Al­pham­ab On­col­o­gy rounds out HKEX's sec­ond biotech IPO year with $230M raise and high lo­cal in­ter­est

Al­pham­ab On­col­o­gy has in­spired a surge of lo­cal in­ter­est in what will like­ly be the Hong Kong Stock Ex­change’s last biotech run of the year, pric­ing its IPO on the high end of the range and rais­ing over $230 mil­lion (HK$1.83 bil­lion).

Af­ter re­jig­ging the of­fer­ing struc­ture and mak­ing up to 50% avail­able for en­thu­si­as­tic lo­cal in­vestors, the biotech sold 179.4 mil­lion shares at $1.31 (HK$10.2) and saw its stock rise to $1.77 ($13.8) on the first day of trad­ing.

Ting Xu

CEO Ting Xu told re­porters he ex­pects to file for ap­proval of their lead PD-L1 drug at Chi­na’s Na­tion­al Med­ical Prod­ucts Ad­min­is­tra­tion in H2 2020, and the de­ci­sion could come by the end of the year in the most ide­al sce­nario.

If ap­proved, the sub­cu­ta­neous in­jec­tion of KN035 (en­vafolimab) would be­come the sec­ond PD-L1 agent to fol­low five PD-1 drugs on the mar­ket: Mer­ck’s Keytru­da, Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb’s Op­di­vo, Jun­shi’s Tuoyi, In­novent’s Tyvyt and Jiang­su Hen­grui’s cam­re­lizum­ab. As­traZeneca has just clinched an OK for Imfinzi.

Among them, Tyvyt — which In­novent is part­nered with Eli Lil­ly on — re­cent­ly earned a cov­et­ed spot on the na­tion­al re­im­burse­ment list by slash­ing its price to $403 (RMB2843) per 100mg, down 64% from its orig­i­nal price, which is al­ready much low­er than its for­eign coun­ter­parts.

There are prof­its to be made even at a sim­i­lar price lev­el, Xu as­sured re­porters.

But even as the check­point agents pile on, Al­pham­ab’s re­al am­bi­tion lies in the bis­pecifics field, where Xu has plowed for six years.

Two of Al­pham­ab’s bis­pecifics are now in Phase II test­ing, in­clud­ing KN046 (PD-L1/CT­LA4) and KN026 (HER2). For the lat­ter, Xu is plot­ting three routes of at­tack: a head-to-head with Her­ceptin in front­line breast can­cer; tri­als in pa­tients with low ex­pres­sion or re­sis­tance to Her­ceptin; and a bio­mark­er-dri­ven ap­proach.

About half of the IPO funds will go to­ward clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment and po­ten­tial com­mer­cial­iza­tion of KN046, with a BLA planned for 2021.

The new round of cash will al­so fund an on­go­ing Phase II study of CD80-tar­get­ing im­munomod­u­la­tor KN019 for au­toim­mune con­di­tions.

Matthews Funds, Or­biMed, Green­woods, MSAL, Lake Bleu Prime, Luye Phar­ma and Taikang Life chimed in as cor­ner­stone in­vestors.

2019 Trin­i­ty Drug In­dex Eval­u­ates Ac­tu­al Com­mer­cial Per­for­mance of Nov­el Drugs Ap­proved in 2016

Fewer Approvals, but Neurology Rivals Oncology and Sees Major Innovations

This report, the fourth in our Trinity Drug Index series, outlines key themes and emerging trends in the industry as we progress towards a new world of targeted and innovative products. It provides a comprehensive evaluation of the performance of novel drugs approved by the FDA in 2016, scoring each on its commercial performance, therapeutic value, and R&D investment (Table 1: Drug ranking – Ratings on a 1-5 scale).

How to cap­i­talise on a lean launch

For start-up biotechnology companies and resource stretched pharmaceutical organisations, launching a novel product can be challenging. Lean teams can make setting a launch strategy and achieving your commercial goals seem like a colossal undertaking, but can these barriers be transformed into opportunities that work to your brand’s advantage?
We spoke to Managing Consultant Frances Hendry to find out how Blue Latitude Health partnered with a fledgling subsidiary of a pharmaceutical organisation to launch an innovative product in a
complex market.
What does the launch environment look like for this product?
FH: We started working on the product at Phase II and now we’re going into Phase III trials. There is a significant unmet need in this disease area, and everyone is excited about the launch. However, the organisation is still evolving and the team is quite small – naturally this causes a little turbulence.

Gilead dusts off a failed Ebo­la drug as coro­n­avirus spreads; Ex­elix­is boasts pos­i­tive Ph I/II da­ta

→ Less than a year ago Gilead’s antiviral remdesivir failed to make the cut as investigators considered a raft of potential drugs that could be used against an Ebola outbreak. But it may gain a new mission with the outbreak of the coronavirus in China, which is popping up now around the world.

