Af­ter re­peat­ed set­backs on the check­point front, Bris­tol-My­ers scores a $625M pay­out from Mer­ck to set­tle patent fra­cas

Gio­van­ni Caforio, Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb CEO

Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb may keep los­ing to Keytru­da on key fran­chise ini­tia­tives, but at least now it can share in Mer­ck’s good for­tunes. Bris­tol-My­ers and Ono have agreed to set aside their patent dis­pute over the PD-1 check­point drug in ex­change for $625 mil­lion in cash and a 6.5% roy­al­ty on sales for the next six years.

Then, af­ter 2023, the two com­pa­nies will take a 2.5% cut of the ac­tion for the fol­low­ing three years. Bris­tol-My­ers gets 75% of the ac­tion and Ono takes home 25%.

This is a sil­ver lin­ing on an oth­er­wise dark cloud for Bris­tol-My­ers, which has ex­pe­ri­enced a se­ries of painful set­backs on the check­point front af­ter a num­ber of an­a­lysts tapped it as the dom­i­nant play­er in the field. Just last night Bris­tol-My­ers is­sued a late re­lease say­ing that it was aban­don­ing any plans for an ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval of a com­bi­na­tion of Op­di­vo and Yer­voy for lung can­cer, con­ced­ing the ear­ly lead for front­line use to Mer­ck and Keytru­da, in­clud­ing their plans to gain an ap­proval for a com­bo with chemother­a­py.

“Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb and Ono’s agree­ment with Mer­ck pro­tects our sci­en­tif­ic dis­cov­er­ies and val­i­dates the strong in­tel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty rights we se­cured as the ear­ly in­no­va­tors in the sci­ence of PD-1, a key mech­a­nism in Im­muno-On­col­o­gy that has proven to have trans­for­ma­tion­al im­pact in can­cer care,” says Bris­tol-My­ers CEO Gio­van­ni Caforio. “To­day’s agree­ment is al­so a good de­ci­sion for pa­tients as it sup­ports the con­tin­u­a­tion of on­go­ing re­search and main­tains ac­cess to an­ti-PD-1 ther­a­pies for can­cer pa­tients around the world.”

Un­lock­ing ESG strate­gies for growth with Gilead Sci­ences

RBC Capital Markets explores what is material in ESG for biopharma companies with the ESG leads at Gilead Sciences. Gilead has long focused on sustainability but recognized a more robust framework was needed. Based on a materiality assessment, Gilead’s ESG strategy today focuses first on drug access and pricing, while also addressing D&I and climate change. Find out why Gilead’s board is “acutely aware” of the contribution that ESG makes to firm’s overall success.

What con­tro­ver­sy? Eli Lil­ly plots Alzheimer's BLA fil­ing lat­er this year as FDA taps more an­ti-amy­loid drugs as break­throughs

The FDA is keeping the good news coming for Alzheimer’s drug developers. And Eli Lilly is taking them up on it.

Amid continued controversy around whether Biogen’s new flagship drug, Aduhelm, should have been approved at all — and swelling, heated debates surrounding its $56,000 price tag — the agency had no issue handing them and their Japanese partner Eisai a breakthrough therapy designation for a second anti-amyloid beta antibody, lecanemab, late Wednesday.

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Hervé Hoppenot, Incyte CEO (Jeff Rumans)

ODAC echoes FDA con­cern over In­cyte PD-1, as Paz­dur sig­nals broad­er shift for ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval

After the FDA lambasted their PD-1 ahead of an adcomm earlier this week, Incyte ran into new trouble Thursday as ODAC panelists voted against an accelerated OK by a wide margin.

Members of the Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee recommended with a 13-4 vote to defer a regulatory decision on Incyte’s retifanlimab until after more data can be collected from a placebo-controlled trial. The PD-1 therapy is due for a PDUFA date in late July after receiving priority review earlier this year.

