Ab­b­Vie do­nates $1M+ of the HIV drug that Chi­na is now rec­om­mend­ing for coro­n­avirus treat­ment

Ab­b­Vie is do­nat­ing more than $1 mil­lion worth of an HIV drug to help com­bat the fast-spread­ing coro­n­avirus out­break in Chi­na, the com­pa­ny an­nounced on Fri­day.

Chi­na’s Na­tion­al Health Com­mis­sion has sug­gest­ed Alu­via, a pill con­tain­ing lopinavir and ri­ton­avir, as one of two pos­si­ble treat­ments for the symp­toms of the virus cur­rent­ly known as 2019-nCoV in the ab­sence of ef­fec­tive an­tivi­ral med­ica­tions. The oth­er part is neb­u­lized al­pha-in­ter­fer­on.

A crop of drug­mak­ers — now in­clud­ing J&J — is rac­ing to add more po­ten­tial weapons to the ar­se­nal.

Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials are rush­ing to con­tain and find so­lu­tions for an epi­dem­ic that orig­i­nat­ed in the in­land city of Wuhan, Hubei but has since popped up in every oth­er re­gion ex­cept for Ti­bet. The Alu­via reg­i­men — two pills per round, twice dai­ly — was in­clud­ed in the third test ver­sion of the “di­ag­no­sis and treat­ment plan for new coro­n­avirus in­fec­tions.”

Guang­fa Wang, a Bei­jing-based pul­monary ex­pert who con­tract­ed the virus af­ter vis­it­ing Wuhan for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion, told Chi­na’s Time-Week­ly that he took Alu­via as part of his treat­ment and it ap­peared to be ef­fec­tive in his case. Shang­hai of­fi­cials said they have adopt­ed this type of HIV drugs since their first pa­tient.

“So far it seems to have cer­tain ef­fects, but we need more clin­i­cal ob­ser­va­tion,” said Hongzhou Lu of the Shang­hai Pub­lic Health Clin­i­cal Cen­ter.

The the­o­ry, yet to be proven, is that Alu­via works by block­ing a pro­tease that the coro­n­avirus needs for re­pro­duc­tion in the hu­man body. Though it’s not the same pro­tease that the drug was orig­i­nal­ly de­signed to block, it might be sim­i­lar enough to de­lay dis­ease pro­gres­sion. Be­cause of that, Alu­via had pre­vi­ous­ly al­so been test­ed in pa­tients with SARS and MERS.

An anony­mous Wuhan doc­tor in­ter­viewed by Time-Week­ly said that Alu­via is use­ful against the nov­el coro­n­avirus, but it’s “hard to come by.”

Ab­b­Vie said on WeChat that it will do­nate RMB$10 mil­lion (around $1.44 mil­lion) worth of pills in re­sponse to the guid­ance, though it didn’t spec­i­fy how it would dis­trib­ute across the coun­try.

Oth­er drug­mak­ers are al­so rush­ing to the call for ef­fec­tive med­ica­tions. Gilead dust­ed off remde­sivir, an an­tivi­ral that missed the mark on Ebo­la, to see about its po­ten­tial against the new virus. Mod­er­na is al­lied with the NIH to de­vel­op a vac­cine while George Scan­gos’ Vir has brought out an­ti­bod­ies. A raft of small-cap biotechs trig­gered a stock ral­ly over po­ten­tial vac­cine can­di­dates that might take years, if ever, to ma­te­ri­al­ize.

On Mon­day J&J threw its name in the hat, as CSO Paul Stof­fels told CN­BC about its ef­forts to cre­ate a po­ten­tial vac­cine, test­ing at least five dif­fer­ent con­structs in par­al­lel and at the same time build­ing an an­i­mal mod­el and prepar­ing the man­u­fac­tur­ing in­fra­struc­ture.

“We are com­fort­able that can cre­ate a vac­cine and scale it up,” he said on air.

Treat­ments are ur­gent­ly need­ed as the death toll in Chi­na ris­es to 81, five of them out­side Hubei province, with al­most 3,000 con­firmed cas­es and dou­ble that num­ber of sus­pect­ed cas­es even as sev­er­al cities are on lock­down. So far, five 2019-nCoV cas­es have been de­tect­ed in the US.

So­cial im­age: Ab­b­Vie

Sanofi brings in 4 new ex­ec­u­tives in con­tin­ued shake-up, as vac­cines and con­sumer health chief head out the door

In the middle of Sanofi’s multi-pronged race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine, David Loew, the head of their sprawling vaccines unit, is leaving – part of the final flurry of moves in the French giant’ months-long corporate shuffle that will give them new-look leadership under new CEO Paul Hudson.

The company also said today that Alan Main, the head of their consumer healthcare unit, is out, and they named 4 executives to fill new or newly vacated positions, 3 of whom come from both outside both Sanofi and from Pharma.

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As­traZeneca trum­pets the 'mo­men­tous' da­ta they found for Tagris­so in an ad­ju­vant set­ting for NSCLC — but many of the ex­perts aren’t cheer­ing along

AstraZeneca is rolling out the big guns this evening to provide a salute to their ADAURA data on Tagrisso at ASCO.

