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.

Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk gestures to the audience after being recognized by President Trump following the successful launch of a Falcon 9 rocket at the Kennedy Space Center. (via Getty Images)

Tes­la chief Elon Musk teams up with Covid-19 play­er Cure­Vac to build 'R­NA mi­cro­fac­to­ries'

Elon Musk has joined the global tech crusade now underway to revolutionize vaccine manufacturing — now aimed at delivering billions of doses of a new mRNA vaccine to fight Covid-19. And he’s cutting right to the front.

In a late-night tweet Wednesday, the Tesla chief announced:

Tesla, as a side project, is building RNA microfactories for CureVac & possibly others.

That’s not a lot to go on. But the tweet comes a year after Tesla’s German division in Grohmann and CureVac filed a patent on a “bioreactor for RNA in vitro transcription, a method for RNA in vitro transcription, a module for transcribing DNA into RNA and an automated apparatus for RNA manufacturing.” CureVac, in the meantime, has discussed a variety of plans to build microfactories that can speed up the whole process for a global supply chain.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 84,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Elias Zerhouni (Photo by Vincent Isore/IP3/Getty Images)

Elias Zer­houni dis­cuss­es ‘am­a­teur hour’ in DC, the de­struc­tion of in­fec­tious dis­ease R&D and how we need to prep for the next time

Elias Zerhouni favors blunt talk, and in a recent discussion with NPR, the ex-Sanofi R&D and ex-NIH chief had some tough points to make regarding the pandemic response.

Rather than interpret them, I thought it would be best to provide snippets straight from the interview.

On the Trump administration response:

It was basically amateur hour. There is no central concept of operations for preparedness, for pandemics, period. This administration doesn’t want to or has no concept of what it takes to protect the American people and the world because it is codependent. You can’t close your borders and say, “OK, we’re going to be safe.” You’re not going to be able to do that in this world. So it’s a lack of vision, basically just a lack of understanding, of what it takes to protect the American people.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 84,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Sec­ond death trig­gers hold on Astel­las' $3B gene ther­a­py biotech's lead pro­gram, rais­ing fresh con­cerns about AAV

Seven months after Astellas shelled out $3 billion to acquire the gene therapy player Audentes, the biotech company’s lead program has been put on hold following the death of 2 patients taking a high dose of their treatment. And there was another serious adverse event recorded in the study as well, with a total of 3 “older” patients in the study affected.

The incidents are derailing plans to file for a near-term approval, which had been expected right about now.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 84,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

George Yancopoulos (Regeneron)

UP­DAT­ED: Re­gen­eron co-founder George Yan­copou­los of­fers a com­bat­ive de­fense of the po­lice at a high school com­mence­ment. It didn’t go well

Typically, the commencement speech at Yorktown Central School District in Westchester — like most high schools — is an opportunity to encourage students to face the future with confidence and hope. Regeneron president and co-founder George Yancopoulos, though, went a different route.

In a fiery speech, the outspoken billionaire defended the police against the “prejudice and bias against law enforcement” that has erupted around the country in street protests from coast to coast. And for many who attended the commencement, Yancopoulos struck the wrong note at the wrong time, especially when he combatively challenged someone for interrupting his speech with a honk for “another act of cowardness.”

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 84,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Pfiz­er shares surge on pos­i­tive im­pact of their mR­NA Covid-19 vac­cine — part­nered with BioN­Tech — in an ear­ly-stage study

Pfizer and their partners at the mRNA specialist BioNTech have published the first glimpse of biomarker data from an early-stage study spotlighting the “robust immunogenicity” triggered by their Covid-19 vaccine, which is one of the leaders in the race to vanquish the global pandemic.

Researchers selected 45 healthy volunteers 18-55 years of age for the study. They were randomized to receive 2 doses, separated by 21 days, of 10 µg, 30 µg, or 100 µg of BNT162b1, “a lipid nanoparticle-formulated, nucleoside-modified, mRNA vaccine that encodes trimerized SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein RBD.” Their responses were compared against the effect of a natural, presumably protective defense offered by a regular infection.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 84,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

An ex­pe­ri­enced biotech is stitched to­geth­er from transpa­cif­ic parts, with 265 staffers and a fo­cus on ‘new bi­ol­o­gy’

Over the past few years, different teams at a pair of US-based biotechs and in labs in Japan have labored to piece together a group of cancer drug programs, sharing a single corporate umbrella with research colleagues in Japan. But now their far-flung operations have been knit together into a single unit, creating a pipeline with 10 cancer drug development programs — going from early-stage right into Phase III — and a host of discovery projects managed by a collective staff of some 265 people.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 84,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

New stan­dard of care? FDA hands Pfiz­er, Mer­ck KGaA an OK for Baven­cio in blad­der can­cer

The breakthrough therapy designation Pfizer and Merck KGaA notched for Bavencio in bladder cancer has quickly paved way for a full approval.

The PD-L1 drug is now sanctioned as a first-line maintenance treatment for patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma, applicable in cases where cancer hasn’t progressed after platinum-containing chemotherapy.

Petros Grivas, the principal investigator of the supporting Phase III JAVELIN Bladder 100, called the approval “one of the most significant advances in the treatment paradigm in this setting in 30 years.”

Joseph Kim, Inovio CEO (Andrew Harnik, AP Images)

Pos­i­tive Covid-19 vac­cine da­ta? New mouse study? OWS in­clu­sion? Yep, but some­how, the usu­al tid­bits from In­ovio back­fire

You don’t go more than 40 years in biotech without ever getting a product to market unless you can learn the art of writing a promotional press release. And Inovio captures the prize in baiting the hook.

Tuesday morning Inovio, which has been struggling to get its Covid-19 vaccine lined up for mass manufacturing, put out a release that touched on virtually every hot button in pandemic PR.

There was, first and foremost, an interim snapshot of efficacy from their Phase I program for INO-4800.

On a roll, Mer­ck blazes through a new seg­ment of the bio­mark­er trail

Merck has notched an approval for using Keytruda to treat a biomarker-based subset of first-line colorectal cancer patients with unresectable or metastatic tumors, as the pharma giant continues to find new niches for its blockbuster PD-1 star.

The OK is significant in a number of ways. Not only does it build on an accelerated approval for all tumors characterized as microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H) or mismatch repair deficient (dMMR); it also marks the first single treatment for colorectal cancer that doesn’t contain chemotherapy.