Aldeyra's eye drug fails piv­otal test in pa­tients with rare, in­flam­ma­to­ry dis­ease

Months af­ter eye drug de­vel­op­er Aldeyra Ther­a­peu­tics tast­ed Phase III suc­cess, it has stum­bled in an­oth­er late-stage study with its lead ex­per­i­men­tal drug.

The eye drops, re­prox­alap, are de­signed to work by di­min­ish­ing alde­hyde lev­els, which can con­tribute to in­flam­ma­tion. In the Phase III SO­LACE tri­al, the drug met nei­ther the pri­ma­ry end­point nor sec­ondary goals in pa­tients with non­in­fec­tious an­te­ri­or uveitis — a rare, se­vere, oc­u­lar in­flam­ma­to­ry dis­ease that can lead to blind­ness. The Lex­ing­ton, Mass­a­chu­setts-based drug de­vel­op­er did not dis­close the num­bers.

“Sta­tis­ti­cal sig­nif­i­cance was not achieved for the pri­ma­ry or sec­ondary end­points, due to high rates of dis­ease res­o­lu­tion in ve­hi­cle-treat­ed pa­tients, but ac­tiv­i­ty of re­prox­alap was con­sis­tent­ly greater than that of ve­hi­cle,” the com­pa­ny said, adding that it is aban­don­ing the non­in­fec­tious an­te­ri­or uveitis pro­gram.

Shares of the biotech $ALDX tum­bled about 15.3% to $6 be­fore the bell on Tues­day.

Re­prox­alap is al­so be­ing eval­u­at­ed for use in dry eye dis­ease, for which Aldeyra kicked off the late-stage RE­NEW study this April. The drug con­ferred a sta­tis­ti­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tion in oc­u­lar itch­ing in the Phase III AL­LE­VI­ATE study in pa­tients with al­ler­gic con­junc­tivi­tis in March. Apart from eye dis­eases, the drug is al­so in late-stage de­vel­op­ment as a treat­ment for Sjö­gren-Lars­son syn­drome, a ge­net­ic dis­or­der char­ac­ter­ized by dry, scaly skin, in­tel­lec­tu­al dis­abil­i­ty, and spas­tic­i­ty.

In May, Stifel an­a­lysts es­ti­mat­ed the non­in­fec­tious an­te­ri­or uveitis op­por­tu­ni­ty is worth about $11 mil­lion, a mere frac­tion of the dry eye dis­ease (DED) mar­ket.

Last month, Take­da $TAK sold its DED drugs, in­clud­ing Xi­idra, to No­var­tis $NVS for $3.4 bil­lion up­front (and $1.9 bil­lion in sales mile­stones). Xi­idra’s de­vel­op­er Shire — which was swal­lowed by Take­da this year — record­ed sales of about $400 mil­lion in 2018.

“We think this speaks to the de­mand for nov­el DED drugs with long patent hori­zons,” Stifel an­a­lysts wrote. “(R)eprox­alap has been dosed in over 700 pa­tients across sev­en tri­als with no safe­ty or tol­er­a­bil­i­ty con­cerns be­yond mild, tran­sient in­stil­la­tion site ir­ri­ta­tion. Com­pa­ra­ble on­set of ac­tion (ef­fect seen as ear­ly as two weeks) to Shire’s Xi­idra and a fa­vor­able safe­ty pro­file to com­peti­tors Xi­idra (dis­con­tin­u­a­tion com­mon­ly caused by af­fect­ed taste and blur­ri­ness) and Resta­sis (dis­con­tin­u­a­tion from burn­ing) leave re­prox­alap po­si­tioned well should it ul­ti­mate­ly gain ap­proval.”

So­cial im­age: Shut­ter­stock

De­vel­op­ment of the Next Gen­er­a­tion NKG2D CAR T-cell Man­u­fac­tur­ing Process

Celyad’s view on developing and delivering a CAR T-cell therapy with multi-tumor specificity combined with cell manufacturing success
Transitioning potential therapeutic assets from academia into the commercial environment is an exercise that is largely underappreciated by stakeholders, except for drug developers themselves. The promise of preclinical or early clinical results drives enthusiasm, but the pragmatic delivery of a therapy outside of small, local testing is most often a major challenge for drug developers especially, including among other things, the manufacturing challenges that surround the production of just-in-time and personalized autologous cell therapy products.

Paul Hudson, Getty Images

UP­DAT­ED: Sanofi CEO Hud­son lays out new R&D fo­cus — chop­ping di­a­betes, car­dio and slash­ing $2B-plus costs in sur­gi­cal dis­sec­tion

Earlier on Monday, new Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson baited the hook on his upcoming strategy presentation Tuesday with a tell-tale deal to buy Synthorx for $2.5 billion. That fits squarely with hints that he’s pointing the company to a bigger future in oncology, which also squares with a major industry tilt.

In a big reveal later in the day, though, Hudson offered a slate of stunners on his plans to surgically dissect and reassemble the portfoloio, saying that the company is dropping cardio and diabetes research — which covers two of its biggest franchise arenas. Sanofi missed the boat on developing new diabetes drugs, and now it’s pulling out entirely. As part of the pullback, it’s dropping efpeglenatide, their once-weekly GLP-1 injection for diabetes.

“To be out of cardiovascular and diabetes is not easy for a company like ours with an incredibly proud history,” Hudson said on a call with reporters, according to the Wall Street Journal. “As tough a choice as that is, we’re making that choice.”