Cancer R&D chief José Baselga calls the disease-free survival data for their drug in an adjuvant setting of early stage, epidermal growth factor receptor-mutated NSCLC patients following surgery “momentous.” Roy Herbst, the principal investigator out of Yale, calls it “transformative.”

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Roger Perlmutter, Merck R&D chief (YouTube)

Backed by BAR­DA, Mer­ck jumps in­to Covid-19: buy­ing out a vac­cine, part­ner­ing on an­oth­er and adding an­tivi­ral to the mix

Merck execs are making a triple play in a sudden leap into the R&D campaign against Covid-19. And they have more BARDA cash backing them up on the move.

Tuesday morning the pharma giant simultaneously announced plans to buy an Austrian biotech that has been working on a preclinical vaccine candidate, added a collaboration on another vaccine with the nonprofit IAVI and inked a deal with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics on an early-stage antiviral.

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Ab­b­Vie wins an ap­proval in uter­ine fi­broid-as­so­ci­at­ed heavy bleed­ing. Are ri­vals My­ovant and Ob­sE­va far be­hind?

Women expel on average about 2 to 3 tablespoons of blood during their time of the month. But with uterine fibroids, heavy bleeding is typical — a third of a cup or more. Drugmakers have been working on oral therapies to try and stem the flow, and as expected, AbbVie and their partners at Neurocrine Biosciences are the first to make it across the finish line.

Known chemically as elagolix, the drug is already approved as a treatment for endometriosis under the brand name Orilissa. It targets the GnRH receptor to decrease the production of estrogen and progesterone.

Pablo Legorreta, founder and CEO of Royalty Pharma AG, speaks at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Cap­i­tal­iz­ing Pablo: The world’s biggest drug roy­al­ty buy­er is go­ing pub­lic. And the low-key CEO di­vulges a few se­crets along the way

Pablo Legorreta is one of the most influential players in biopharma you likely never heard of.

Over the last 24 years, Legorreta’s Royalty Pharma group has become, by its own reckoning, the biggest buyer of drug royalties in the world. The CEO and founder has bought up a stake in a lengthy list of the world’s biggest drug franchises, spending $18 billion in the process — $2.2 billion last year alone. And he’s become one of the best-paid execs in the industry, reaping $28 million from the cash flow last year while reserving 20% of the cash flow, less expenses, for himself.

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Dan O'Day, Gilead CEO (Andrew Harnik, AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Gilead leas­es part­ner rights to TIG­IT, PD-1 in a $2B deal with Ar­cus. Now comes the hard part

Gilead CEO Dan O’Day has brokered his way to a PD-1 and lined up a front row seat in the TIGIT arena, inking a deal worth close to $2 billion to align the big biotech closely with Terry Rosen’s Arcus. And $375 million of that comes upfront, with cash for the buy-in plus equity, along with $400 million for R&D and $1.22 billion in reserve to cover opt-in payments and milestones..

Hotly rumored for weeks, the 2 players have formalized a 10-year alliance that starts with rights to the PD-1, zimberelimab. O’Day also has first dibs on TIGIT and 2 other leading programs, agreeing to an opt-in fee ranging from $200 million to $275 million on each. There’s $500 million in potential TIGIT milestones on US regulatory events — likely capped by an approval — if Gilead partners on it and the stars align on the data. And there’s another $150 million opt-in payments for the rest of the Arcus pipeline.

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Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Getty Images)

Sanofi CEO Paul Hud­son has $23B burn­ing a hole in his pock­et. And here are some hints on how he plans to spend that

Sanofi has reaped $11.1 billion after selling off a big chunk of its Regeneron stock at $515 a share. And now everyone on the M&A side of the business is focused on how CEO Paul Hudson plans to spend it.

After getting stung in France for some awkward politicking — suggesting the US was in the front of the line for Sanofi’s vaccines given American financial support for their work, versus little help from European powers — Hudson now has the much more popular task of managing a major cash cache to pull off something in the order of a big bolt-on. Or two.

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As tislelizum­ab gains trac­tion in Chi­na, BeiGene pulls the cur­tain on NSCLC da­ta sup­port­ing the PD-1 drug

In a world now brimming with checkpoint inhibitors, companies often struggle to make a mark given a raft of therapies have already captured a considerable portion of the vast oncology market.

BeiGene’s tislelizumab was the fourth PD(L)-1 inhibitor to secure approval in China — and as it works on expanding its share the company has put out detailed data on the use of the drug in certain patients with lung cancer.

David Chang, Allogene CEO (Jeff Rumans)

Head­ed to PhII: Al­lo­gene CEO David Chang com­pletes a pos­i­tive ear­ly snap­shot of their off-the-shelf CAR-T pi­o­neer

Allogene CEO David Chang has completed the upbeat first portrait of the biotech’s off-the-shelf CAR-T contender ALLO-501 at virtual ASCO today, keeping all eyes on a drug that will now try to go on to replace the first-wave personalized pioneers he helped create.

The overall response rate outlined in Allogene’s abstract for treatment-resistant patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma slipped a little from the leadup, but if you narrow the patient profile to treatment-naïve patients — removing the 3 who had previous CAR-T therapy who didn’t respond, leaving 16 — the ORR lands at 75% with a 44% complete response rate. And 9 of the 12 responders remained in response at the data cutoff, offering a glimpse on durability that still has a long way to go before it can be completely nailed down.

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