Ab­b­Vie wins a 5-year free pass on mega-block­buster Hu­mi­ra in biosim set­tle­ment with ri­val Am­gen

It was clear from a re­cent sit-down with Leerink’s Ge­of­frey Porges that Ab­b­Vie was feel­ing good about keep­ing its mega-block­buster Hu­mi­ra fran­chise in the US to it­self through 2022. And this morn­ing we got a peek in­to why they were so bull­ish.

Richard Gon­za­lez

Am­gen, which scored the first ap­proval for a biosim­i­lar of Hu­mi­ra in the US, has signed off on a set­tle­ment agree­ment with Ab­b­Vie that will de­lay its roll­out un­til ear­ly 2023. Am­gen can get start­ed in the EU in the fall of next year, with a mar­ket­ing pact that calls on the com­pa­ny to pay roy­al­ties to Ab­b­Vie.

Ab­b­Vie’s shares $AB­BV shot up 6% this morn­ing.

The de­tails on this deal are be­ing kept un­der wraps, but the set­tle­ment re­moves one of the most liti­gious com­pa­nies in the in­dus­try from Ab­b­Vie’s pact. As Ever­cor­eISI’s Umer Raf­fat said in a quick note this morn­ing, the court dates over the patent fight could well have left any fi­nal ap­peals de­ci­sion un­til 2021.

Ab­b­Vie CEO Rick Gon­za­lez is ea­ger to make Hu­mi­ra in­to a $20 bil­lion a year drug be­fore hav­ing to com­pete against biosim­i­lars, and there are at least 10 oth­ers in the late-stage pipeline now with vir­tu­al­ly every­one in the gener­ic bi­o­log­ics busi­ness tack­ling the king of the mar­ket.

The FDA has be­come quite wel­com­ing to new biosim­i­lar ap­pli­ca­tions over the past year. But get­ting an ap­proval and carv­ing up mar­ket share at two com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent things, as Pfiz­er found out when it went af­ter J&J’s Rem­i­cade. Pfiz­er’s knock­off bare­ly made a dent in the mar­ket, and the phar­ma gi­ant re­cent­ly ac­cused J&J of us­ing im­prop­er meth­ods in bar­ring com­pe­ti­tion — a po­si­tion that J&J says was dri­ven by an em­bar­rass­ing in­abil­i­ty to mar­ket the ther­a­py prop­er­ly.

Ab­b­Vie, which has now de­layed the lead threat to its biggest cash cow for an­oth­er five years, was care­ful not to gloat this morn­ing.

Lau­ra Schu­mach­er, ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent, ex­ter­nal af­fairs, gen­er­al coun­sel and cor­po­rate sec­re­tary, Ab­b­Vie, had this to say:

In reach­ing this agree­ment, we have achieved the bal­ance be­tween pro­tect­ing in­vest­ment in in­no­va­tion and pro­vid­ing ac­cess to biosim­i­lars, which will play an im­por­tant role in our health care sys­tem. We will con­tin­ue to de­fend our in­tel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty and to rein­vest in fur­ther ad­vance­ments in med­i­cine to bring choic­es to pa­tients in need.

Da­ta Lit­er­a­cy: The Foun­da­tion for Mod­ern Tri­al Ex­e­cu­tion

In 2016, the International Council for Harmonisation (ICH) updated their “Guidelines for Good Clinical Practice.” One key shift was a mandate to implement a risk-based quality management system throughout all stages of a clinical trial, and to take a systematic, prioritized, risk-based approach to clinical trial monitoring—on-site monitoring, remote monitoring, or any combination thereof.

Pfiz­er's big block­buster Xel­janz flunks its post-mar­ket­ing safe­ty study, re­new­ing harsh ques­tions for JAK class

When the FDA approved Pfizer’s JAK inhibitor Xeljanz for rheumatoid arthritis in 2012, they slapped on a black box warning for a laundry list of adverse events and required the New York drugmaker to run a long-term safety study.

That study has since become a consistent headache for Pfizer and their blockbuster molecule. Last year, Pfizer dropped the entire high dose cohort after an independent monitoring board found more patients died in that group than in the low dose arm or a control arm of patients who received one of two TNF inhibitors, Enbrel or Humira.

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Top gene ther­a­py deals, M&A pacts in 2020 high­light an­oth­er big year in one of the hottest fields in bio­phar­ma

Chris Dokomajilar at DealForma has been crunching the numbers on gene therapy deals over the last 2 years and came away with a few key observations.

