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.

Now, elagolix in com­bi­na­tion with two hor­mone drugs — estra­di­ol and norethin­drone ac­etate — has been ap­proved by the FDA. Ab­b­Vie will sell the twice-dai­ly reg­i­men as Ori­ahnn.

Mean­while, com­peti­tors such as My­ovant and Ob­sE­va al­so have ri­val oral GnRH re­cep­tor an­tag­o­nists wait­ing in the wings.

Char­lotte Owens, Ab­b­Vie

“In the ab­sence of head-to-head com­par­isons … it’s re­al­ly hard for us to com­pare and con­trast with drugs that are cur­rent­ly in de­vel­op­ment right now,” said Char­lotte Owens, med­ical di­rec­tor of gen­er­al med­i­cine at Ab­b­Vie, in an in­ter­view.

Ori­ahnn’s ap­proval was based on two six-month piv­otal stud­ies — each study re­quired the reg­i­men to gen­er­ate a sta­tis­ti­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on re­duc­ing blood loss by at least 50% in pa­tients. Each study al­so had an elagolix monother­a­py arm.

In one late-stage study, 68.5% (p<0.001) of elagolix com­bo-treat­ed women with uter­ine fi­broids hit that goal com­pared to place­bo (8.7%), in the sec­ond tri­al 76.2% elagolix com­bo-treat­ed women achieved the end­point com­pared to place­bo (10.1%). How­ev­er, the drug’s side ef­fect pro­file caused pause large­ly due to the loss of bone den­si­ty in pa­tients who re­ceived the Ab­b­Vie drug.

An­a­lysts have sug­gest­ed the Ob­sE­va and My­ovant ther­a­pies could have an edge over the Ab­b­Vie drug, if ap­proved.  But the two ri­vals will have been beat­en to mar­ket and nei­ther have the com­mer­cial prowess that a be­he­moth like Ab­b­Vie can boast of.

Ob­sE­va has test­ed its GnRH drug lin­zagolix in pa­tients with and with­out ABT. Late last year, the Swiss drug­mak­er post­ed da­ta from the PRIM­ROSE 2 tri­al, which test­ed two dos­es of the drug against a place­bo. The re­sults showed 93.9% for women re­ceiv­ing 200 mg of the drug with ABT tri­al saw more than 50% re­duc­tion in bleed­ing, and 56.7% for women re­ceiv­ing 100 mg with­out ABT achieved the same goal, com­pared to 29.4% in the place­bo group.

Al­though an­a­lysts have been en­cour­aged by the pos­i­tive da­ta in pa­tients who re­spond­ed well to the drug de­spite the lack of ABT (women pre­dis­posed to high BMI, CV risk and di­a­betes are typ­i­cal­ly not pre­scribed ABT) in the drug’s safe­ty pro­file, par­tic­u­lar­ly bone den­si­ty loss, did vex in­vestors. The com­pa­ny has an­oth­er piv­otal study that is ex­pect­ed to read out in the com­ing months.

Mean­while, My­ovant Sci­ences is al­so in the mix with its of­fer­ing: re­l­u­golix. The drug, like the Ab­b­Vie reg­i­men, is de­signed for use in com­bi­na­tion with ABT. Cur­rent­ly un­der FDA re­view, the reg­i­men was al­so test­ed in two phase III stud­ies, with the same main goal: 50% or more re­duc­tion in blood loss.

In one study, 71.2% of women re­ceiv­ing re­l­u­golix reg­i­men achieved the clin­i­cal re­sponse they were look­ing for, com­pared to on­ly 14.7% in the con­trol arm. In the oth­er, 73.4% of women on the re­l­u­golix arm achieved the same goal, com­pared with 18.9% of women re­ceiv­ing place­bo.  Cru­cial­ly, though, My­ovant’s did no sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ences in terms of bone min­er­al den­si­ty.

“The re­sponse rates demon­strat­ed in these tri­als were com­pa­ra­ble to those shown by Ab­b­Vie’s ap­proved GnRH in­hibitor, Orilis­sa, while main­tain­ing a sta­ble bone min­er­al den­si­ty pro­file with a once-dai­ly op­tion,” Baird’s Bri­an Sko­r­ney wrote in a note ear­li­er this month.

End­points News has con­tact­ed Ab­b­Vie for com­ment on Ori­ahnn pric­ing.

Mi­no­ryx and Sper­o­genix ink an ex­clu­sive li­cense agree­ment to de­vel­op and com­mer­cial­ize lerigli­ta­zone in Chi­na

September 23, 2020 – Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai (China) and Mataró, Barcelona (Spain)  

Minoryx will receive an upfront and milestone payments of up to $78 million, as well as double digit royalties on annual net sales 

Sperogenix will receive exclusive rights to develop and commercialize leriglitazone for the treatment of X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD), a rare life-threatening neurological condition

FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn at the White House (AP Images)

Un­der fire, FDA to is­sue stricter guid­ance for Covid-19 vac­cine EUA this week — re­port

The FDA has been insisting for months that a Covid-19 vaccine had to be at least 50% effective – a measure of transparency meant to shore public trust in the agency and in a vaccine that had been brought forward at record speed and record political pressure. But now, with concerns of a Trump-driven authorization arriving before the election, the agency may be raising the bar.

