring P.I. to pa­tients on a sus­tain­able and ex­pe­dit­ed ba­sis.”

Both Pfiz­er and Fera de­clined to com­ment on the fi­nan­cial terms of the deal. Some wor­ry the new own­er­ship could lead to price hikes for the drug, which cur­rent­ly costs around $100 per 5ml, ac­cord­ing to drugs.com.

Pfiz­er says it will pro­vide con­sul­ta­tion ser­vices to Fera, though it’s un­clear what the com­pa­ny’s plans are go­ing forth — or if it will be able to avoid the same man­u­fac­tur­ing is­sues that haunt­ed Pfiz­er.

So­cial cred­it: AP Im­ages

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Pfizer was first to the finish line for the next-gen pneumococcal vaccine in adults, but Merck beat its rival with a jab for children in June.

Now, two months after Merck’s 15-valent Vaxneuvance won the FDA stamp of approval for kids, Pfizer is out with some late-stage data on its 20-valent shot for infants.

Known as Prevnar 20 for adults, Pfizer’s 20vPnC will head to the FDA by the end of this year for an approval request in infants, the Big Pharma said Friday morning. Discussions with the FDA will occur first and more late-stage pediatric trials are expected to read out soon, informing the regulatory pathway in other countries and regions.

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Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) (Francis Chung/E&E News/POLITICO via AP Images)

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AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo’s antibody-drug conjugate Enhertu scored its second approval in less than a week, this time for a subset of lung cancer patients.

Enhertu received accelerated approval on Thursday to treat adults with unresectable or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose tumors have activating HER2 (ERBB2) mutations, and who have already received a prior systemic therapy.

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After controversially spinning out its talc liabilities and filing for bankruptcy in an attempt to settle 38,000 lawsuits, Johnson & Johnson is now changing up the formula for its baby powder products.

J&J is beginning the transition to an all cornstarch-based baby powder portfolio, the pharma giant announced on Thursday — just months after a federal judge ruled in favor of its “Texas two-step” bankruptcy to settle allegations that its talc products contained asbestos and caused cancer. An appeals court has since agreed to revisit that case.

CSL is gathering its four business units under a unified brand identity strategy (Credit: CSL company site)

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CSL Seqirus and CSL Vifor join CSL Plasma and CSL Behring as the four now uniformly branded business units of the global biopharma. The Seqirus vaccine division was formed in 2015 with the combination of bioCSL and its purchase of Novartis’ flu vaccine business. CSL picked up Vifor Pharma late last year in an $11.7 billion deal for the nephrology, iron deficiency and cardio-renal drug developer.

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Pharma brands are trying to figure out new ways to better reach patients and doctors, but also measure results. (Credit: Shutterstock)

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Healthcare marketing services companies like Lasso and CMI Media Group are trying to change that with new measurement methods and partnerships that aim to get closer to patients’ and physicians’ actions.

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Corey McCann, Pear Therapeutics CEO

Pear Ther­a­peu­tics touts Q2 growth while scal­ing back full-year goals and chop­ping 9% of staff

Pear Therapeutics set some ambitious goals back in March, predicting a five-fold boost in revenue and a surge in new prescriptions for its digital therapeutics. Now the company is scaling back those estimates and chopping 9% of its workforce — an all-too-common occurrence in biotech lately.

CEO Corey McCann unveiled Pear’s Q2 numbers on Thursday, touting a 20% quarter-over-quarter revenue growth totaling $3.3 million. That’s more than double what the company made in Q2 2021, and McCann thinks the team could see a nearly four-fold jump in revenue this year, falling in the range of $14 million to $16 million.

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Seagen interim CEO Roger Dansey and Daiichi Sankyo CEO Sunao Manabe

Paving the way for Mer­ck­'s buy­out, Seagen los­es ar­bi­tra­tion dis­pute with Dai­ichi over ADC tech

As Seagen awaits a final buyout offer from Merck that could be in the territory of $40 billion, Seagen revealed Friday afternoon that it lost an arbitration dispute with Daiichi Sankyo relating to the companies’ 2008 collaboration around the use of antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) technology.

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