Af­ter get­ting skunked by ri­vals, Pfiz­er touts ‘break­through’ can­cer drug lor­la­tinib, heads to the FDA

Mace Rothen­berg, Pfiz­er

Pfiz­er’s Xalko­ri has be­come a Phase III punch­ing bag of sorts for top ri­vals in the can­cer field. In June No­var­tis’ Zyka­dia picked up an FDA ap­proval to chal­lenge Xalko­ri in front­line ALK-pos­i­tive lung can­cer. And Roche’s Ale­cen­sa has been whup­ping up on Xalko­ri as well, prov­ing bet­ter at cut­ting the risk of dis­ease pro­gres­sion.

So it’s no won­der that Pfiz­er is tak­ing its pos­i­tive Phase II da­ta — post­ed to­day — for its next-gen suc­ces­sor lor­la­tinib straight to reg­u­la­tors.

Now in Phase III, Pfiz­er won a break­through ther­a­py des­ig­na­tion for lor­la­tinib from the FDA ear­li­er this year, promis­ing a speedy re­view at an agency that has be­come a mas­ter at mak­ing ac­cel­er­at­ed can­cer drug de­ci­sions.

De­signed for ALK-pos­i­tive and ROS1-pos­i­tive ad­vanced non-small cell lung can­cer, re­searchers high­light­ed a slate of the mid-stage da­ta on the drug.

The key da­ta points:

  • In ALK-pos­i­tive treat­ment-naïve pa­tients, the over­all re­sponse rate was 90%. The in­tracra­nial ORR (IC-ORR) was 75%.
  • For ALK-pos­i­tive pa­tients pre­vi­ous­ly treat­ed with Xalko­ri (crizo­tinib) with or with­out chemother­a­py: ORR was 69%, the IC-ORR was 68%.
  • In ALK-pos­i­tive pa­tients pre­vi­ous­ly treat­ed with a non-crizo­tinib ALK in­hibitor with or with­out chemother­a­py: ORR was 33%.
  • ALK-pos­i­tive pre­vi­ous­ly treat­ed with two or three pri­or ALK in­hibitors with or with­out chemother­a­py: ORR was 39%.
  • ROS1-pos­i­tive re­gard­less of pri­or treat­ment: ORR was 36%.

Now look for Pfiz­er to press hard to punch back at No­var­tis and Roche in de­fense of its can­cer drug fran­chise. Pfiz­er’s made on­col­o­gy a chief fo­cus in the pipeline, scor­ing some of its biggest gains in the field as it added new drugs through the Medi­va­tion buy­out. And as bil­lions gets poured in­to new re­search, pa­tients have ben­e­fit­ed from the quick adop­tion of some game-chang­ing ther­a­pies.

“Lor­la­tinib is an ex­tra­or­di­nary ex­am­ple of what can be achieved through trans­la­tion­al re­search and pre­ci­sion med­i­cine de­vel­op­ment. Re­call that Xalko­ri (crizo­tinib) was the first drug ap­proved for pa­tients with ALK-pos­i­tive and ROS1-pos­i­tive NSCLC. By un­der­stand­ing the mu­ta­tions that oc­curred in pa­tients that ren­dered their tu­mors re­sis­tant to Xalko­ri and oth­er ALK in­hibitors, med­i­c­i­nal chemists work­ing at Pfiz­er were able to de­sign a mol­e­cule with the po­ten­tial to over­come that re­sis­tance and in­hib­it ALK de­spite these mu­ta­tions. We are very en­cour­aged by the re­sults of this Phase 2 tri­al that pro­vide the first clin­i­cal ev­i­dence of the ac­tiv­i­ty of lor­la­tinib in this set­ting,” said Mace Rothen­berg, chief de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer, on­col­o­gy, Pfiz­er glob­al prod­uct de­vel­op­ment.

M&A: a crit­i­cal dri­ver for sus­tain­able top-line growth in health­care

2021 saw a record $600B in healthcare M&A activity. In 2022, there is an anticipated slowdown in activity, however, M&A prospects remain strong in the medium to long-term. What are future growth drivers for the healthcare sector? Where might we see innovations that drive M&A? RBC’s Andrew Callaway, Global Head, Healthcare Investment Banking discusses with Vito Sperduto, Global Co-Head, M&A.

