Ahead of FDA de­ci­sion on BTK drug, Am­gen-part­nered BeiGene is one step clos­er to Chi­na OK for PD-1

Chi­na is re­port­ed­ly ap­prov­ing its 6th PD-1(L)1 drug in just over a year — and Am­gen will be pleased with this one.

The OK for tislelizum­ab would be the first mar­ket­ed prod­uct to be de­vel­oped by BeiGene, the em­i­nent Bei­jing-based biotech that Am­gen re­cent­ly took a $2.7 bil­lion stake in. Chi­na’s Cen­ter for Drug Eval­u­a­tion has com­plet­ed tech­ni­cal re­view and sent the NDA to the Na­tion­al Med­ical Prod­ucts Ad­min­is­tra­tion with a rec­om­men­da­tion to ap­prove, Chi­nese me­dia out­let Jiemi­an re­port­ed.

BeiGene is all set to hit the ground run­ning. Hav­ing part­nered with Cel­gene to hawk Revlim­id, Abrax­ane and Vi­daza in Chi­na, the drug­mak­er has built a 700-strong com­mer­cial­iza­tion team. The Am­gen deal al­so puts them in charge of sell­ing Xge­va (deno­sum­ab), Kypro­lis (carfil­zomib) and Blin­cy­to (bli­na­tu­momab) — pro­vid­ed the last two come through af­ter Phase III de­vel­op­ment.

Fol­low­ing the ini­tial in­di­ca­tion of chron­ic Hodgkin’s lym­phoma, BeiGene has al­ready filed an sN­DA to use tislelizum­ab in urothe­lial car­ci­no­ma.

While Cel­gene once held rights to the drug out­side Chi­na, BeiGene re­gained glob­al rights af­ter its US part­ner broke off the pact in the wake of a buy­out by Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb, the mak­er of Op­di­vo.

The fast pace re­flects just how rapid­ly the check­point mar­ket has evolved in Chi­na. Jun­shi and In­novent scored the first ap­provals for their home­grown ther­a­pies, Tuoyi and Tyvyt, though ac­cord­ing to Jiemi­an it’s Mer­ck’s Keytru­da that racked up the most sales: RMB$2 bil­lion ($280 mil­lion) since last Ju­ly. The num­bers for Jun­shi’s Tuoyi and In­novent’s Tyvyt are RMB$332 mil­lion ($47 mil­lion) and RMB$308 mil­lion ($43 mil­lion), re­spec­tive­ly.

Giv­en that com­pet­i­tive — some would say com­modi­tized — land­scape, BeiGene is look­ing to make a name for it­self through zanubru­ti­nib, a BTK in­hibitor po­si­tioned to chal­lenge the dom­i­nance of Im­bru­vi­ca. The drug is un­der re­view at the FDA af­ter nab­bing break­through sta­tus.

5AM Ven­tures: Fu­el­ing the Next Gen­er­a­tion of In­no­va­tors

By RBC Capital Markets
With Andy Schwab, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at 5AM Ventures

Key Points

Prescription Digital Therapeutics, cell therapy technologies, and in silico medicines will be a vital part of future treatment modalities.
Unlocking the potential of the microbiome could be the missing link to better disease diagnosis.
Growing links between academia, industry, and venture capital are spinning out more innovative biotech companies.
Biotech is now seen by investors as a growth space as well as a safe haven, fuelling the recent IPO boom.

Hal Barron, GSK via YouTube

What does $29B buy you in Big Phar­ma? In Glax­o­SmithK­line’s case, a whole lot of un­com­fort­able ques­tions about the pipeline

Talk about your bad timing.

A little over a week ago, GSK R&D chief Hal Barron marked his third anniversary at the research helm by taking a turn at the virtual podium during JP Morgan to make the case that he and his team had built a valuable late-stage pipeline capable of churning out more than 10 blockbusters in the next 5 years.

And then, just days later, one of the cancer drugs he bet big on as a top prospect — bintrafusp, partnered with Merck KGaA — failed its first pivotal test in non-small cell lung cancer.

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Janet Woodcock (AP Images)

End­points poll: Janet Wood­cock takes the (in­ter­im) helm at the FDA. And a large ma­jor­i­ty of our read­ers want her to stay there

It’s official: Janet Woodcock is now the acting chief of the FDA.

And — according to an Endpoints poll — most industry readers would like her to stay there, although a significant minority is strongly opposed.