New FDA doc­u­ments show in­ter­nal dis­sent on Aduhelm ap­proval

In a lengthy review document and a pair of memos from top officials, the FDA released on Tuesday night its most detailed argument yet for approving Biogen’s intensely controversial Alzheimer’s drug aducanumab.

The documents amount to an agency attempt to quench the firestorm their decision kindled, as outside advisors members resigned and experts warned that an unproven drug now could stretch Medicare’s budget to a breaking point. Ultimately, the documents show how CDER director Patrizia Cavazzoni and Office of New Drugs director Peter Stein both concurred with FDA neuroscience head Billy Dunn on the accelerated approval while the staff at FDA’s Office of Biostatistics did not think an approval was warranted.

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Karen Flynn, Catalent

Q&A: When the pan­dem­ic struck, Catal­en­t's CCO had just joined the team

Karen Flynn came aboard Catalent’s team just in time.

The company was going through a surge of changes, and she had been brought over from her role as CCO of West Pharmaceutical Services to serve in the same capacity for the New Jersey-based CDMO. Then a few months later, the pandemic was in full-force.

Since then, Catalent’s been in hyper-expansion mode. In early May, it acquired Promethera’s Hepatic Cell Therapy Support SA subsidiary and its 32,40-square-foot facility in Gosselies, Belgium. Prior to that, the company acquired Belgian CDMO Delphi Genetics, wrapped up the expansion of an already-existing site in Madison, WI and added an ultra-low temperature freezer partner in Sterling. As Emergent has botched millions of doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, the company has swooped in to move that production to its Maryland plant as well.

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Richard Pazdur (vis AACR)

FDA en­cour­ages in­clud­ing in­cur­able can­cer pa­tients in tri­als, re­gard­less of pri­or ther­a­pies

The FDA on Thursday called to include those with incurable cancers (when there is no potential for cure or for prolonged/near normal survival) in appropriate clinical trials, regardless of whether they have received existing alternative treatments.

Historically, many cancer clinical trials have required that participating patients previously received multiple therapies, according to Richard Pazdur, director of the FDA’s Oncology Center of Excellence.

On heels of Aduhelm ap­proval, Bris­tol My­ers jumps back in­to Alzheimer's race

Bristol Myers Squibb last put major resources behind an Alzheimer’s drug nearly a decade ago, when their own attempt at targeting amyloid flamed out in mid-stage studies. They invented another molecule, a Tau-targeted antibody, but jettisoned it to Biogen in 2017 as they dropped out of neuroscience altogether.

But on Thursday, the New York pharma announced they were getting back in the game. Bristol Myers exercised an $80 million option to bring a tau-targeted antibody from Prothena into a Phase I study. The opt-in, which Bristol Myers triggered ahead of analyst expectations, opens the door for another $1.7 billion in milestones down the road.

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James Peyer, Cambrian

Can a cell ther­a­py treat mus­cu­lar dy­s­tro­phy? A Ger­man bil­lion­aire's an­ti-ag­ing start­up is try­ing to find out

Gene therapy companies have faced huge hurdles trying to deliver healthy genes into muscular dystrophy patients’ muscle cells, so here’s an idea: Why don’t we just replace the muscle cells themselves?

Over the last two years, Vita Therapeutics has been exploring that possibility, building on early stem cell work from Johns Hopkins professor Peter Andersen. And on Tuesday they announced a $32 million Series A to begin to move their first therapy into the clinic, where they hope it will help rebuild muscle in patients with a type of dystrophy that afflicts the arms and legs.

Alexis Borisy (file photo)

EQRx and Ex­sci­en­tia, a pair of self-styled dis­rup­tors, team up to over­turn the drug pric­ing ap­ple cart

The biotech industry has seen no shortage of innovation in recent years, but in one area — drug pricing — the field has been anything but innovative. Now, two brash startups taking different roads to upset the drug pricing model will partner up to create a sort of “super-disruptor.”

EQRx and UK-based AI specialist Exscientia will team up on a discovery-through-commercialization collaboration the partners hope will work better than the sum of its parts to bring cheaper medicines to patients faster, the companies said Thursday.