Both the upfront cash and deal totals last year backed off a bit from the record high hit in 2019, but the totals are still running well ahead of anything we’ve seen in the years prior to 2019/2020.
2020 R&D partnerships came in at 23 deals, with $1.1 billion in disclosed upfront cash and equity and more than $8.5 billion in total deal value. Looking at 2019-2020 M&A, Dokomajilar found: 9 Acquisitions, with over $11.1 billion in disclosed upfront cash and equity and more than $13.4 billion in total M&A value.

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Bob Nelsen (Michael Kovac/Getty Images)

ARCH an­nounces largest fund yet, rais­ing $1.85B to back men­tal health, cell and gene edit­ing ap­proach­es

Nearly a year ago, as the pandemic encroached and the stock market cratered, Flagship and ARCH Venture announced three mega-funds worth a combined $2.6 billion. They wanted, ARCH’s Bob Nelsen said, to restore confidence “that there was money out there and a lot of it” to invest in biotech.

Since then, the stock market has returned — almost frighteningly so — and Nelsen has kept raising and spending cash. On Thursday, he announced a new fund, worth $1.85 billion. It’s the largest pot yet for a VC famous for its deep pockets.

Covid-19 roundup: EU and As­traZeneca trade blows over slow­downs; Un­usu­al unions pop up to test an­ti­bod­ies, vac­cines

After coming under fire for manufacturing delays last week, AstraZeneca’s feud with the European Union has spilled into the open.

The bloc accused the pharma giant on Wednesday of pulling out of a meeting to discuss cuts to its vaccine supplies, the AP reported. AstraZeneca denied the reports, saying it still planned on attending the discussion.

Early Wednesday, an EU Commission spokeswoman said that “the representative of AstraZeneca had announced this morning, had informed us this morning that their participation is not confirmed, is not happening.” But an AstraZeneca spokesperson later called the reports “not accurate.”

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Janet Woodcock (AP Images)

Ad­vo­ca­cy groups don't want Janet Wood­cock to head the FDA, blast­ing ‘reg­u­la­to­ry fail­ures’ in opi­oid cri­sis

It turns out the controversies around Janet Woodcock’s regulatory legacy weren’t limited to Sarepta’s eteplirsen.

A coalition of advocacy groups dedicated to the opioid crisis urged Norris Cochran and Xavier Becerra — the acting and designated HHS secretary, respectively — to keep her reign as interim FDA chief a “very short transition.” During her lengthy tenure as CDER, they add, Woodcock presided over “one of the worst regulatory agency failures in U.S. history.”

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Dean Li kicks off Mer­ck­'s post-Roger Perl­mut­ter era by team­ing with Arti­va and its off-the-shelf CAR-NK tech

Even though Dean Li has now officially taken over for Roger Perlmutter as R&D chief, Merck’s appetite for dealmaking continues to be ravenous.

Li struck his first big deal at the helm Thursday morning, hammering out a collaboration with Artiva Biotherapeutics that could earn the biotech nearly $1.9 billion when all is said and done. It’s a quick rise and validation for Artiva, which just last June launched with a $78 million Series A.

Take­da earns win for its TKI in­hibitor in tiny lung can­cer group — but GI side ef­fects could be an ear­ly red flag

Japanese drugmaker Takeda has made a big push in recent years to build a hand in oncology, particularly in the next-gen cancer space. One of those candidates, tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) mobocertinib, recently earned the FDA’s interest in a small section of untreated lung cancer patients, but will severe GI side effects be a roadblock?

Takeda’s oral mobocertinib posted clinically significant objective response rates in a Phase I/II adaptive trial drugging metastatic non-small cell lung cancer patients with EGFR exon 20 gene mutations who had previously undergone platinum-based chemotherapy, according to data presented Thursday at the virtual World Conference on Lung Cancer.

Covid-19 roundup: Con­tro­ver­sy around colchicine per­co­lates af­ter study fail­ure; As­traZeneca's meet­ing with EU was 'con­struc­tive,' but did­n't solve much

A group of researchers at the Montreal Heart Institute has spelled out what they had called positive results suggesting that colchicine, an inexpensive oral anti-inflammatory drug commonly used to treat gout, could prevent Covid-19 complications in newly diagnosed patients.

The study failed its primary endpoint. But the latest scientific debate around treatments for the coronavirus is just beginning to brew.

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