Am­gen pulls ahead in sprint to­wards CGRP ap­proval with promis­ing PhI­II mi­graine da­ta

The fron­trun­ner in the race to com­mer­cial­ize CGRP mi­graine med­ica­tions just picked up some added mo­men­tum. Am­gen $AMGN has pub­lished promis­ing Phase III da­ta that might lend to its ap­proval, keep­ing the com­pa­ny — and its part­ner No­var­tis — ahead of its many com­peti­tors in the crowd­ed space.

The drug, re­cent­ly coined Aimovig (erenum­ab), was stud­ied in 955 pa­tients over six months. The com­pa­ny says 50% of those pa­tients re­port­ed the high dose (140 mg) of Aimovig cut their mi­graine days by 50% or greater (com­pared to 26.6% with the place­bo). The drug met its pri­ma­ry and sec­ondary end­points. The da­ta were pub­lished in the New Eng­land Jour­nal of Med­i­cine.

This lat­est study, which the com­pa­ny calls STRIVE, is the lat­est in a string of tri­als test­ing the drug, in­clud­ing four Phase II and Phase III clin­i­cal stud­ies in­volv­ing more than 2,600 pa­tient.

Te­va, mean­while, came up with some im­pres­sive Phase III da­ta de­tails of its own for the ri­val fre­manezum­ab, with 41% of pa­tients on their CGRP drug see­ing their mi­graine days cut in half, com­pared to 18% on the place­bo. The dou­ble blast of da­ta un­der­scores the late-stage race to reg­u­la­tors as some big and small play­ers an­gle for a slice of the new mar­ket.

The FDA has al­ready ac­cept­ed Am­gen’s ap­pli­ca­tion for Aimovig — hand­ing the com­pa­ny a PDU­FA date of May 17 — giv­ing the com­pa­ny a lead on the com­pe­ti­tion. If ap­proved, Am­gen and its part­ner No­var­tis will co-com­mer­cial­ize the drug in the US, af­ter No­var­tis re­cent­ly bought in­to key US mar­ket­ing rights. Am­gen has ex­clu­sive rights in Japan, and No­var­tis has ex­clu­sive rights to com­mer­cial­ize the drug in the rest of the world.

The field is grow­ing hot, with a line­up of de­vel­op­ers po­si­tion­ing their own late-stage prod­ucts for the last leg of the race.

Ear­li­er this year, Eli Lil­ly $LLY cel­e­brat­ed its Phase III re­sults for gal­canezum­ab, with a con­sis­tent 2-day re­duc­tion in month­ly mi­graines. Then Te­va pub­lished pos­i­tive Phase III da­ta show­ing a 2.5-day re­duc­tion in mi­graines with its fre­manezum­ab. Lit­tle Alder $AL­DR is al­so plan­ning to join the com­mer­cial fight with their drug. And Al­ler­gan $AGN has a late-stage pro­gram un­der­way for an oral CGRP ther­a­py it in-li­censed from Mer­ck in 2015 with a $250 mil­lion up­front.

Oh yes, then there’s Bio­haven $BHVN, which re­cent­ly in-li­censed a sim­i­lar drug from Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb and scored a very suc­cess­ful IPO ear­li­er this year.

The da­ta so far in­di­cate sev­er­al of these new drugs will look alike, and that means pay­ers will like­ly play them off against each oth­er.

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In­no­v­a­tive MedTech De­mands Spe­cial­ist Clin­i­cal Tri­al Reg­u­la­to­ry Af­fairs and De­sign

Avance Clinical is the Australian CRO for international biotechs providing world-class clinical research services with FDA-accepted data across all phases. With Avance Clinical, biotech companies can leverage Australia’s supportive clinical trials environment which includes no IND requirement plus a 43.5% Government incentive rebate on clinical spend. The CRO has been delivering clinical drug development services for international biotechs for FDA and EMA regulatory approval for the past 24 years. The company has been recognized for the past two consecutive years with the prestigious Frost & Sullivan CRO Best Practices Award and a finalist in Informa Pharma’s Best CRO award for 2022.

His­toric drug pric­ing re­forms pass; Pfiz­er ac­quires GBT; The long search for non-opi­oid pain drugs; 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.

The Endpoints Weekly has officially crossed the 60,000 mark on subscribers — thanks to all of your support. As the editorial team grows, we’ve been able to do a lot more, with many of those on display this week. Be sure to check out Lei Lei Wu’s deep dive on pain R&D. If you missed it, you may also rewatch her companion panel here.