15 LGBTQ lead­ers in bio­phar­ma; Paul Stof­fels’ Gala­pa­gos re­vamp; As­traZeneca catch­es up in AT­TR; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

A return to in-person conferences also marks a return to on-the-ground reporting. My colleagues Beth Synder Bulik and Nicole DeFeudis were on-site at Cannes Lions, bringing live coverage of pharma’s presence at the ad festival — accompanied by photos from Clara Bui, our virtual producer, that bring you right to the scene. You can find a recap (and links to all the stories) below.

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Abortion-rights protesters regroup and protest following Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Fol­low­ing SCO­TUS de­ci­sion to over­turn abor­tion pro­tec­tions, AG Gar­land says states can't ban the abor­tion pill

Following the Supreme Court’s historic decision on Friday to overturn Americans’ constitutional right to an abortion after almost 50 years, Attorney General Merrick Garland sought to somewhat reassure women that states will not be able to ban the prescription drug sometimes used for abortions.

Following the decision, the New England Journal of Medicine also published an editorial strongly condemning the reversal, saying it “serves American families poorly, putting their health, safety, finances, and futures at risk.”

AstraZeneca's new Evusheld direct to consumer campaign aims to reach more immunocompromised patients.

As­traZeneca de­buts first con­sumer cam­paign for its Covid-19 pro­phy­lac­tic Evusheld — and a first for EUA drugs

AstraZeneca’s first consumer ad for Evusheld is also a first for drugs that have been granted emergency use authorizations during the pandemic.

The first DTC ad for a medicine under emergency approval, the Evusheld campaign launching this week aims to raise awareness among immunocompromised patients — and spur more use.

Evusheld nabbed emergency authorization in December, however, despite millions of immunocompromised people looking for a solution and now more widespread availability of the drug.

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GSK says its drug for chron­ic hep B could ‘lead to a func­tion­al cure’ — but will it be alone or in com­bi­na­tion?

GSK, newly branded and soon-to-be demerged, shared interim results from its Phase II trial on its chronic hepatitis B treatment, one that it says has the “potential to lead to a functional cure.”

At a presentation at the EASL International Liver Congress, GSK shared that in around 450 patients who received its hep B drug bepirovirsen for 24 weeks, just under 30% had hepatitis B surface antigen and viral DNA levels that were too low to detect.

Sanofi, GSK tout 72% Omi­cron ef­fi­ca­cy in PhI­II tri­al of next-gen, bi­va­lent shot — with an eye to year-end roll­out

Sometimes, being late can give you an advantage.

That’s what Sanofi and GSK are trying to say as the Big Pharma partners report positive results from a late-stage trial of their next-gen bivalent Covid-19 vaccine, which was designed to protect against both the original strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the Beta variant. Specifically, against Omicron, they note, the vaccine delivered 72% efficacy in all adults and 93.2% in those previously infected.

Matt Kapusta, uniQure CEO

In trou­bled Hunt­ing­ton’s space, uniQure’s gene ther­a­py shows ear­ly promise

In randomized clinical trial data from a small number of patients, Dutch biotech uniQure shared that its gene therapy for Huntington’s disease seems to reduce the amount of the mutant protein responsible for the disease over the course of a year.

In seven patients with early-stage Huntington’s — four who got the treatment and three who got a placebo — mutant huntingtin protein levels in the cerebrospinal fluid decreased by an average of just over 50% in patients who got the gene therapy compared to around a 17% drop in patients who got the placebo after a year.

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De­spite a slow start to the year for deals, PwC pre­dicts a flur­ry of ac­tiv­i­ty com­ing up

Despite whispers of a busy year for M&A, deal activity in the pharma space is actually down 30% on a semi-annualized basis, according to PwC’s latest report on deal activity. But don’t rule out larger deals in the second half of the year, the consultants said.

PwC pharmaceutical and life sciences consulting solutions leader Glenn Hunzinger expects to see Big Pharma companies picking up earlier stage companies to try and fill pipeline gaps ahead of a slew of big patent cliffs. Though a bear market continues to maul the biotech sector, Hunzinger said recent deals indicate that pharma companies are still paying above current trading prices.

Joe Wiley, Amryt Pharma CEO

Am­ryt Phar­ma sub­mits a for­mal dis­pute res­o­lu­tion to the FDA over re­ject­ed skin dis­ease drug

The story of Amryt Pharma’s candidate for the genetic skin condition epidermolysis bullosa, or EB, will soon enter another chapter.

After the Irish drugmaker’s candidate, dubbed Oleogel-S10 and marketed as Filsuvez, was handed a CRL earlier this year, the company announced in a press release that it plans to submit a formal dispute resolution request for the company’s NDA for Oleogel-S10.