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Roger Perlmutter, Merck

#ASH19: Here’s why Mer­ck is pay­ing $2.7B to­day to grab Ar­Qule and its next-gen BTK drug, lin­ing up Eli Lil­ly ri­val­ry

Just a few months after making a splash at the European Hematology Association scientific confab with an early snapshot of positive data for their BTK inhibitor ARQ 531, ArQule has won a $2.7 billion buyout deal from Merck.

Merck is scooping up a next-gen BTK drug — which is making a splash at ASH today — from ArQule in an M&A pact set at $20 a share $ARQL. That’s more than twice Friday’s $9.66 close. And Merck R&D chief Roger Perlmutter heralded a deal that nets “multiple clinical-stage oral kinase inhibitors.”

This is the second biotech buyout pact today, marking a brisk tempo of M&A deals in the lead-up to the big JP Morgan gathering in mid-January. It’s no surprise the acquisitions are both for cancer drugs, where Sanofi will try to make its mark while Merck beefs up a stellar oncology franchise. And bolt-ons are all the rage at the major pharma players, which you could also see in Novartis’ recent $9.7 billion MedCo buyout.

ArQule — which comes out on top after their original lead drug foundered in Phase III — highlighted early data on ‘531 at EHA from a group of 6 chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients who got the 65 mg dose. Four of them experienced a partial response — a big advance for a company that failed with earlier attempts.

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Paul Hudson, Sanofi

Paul Hud­son promis­es a bright new fu­ture at Sanofi, kick­ing loose me-too drugs and fo­cus­ing on land­mark ad­vances. But can he de­liv­er?

Paul Hudson was on a mission Tuesday morning as he stood up to address Sanofi’s new R&D and business strategy.

Still fresh into the job, the new CEO set out to convince his audience — including the legions of nervous staffers inevitably devoting much of their day to listening in — that the pharma giant is shedding the layers of bureaucracy that had held them back from making progress in the past, dropping the duds in the pipeline and reprioritizing a more narrow set of experimental drugs that were promised as first-in-class or best-in-class.  The company, he added, is now positioned to “go after other opportunities” that could offer a transformational approach to treating its core diseases.

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Am­gen puts its foot down in shiny new South San Fran­cis­co hub as it re­or­ga­nizes R&D ops

Amgen has signed up to be AbbVie’s neighbor in South San Francisco as it moves into a nine-story R&D facility in the booming biotech hub.

The arrangement gives Amgen 240,000 square feet of space on the Gateway of Pacific Campus, just a few minutes drive from its current digs at Oyster Point. The new hub will open in 2022 and house the big biotech’s Bay Area employees working on cardiometabolic, inflammation and oncology research.

Left top to right: Mark Timney, Alex Denner, Vas Narasimhan. (The Medicines Company, Getty, AP/Endpoints News)

In a play-by-play of the $9.7B Med­Co buy­out, No­var­tis ad­mits it over­paid while of­fer­ing a huge wind­fall to ex­ecs

A month into his tenure at The Medicines Company, new CEO Mark Timney reached out to then-Novartis pharma chief Paul Hudson: Any interest in a partnership?

No, Hudson told him. Not now, at least.

Ten months later, Hudson had left to run Sanofi and Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan was paying $9.7 billion for the one-drug biotech – the largest in the string of acquisitions Narasimhan has signed since his 2017 appointment.

The deal was the product of an activist investor and his controversial partner working through nearly a year of cat-and-mouse negotiations to secure a deal with Big Pharma’s most expansionist executive. It represented a huge bet in a cardiovascular field that already saw two major busts in recent years and brought massive returns for two of the industry’s most eye-raising names.

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Paul Hudson. Sanofi

New Sanofi CEO Hud­son adds next-gen can­cer drug tech to the R&D quest, buy­ing Syn­thorx for $2.5B

When Paul Hudson lays out his R&D vision for Sanofi tomorrow, he will have a new slate of interleukin therapies and a synthetic biology platform to boast about.

The French pharma giant announced early Monday that it is snagging San Diego biotech Synthorx in a $2.5 billion deal. That marks an affordable bolt-on for Sanofi but a considerable return for Synthorx backers, including Avalon, RA Capital and OrbiMed: At $68 per share, the price represents a 172% premium to Friday’s closing.

Synthorx’s take on alternative IL-2 drugs for both cancer and autoimmune disorders — enabled by a synthetic DNA base pair pioneered by Scripps professor Floyd Romesberg — “fits perfectly” with the kind of innovation that he wants at Sanofi, Hudson said.

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Ab­b­Vie, Scripps ex­pand part­ner­ship, for­ti­fy fo­cus on can­cer drugs

Scripps and AbbVie go way back. Research conducted in the lab of Scripps scientist Richard Lerner led to the discovery of Humira. The antibody, approved by the FDA in 2002 and sold by AbbVie, went on to become the world’s bestselling treatment. In 2018, the drugmaker and the non-profit organization signed a pact focused on developing cancer treatments — and now, the scope of that partnership has broadened to encompass a range of diseases, including immunological and neurological conditions.

South Ko­rea jails 3 Sam­sung ex­ecs for de­stroy­ing ev­i­dence in Bi­o­Log­ics probe

Three Samsung executives in Korea are going to jail.

The convictions came in what prosecutors had billed as “biggest crime of evidence destruction in the history of South Korea”: a case of alleged corporate intrigue that was thrown open when investigators found what was hidden beneath the floor of a Samsung BioLogics plant. Eight employees in total were found guilty of evidence tampering and the three executives were each sentenced to up to two years in prison.