The FDA is set to release new guidance that would raise safety and efficacy requirements for a vaccine EUA above earlier guidance and above the criteria used for convalescent plasma or hydroxychloroquine, The Washington Post reported. Experts say this significantly lowers the odds of an approval before the election on November 3, which Trump has promised despite vocal concerns from public health officials, and could help shore up public trust in the agency and any eventual vaccine.

PhII Alzheimer's fail­ure deals new blow to Roche, AC Im­mune — but the tau hy­poth­e­sis is far from dead

The leading anti-tau antibody has failed its first Phase II testing, casting a shadow on a popular target (just trailing amyloid beta) for Alzheimer’s disease.

Roche and AC Immune are quick to acknowledge disappointment in the topline readout, which suggested that semorinemab did not reduce cognitive decline among patients with early Alzheimer’s disease, who are either just starting to have symptoms or have mild manifestations.

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Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) (Tasos Katopodis/Pool via AP Images)

The mi­cro-cap that tapped a mask-skep­tic con­gress­man for their Covid DSMB is ap­ply­ing for an EUA. Their ev­i­dence? 21 pa­tients

NeuroRx, the tiny biotech that came under fire last week after Politico reported they selected a congressman and two other acquaintances of the CEO to supervise their Covid-19 drug trial, announced today that they will ask the FDA to authorize their drug based on the results of just 21 patients.

Such an application would test the agency’s standards of evidence for an EUA, which have already come under scrutiny after controversial authorizations for convalescent plasma and hydroxychloroquine. The only other company to discuss their intention to file for an EUA, Eli Lilly, did so after results came back from a randomized control study testing their antibody in over 450 patients.

Vas Narasimhan (AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Still held down by clin­i­cal hold, No­var­tis' Zol­gens­ma falls fur­ther be­hind Bio­gen and Roche as FDA asks for a new piv­otal study

Last October, the FDA slowed down Novartis’ quest to extend its gene therapy to older spinal muscular atrophy patients by slapping a partial hold on intrathecal administration. Almost a year later, the hold is still there, and regulators are adding another hurdle required for regulatory submission: a new pivotal confirmatory study.

The new requirement — which departs significantly from Novartis’ prior expectations — will likely stretch the path to registration beyond 2021, when analysts were expecting a BLA submission. That could mean more time for Biogen to reap Spinraza revenues and Roche to ramp up sales of Evrysdi in the absence of a rival.

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Secretary of health and human services Alex Azar speaking in the Rose Garden at the White House (Photo: AFP)

Trump’s HHS claims ab­solute au­thor­i­ty over the FDA, clear­ing path to a vac­cine EUA

The top career staff at the FDA has vowed not to let politics overrule science when looking at vaccine data this fall. But Alex Azar, who happens to be their boss’s boss, apparently won’t even give them a chance to stand in the way.

In a new memorandum issued Tuesday last week, the HHS chief stripped the FDA and other health agencies under his purview of their rule making ability, asserting all such power “is reserved to the Secretary.” Sheila Kaplan of the New York Times first obtained and reported the details of the September 15 bulletin.

News brief­ing: PureTech plans Nas­daq de­but with sec­ondary list­ing; GoodRx prices $725M IPO

London Stock Exchange-listed PureTech Health announced Wednesday that it’s looking to extend to Nasdaq. But due to its “strong cash position,” the biotech says it isn’t issuing any new shares in the potential secondary listing.

The company’s shares closed at £256.50 Tuesday on the London Stock Exchange. Its candidate LYT-100 is currently in Phase I development for various indications, including lymphatic flow disorders and fibrotic and inflammatory disorders. PureTech is expecting a Phase Ib readout in lymphatic flow disorders later this year, and is also planning to launch a Phase II study for the drug to treat respiratory conditions experienced after Covid-19.

Covid-19 roundup: J&J be­gins piv­otal Phase III tri­al for vac­cine; Con­tro­ver­sial hu­man chal­lenge tri­als to be­gin in Lon­don — re­port

Johnson & Johnson announced it’s beginning a pivotal Phase III trial for its Covid-19 candidate, JNJ-78436735 — the first single-dose vaccine in this stage.

The Phase III trial, dubbed ENSEMBLE, will enroll 60,000 patients worldwide, making it the largest Phase III study of a Covid-19 vaccine to date. J&J said the candidate achieved positive interim results in a Phase I/IIa study, which will be published “imminently.” There’s a possibility that the first batches will be ready for potential emergency use in early 2021, according to the biotech.

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J&J re­leas­es PhI­II safe­ty blue­print for Covid-19 vac­cine tri­al. How does it stack up to Mod­er­na, Pfiz­er and As­traZeneca?

Along with the initiation of its Phase III Covid-19 vaccine study announced Wednesday morning, Johnson & Johnson also released its trial protocol, giving an inside look at how the company is conducting its late-stage research.

The move comes after the other three companies conducting Phase III’s in the US — Moderna, Pfizer and AstraZeneca — each disclosed their own trial blueprints within the last week. Though the release of such protocols is typically done after trials have been completed, drug developers had come under intense pressure after a brief safety scare in an AstraZeneca trial and amid growing concern of a politically motivated vaccine authorization.