To recap: Joe Biden is reportedly choosing between Woodcock and former deputy FDA commissioner Joshua Sharfstein as his nominee for the permanent position. Given their respective track records, the decision is set to determine the agency’s lodestar for years to come.

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Eli Lil­ly's an­ti­body cuts risk of Covid-19 by up to 80% among the most vul­ner­a­ble — but will it have a place next to vac­cines?

Eli Lilly says bamlanivimab lowered the risk of contracting symptomatic Covid-19 in a first-of-its-kind trial involving nursing home residents and staff, paving the way for a new option to protect against the virus.

But how big of an impact it might have, and what role it will play, at a time vaccines are being rolled out to the exact population it is targeting still remains unclear.

Among 965 participants in the study — all of whom tested negative for the coronavirus at baseline — the number of symptomatic cases reported in the bamlanivimab arm was 57% lower than that in the placebo arm (odds ratio 0.43, p=0.00021). In addition to that primary endpoint, all secondary endpoints reached statistical significance.

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What’s next for End­points — and how to sup­port our in­de­pen­dent bio­phar­ma news mis­sion

The firehose of biopharma news is gushing these days.

That’s why broader and deeper is the theme for 2021 at Endpoints. You can expect new coverage outside our core R&D focus, with deeper reporting in some key areas. When John Carroll and I launched Endpoints nearly five years ago, we were wading in waist-high waters. Now we’re a team of 25 full-time staffers (and growing) with plans to cover the flood of biopharma news, Endpoints-style.

Janet Woodcock and Joshua Sharfstein (AP, Images)

Poll: Should Joshua Sharf­stein or Janet Wood­cock lead the FDA from here?

It’s time for a new FDA commissioner to come on board, a rite of passage for Joe Biden’s administration that should help seal the new president’s rep on seeking out the experts to lead the government over the next 4 years.

As of now, the competition for the top job appears to have narrowed down to 2 people: The longtime CDER chief Janet Woodcock and Joshua Sharfstein, the former principal deputy at the FDA under Peggy Hamburg. Both were appointed by Barack Obama.

Charlie Fuchs, Roche and Genentech global head of product development for oncology and hematology (Yale Cancer Center)

Yale can­cer spe­cial­ist Char­lie Fuchs tapped as new glob­al de­vel­op­ment chief for Roche/Genen­tech

Roche and their big sub Genentech have just recruited a top cancer specialist at Yale to head up global product development in oncology and hematology.

I just got word that the pharma giant, which leads one of the most active cancer research operations in the world, recruited Charlie Fuchs, director of the Yale Cancer Center and physician-in-chief of Smilow Cancer Hospital. He’ll join the global operation March 1 and will be based in South San Francisco, where Genentech is based.

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Jonathan Weissman (MIT)

Can a new CRISPR tech­nique un­lock the se­crets of how can­cer spreads?

Jonathan Weissman’s team watched the cancer cells spread across the doomed mouse. Engineered with a bioluminescent enzyme, they appeared in scans first as a small navy blue diamond lodged near the heart; a week later, as a triangle splayed across the mouse’s upper body, with streaks of green and two distinct bright red hubs of activity. By day 54, the mouse resembled a lava lamp.

The images would have been familiar to any cancer biologist, but they didn’t actually tell you much about what was going on: why the cancer was metastasizing or which cells were responsible. For that, Weissman’s team had designed a new tool. Inside the original navy blue diamond, they had engineered the microbiological equivalent of an airplane’s black box — a “molecular recorder” that, after the mouse’s death, could allow them to extract the cells and wind back intimate footage of a single cancer’s ascent.

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Kimberly Smith, ViiV R&D chief (ViiV Healthcare)

Af­ter sting­ing FDA set­back, Glax­o­SmithK­line's Vi­iV fi­nal­ly notch­es US ap­proval for long-act­ing HIV in­jec­tion

GlaxoSmithKline’s HIV unit ViiV was dealt a stinging loss back in late 2019 when the FDA slammed the brakes on its application for a once-monthly injection based on manufacturing issues. Now, with that roadblock in the rearview, ViiV has finally made good on its promise to change the HIV game.

The FDA on Thursday approved ViiV’s Cabenuva (cabotegravir and rilpivirine) as a long acting, once-monthly therapy for HIV-positive adults who are virologically suppressed and on a stable antiviral regimen.