Gilead put out a statement saying that they’re now in discussions with health officials in the US and China about testing their NUC against the virus. It’s the latest in a growing lineup of biopharma companies that are marshaling R&D forces to see if they can come up with a vaccine or therapy to blunt the spread of the virus, which has now sickened hundreds, killed at least 17 people and led the Chinese government to start quarantining cities.

Aymeric Le Chatelier, Ipsen

A $1B-plus drug stum­bles in­to an­oth­er big PhI­II set­back -- this time flunk­ing fu­til­i­ty test -- as FDA hold re­mains in ef­fect for Ipsen

David Meek

At the time Ipsen stepped up last year with more than a billion dollars in cash to buy Clementia and a late-stage program for a rare bone disease that afflicts children, then CEO David Meek was confident that he had put the French biotech on a short path to a mid-2020 launch.

Instead of prepping a launch, though, the company was hit with a hold on the FDA’s concerns that a therapy designed to prevent overgrowth of bone for cases of fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva might actually stunt children’s growth. So they ordered a halt to any treatments for kids 14 and under. Meek left soon after to run a startup in Boston. And today the Paris-based biotech is grappling with the independent monitoring committee’s decision that their Phase III had failed a futility test.

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Alex Karnal (Deerfield)

Deer­field vaults to the top of cell and gene ther­a­py CD­MO game with $1.1B fa­cil­i­ty at Philadel­phi­a's newest bio­phar­ma hub

Back at the beginning of 2015, Deerfield Management co-led a $10 million Series C for a private gene therapy startup, reshaping the company and bringing in new leaders to pave way for an IPO just a year later.

Fast forward four more years and the startup, AveXis, is now a subsidiary of Novartis marketing the second-ever gene therapy to be approved in the US.

For its part, Deerfield has also grown more comfortable and ambitious about the nascent field. And the investment firm is now putting down its biggest bet yet: a $1.1 billion contract development and manufacturing facility to produce everything one needs for cell and gene therapy — faster and better than how it’s currently done.

Tri­fec­ta of sick­le cell dis­ease ther­a­pies ex­tend life ex­pectan­cy, but are not cost-ef­fec­tive — ICER

Different therapeutic traits brandished by the three approved therapies for sickle cell disease all extend life expectancy, but their impact on quality of life is uncertain and their long-term cost-effectiveness is not up to scratch according to the thresholds considered reasonable by ICER, the non-profit concluded in a draft guidance report on Thursday.

Sickle cell disease (SCD), which encompasses a group of inherited red blood cell disorders that typically afflict those of African ancestry, impacts hemoglobin — and is characterized by episodes of searing pain as well as organ damage.

Roche's check­point play­er Tecen­triq flops in an­oth­er blad­der can­cer sub­set

Just weeks after Merck’s star checkpoint inhibitor Keytruda secured FDA approval for a subset of bladder cancer patients, Swiss competitor Roche’s Tecentriq has failed in a pivotal bladder cancer study.

The 809-patient trial — IMvigor010 — tested the PD-L1 drug in patients with muscle-invasive urothelial cancer (MIUC) who had undergone surgery, and were at high risk for recurrence.

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UP­DAT­ED: Eli Lil­ly’s $1.6B can­cer drug failed to spark even the slight­est pos­i­tive gain for pa­tients in its 1st PhI­II

Eli Lilly had high hopes for its pegylated IL-10 drug pegilodecakin when it bought Armo last year for $1.6 billion in cash. But after reporting a few months ago that it had failed a Phase III in pancreatic cancer, without the data, its likely value has plunged. And now we’re getting some exact data that underscore just how little positive effect it had.

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UP­DAT­ED: FDA’s golodirsen CRL: Sarep­ta’s Duchenne drugs are dan­ger­ous to pa­tients, of­fer­ing on­ly a small ben­e­fit. And where's that con­fir­ma­to­ry tri­al?

Back last summer, Sarepta CEO Doug Ingram told Duchenne MD families and investors that the FDA’s shock rejection of their second Duchenne MD drug golodirsen was due to some concerns regulators raised about the risk of infection and the possibility of kidney toxicity. But when pressed to release the letter for all to see, he declined, according to a report from BioPharmaDive, saying that kind of move “might not look like we’re being as respectful as we’d like to be.”

He went on to assure everyone that he hadn’t misrepresented the CRL.

But Ingram’s public remarks didn’t include everything in the letter, which — following the FDA’s surprise about-face and unexplained approval — has now been posted on the FDA’s website and broadly circulated on Twitter early Wednesday.

The CRL raises plenty of fresh questions about why the FDA abruptly decided to reverse itself and hand out an OK for a drug a senior regulator at the FDA believed — 5 months ago, when he wrote the letter — is dangerous to patients. It also puts the spotlight back on Sarepta $SRPT, which failed to launch a confirmatory study of eteplirsen, which was only approved after a heated internal controversy at the FDA. Ellis Unger, director of CDER’s Office of Drug Evaluation I, notes that study could have clarified quite a lot about the benefit and risks associated with their drugs — which can cost as much as a million dollars per patient per year, depending on weight.

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