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Gold for adults, sil­ver for in­fants: Pfiz­er's Pre­vnar 2.0 head­ed to FDA months af­ter Mer­ck­'s green light

Pfizer was first to the finish line for the next-gen pneumococcal vaccine in adults, but Merck beat its rival with a jab for children in June.

Now, two months after Merck’s 15-valent Vaxneuvance won the FDA stamp of approval for kids, Pfizer is out with some late-stage data on its 20-valent shot for infants.

Known as Prevnar 20 for adults, Pfizer’s 20vPnC will head to the FDA by the end of this year for an approval request in infants, the Big Pharma said Friday morning. Discussions with the FDA will occur first and more late-stage pediatric trials are expected to read out soon, informing the regulatory pathway in other countries and regions.

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No­var­tis re­ports two pa­tient deaths af­ter treat­ment with Zol­gens­ma

Two children with spinal muscular atrophy have died after receiving Novartis’ Zolgensma, a gene therapy designed as a one-time treatment for the rare fatal disease.

The deaths, which resulted from acute liver failure, occurred in Russia and Kazakhstan, Novartis confirmed in a statement to Endpoints News. Having notified health authorities across all the markets where Zolgensma is available, it will update the drug label “to specify that fatal acute liver failure has been reported,” a spokesperson wrote.

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House pass­es his­toric drug pric­ing re­forms, lin­ing up decades-in-the-mak­ing win for Biden and De­moc­rats

The US House of Representatives today voted along party lines (all Dems voted for it), 220-207 to pass new, wide-ranging legislation that will allow Medicare drug price negotiations for the first time ever, and cap seniors’ drug expenses to $2,000 per year and seniors’ insulin costs at $35 per month.

Setting up a major victory for President Joe Biden, representatives returned from their summer recess to pass the Inflation Reduction Act, even as many noted the bill would only modestly reduce inflation.

Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) (Francis Chung/E&E News/POLITICO via AP Images)

Sen­ate Fi­nance chair con­tin­ues his in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­to phar­ma tax­es with re­quests for Am­gen

Amgen is the latest pharma company to appear on the radar of Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR), who is investigating the way pharma companies are using subsidiaries in low- or zero-tax countries to lower their tax bills.

Like its peers Merck, AbbVie and Bristol Myers Squibb, Wyden notes how Amgen uses its Puerto Rico operations to consistently pay tax rates that are substantially lower than the U.S. corporate tax rate of 21%, with an effective tax rate of 10.7% in 2020 and 12.1% in 2021.

FDA ap­proves sec­ond in­di­ca­tion for As­traZeneca and Dai­ichi's En­her­tu in less than a week

AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo’s antibody-drug conjugate Enhertu scored its second approval in less than a week, this time for a subset of lung cancer patients.

Enhertu received accelerated approval on Thursday to treat adults with unresectable or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose tumors have activating HER2 (ERBB2) mutations, and who have already received a prior systemic therapy.

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J&J to re­move talc prod­ucts from shelves world­wide, re­plac­ing with corn­starch-based port­fo­lio

After controversially spinning out its talc liabilities and filing for bankruptcy in an attempt to settle 38,000 lawsuits, Johnson & Johnson is now changing up the formula for its baby powder products.

J&J is beginning the transition to an all cornstarch-based baby powder portfolio, the pharma giant announced on Thursday — just months after a federal judge ruled in favor of its “Texas two-step” bankruptcy to settle allegations that its talc products contained asbestos and caused cancer. An appeals court has since agreed to revisit that case.

CSL is gathering its four business units under a unified brand identity strategy (Credit: CSL company site)

CSL brings Se­qirus, Vi­for un­der par­ent um­brel­la brand in iden­ti­ty re­vamp

CSL is gathering its brands under the family name umbrella, renaming its vaccine and newly acquired nephrology specialty businesses with the parent initials.

CSL Seqirus and CSL Vifor join CSL Plasma and CSL Behring as the four now uniformly branded business units of the global biopharma. The Seqirus vaccine division was formed in 2015 with the combination of bioCSL and its purchase of Novartis’ flu vaccine business. CSL picked up Vifor Pharma late last year in an $11.7 billion deal for the nephrology, iron deficiency and cardio-renal drug developer.

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