An­a­lysts as­sess the dam­age — and next steps — af­ter Re­gen­eron/Sanofi get slammed in court

A fed­er­al judge’s de­ci­sion to or­der Re­gen­eron and Sanofi to pull their PC­SK9 drug Pralu­ent from the mar­ket man­aged to stun some of the most griz­zled ob­servers of the biotech world.

These patent dis­putes are not at all un­usu­al and are al­most al­ways set­tled with a share of the roy­al­ties when there’s a case to be made. And the court ac­knowl­edged that cre­at­ing a mo­nop­oly here was not in the pub­lic’s best in­ter­est. But the judge came down square­ly for Am­gen, say­ing:

(P)lain­tiffs have demon­strat­ed ir­repara­ble harm, as well as the in­ad­e­qua­cy of mon­ey dam­ages.

In­vestors clear­ly didn’t like the sound of any of this. Re­gen­eron’s shares $REGN dropped 7% — about $3 bil­lion in mar­ket cap — and Sanofi saw its stock slide 3%, about the same in mar­ket cap. Am­gen’s stock, mean­while, jumped 4.5%.

The first re­sponse, which every­one an­tic­i­pat­ed, was word from Re­gen­eron/Sanofi that the part­ners would ap­peal the de­ci­sion. But the very re­al pos­si­bil­i­ty ex­ists that an ap­peals court may not be quick to over­turn a rul­ing that came af­ter Re­gen­eron/Sanofi’s los­ing ar­gu­ment was flat­tened by the court. And the pos­si­bil­i­ty that Am­gen will pre­vail here got some top an­a­lysts think­ing over­time about the im­pli­ca­tions and pos­si­ble out­comes. We’ve gath­ered a few be­low.

Ge­of­frey Porges, Leerink

Sales of these new cho­les­terol drugs have not been im­pres­sive. But de­spite the slow take­off, a num­ber of an­a­lysts still be­lieve that these drugs will grad­u­al­ly build up a mar­ket worth bil­lions. Ge­of­frey Porges at Leerink crunched the num­bers if Am­gen’s win sticks:

As­sum­ing that AMGN cap­tures the ma­jor­i­ty of the fu­ture ~$2bn US Pralu­ent sales and main­tains a sim­i­lar mar­gin struc­ture with these in­cre­men­tal sales, our DCF val­ue for AMGN in­creas­es by $13, or 8%. This rep­re­sents a cash flow in­crease of $600mm in 2020E grow­ing to a $950mm ben­e­fit in 2025E, which AMGN could use for con­tin­ued div­i­dend growth, share buy­backs, or fu­ture ac­qui­si­tions.

Bri­an Sko­r­ney, Baird an­a­lyst

Bri­an Sko­r­ney at Baird be­lieves a roy­al­ty deal is the most like­ly out­come. He writes:

Though the rul­ing does in­di­cate that if Sanofi/Re­gen­eron do not file to ap­peal the de­ci­sion with­in 30 days, Pralu­ent will be pulled from the mar­ket, we doubt that will be the re­al­i­ty in the long run. The U.S. Court sys­tem is clear­ly cre­at­ed to in­still com­pe­ti­tion, not cre­ate mo­nop­o­lies. The Judge’s opin­ion clear­ly notes that “the pub­lic gen­er­al­ly is bet­ter served by hav­ing a choice of avail­able treat­ments. There­fore, the court finds it­self be­tween a rock and a hard place…tak­ing an in­de­pen­dent­ly de­vel­oped, help­ful drug off the mar­ket does not ben­e­fit the pub­lic.” The Judge al­so clear­ly hopes fur­ther pro­ceed­ings with “en­cour­age the par­ties to each an ap­pro­pri­ate busi­ness res­o­lu­tion.” As a re­sult, we think a hefty set­tle­ment is like­ly, pos­si­bly to the tune of 20%+ roy­al­ties to Am­gen. As a re­sult, we are rais­ing our price tar­get to $165.

If it does go to an ap­peals court, Biren Amin at Jef­feries doesn’t like the odds for Sanofi/Re­gen­eron.

Re­call in Ju­ly, we wrote about AMGN’s fil­ing an ap­peal case WBIP v. Kohler in­volv­ing low-emis­sion house­boat gen­er­a­tors in which the Ap­peals Court va­cat­ed the judg­ment of the Dis­trict Court deny­ing WBIP a per­ma­nent in­junc­tion. In this case, the Dis­trict Court felt that a PI would de­prive the con­sum­ing pub­lic “a po­ten­tial­ly life-sav­ing prod­uct.” The Ap­peals Court ar­gued that the pub­lic in­ter­est ar­gu­ment alone was not suf­fi­cient to de­ny a PI for a life-sav­ing good and specif­i­cal­ly cit­ed phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal drugs as an ex­am­ple in its rul­ing. If the Ap­peals Court is con­sis­tent with the WBIP v. Kohler rul­ing, it would mean a low like­li­hood that an ap­peal will be grant­ed.

 

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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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Seagen interim CEO Roger Dansey and Daiichi Sankyo CEO Sunao Manabe

Paving the way for Mer­ck­'s buy­out, Seagen los­es ar­bi­tra­tion dis­pute with Dai­ichi over ADC tech

As Seagen awaits a final buyout offer from Merck that could be in the territory of $40 billion, Seagen revealed Friday afternoon that it lost an arbitration dispute with Daiichi Sankyo relating to the companies’ 2008 collaboration around the use of antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) technology.

But that loss likely won’t matter much when it comes to Merck’s deal.

After breaking off its pact with Daiichi in mid-2015, the two companies battled over “linker” tech — a chemical bridge between an ADC’s antibody component and the cytotoxic payload — that Seagen claims Daiichi would improve upon and implement in its current generation of ADCs.

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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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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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