Ar­ray walks back its FDA pitch on binime­tinib, de­rail­ing plans for com­mer­cial launch

Ron Squar­er, CEO

Ar­ray Bio­Phar­ma has some ex­plain­ing to do. Fif­teen months af­ter the Boul­der, CO-based biotech said that it had the da­ta need­ed for its first ap­proval of binime­tinib for NRAS-pos­i­tive melanoma, ex­ecs are walk­ing back the ap­pli­ca­tion and its plans for a launch.

In a state­ment out Sun­day evening, Ar­ray $AR­RY said that af­ter get­ting feed­back from the FDA, ex­ecs  “con­clud­ed that the clin­i­cal ben­e­fit demon­strat­ed in the Phase 3 NEMO clin­i­cal tri­al would not be found suf­fi­cient to sup­port ap­proval of the NRAS-mu­tant melanoma NDA.”

Shares of Ar­ray dropped 26% in pre-mar­ket trad­ing Mon­day.

Michael Schmidt at Leerink was not pleased. He not­ed:

While NRAS+ melanoma was on­ly a small val­ue dri­ver for the com­pa­ny, we think this comes as a sur­prise to in­vestors and is a clear set­back for the com­pa­ny and mgmt.’s reg­u­la­to­ry and com­mer­cial strat­e­gy. Re­call, man­age­ment planned to build a com­mer­cial in­fra­struc­ture and vis­i­bil­i­ty with cus­tomers this year around the launch in NRAS+ melanoma, which would al­so be in prepa­ra­tion for the planned launch in 2018 of binime­tinib/en­co­rafenib in more com­pet­i­tive BRAF+ melanoma, which is AR­RY’s main val­ue dri­ver.

It was a much dif­fer­ent sto­ry back in late 2015 when CEO Ron Squar­er said that their MEK block­er hit the pri­ma­ry end­point on pro­gres­sion-free sur­vival, with the drug arm reg­is­ter­ing 2.8 months com­pared to 1.5 months for a group on dacar­bazine. It didn’t look like much, but Ar­ray said it was plen­ty to take to the FDA.

In the sum­mer of 2016, though, the biotech al­so con­ced­ed that the drug had not sig­nif­i­cant­ly im­proved over­all sur­vival.

Ar­ray has had plen­ty of ups and downs with the drug. No­var­tis had part­nered with the com­pa­ny, but punt­ed the pro­gram when they ex­e­cut­ed a big as­set swap with Glax­o­SmithK­line. Pierre Fab­ry then took their spot, but Ar­ray held on to US com­mer­cial rights.

Ar­ray is plan­ning to file binime­tinib for BRAF-mu­tant melanoma in a few months.

Last fall the biotech re­port­ed that a com­bo of en­co­rafenib (LGX818) plus binime­tinib beat out a so­lo BRAF in­hibitor, Zelb­o­raf (ve­mu­rafenib), with a me­di­an pro­gres­sion-free sur­vival rate of 14.9 months vs. 7.3 months in the con­trol arm for BRAF-mu­tant melanoma pa­tients. There was a hitch, though, as the pair-up showed a me­di­an PFS of 14.9 months ver­sus 9.6 months for en­co­rafenib alone, which was not sta­tis­ti­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant.

As­traZeneca trum­pets the good da­ta they found for Tagris­so in an ad­ju­vant set­ting for NSCLC — but many of the ex­perts aren’t cheer­ing along

AstraZeneca is rolling out the big guns this evening to provide a salute to their ADAURA data on Tagrisso at ASCO.

Cancer R&D chief José Baselga calls the disease-free survival data for their drug in an adjuvant setting of early stage, epidermal growth factor receptor-mutated NSCLC patients following surgery “momentous.” Roy Herbst, the principal investigator out of Yale, calls it “transformative.”

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Pablo Legorreta, founder and CEO of Royalty Pharma AG, speaks at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Cap­i­tal­iz­ing Pablo: The world’s biggest drug roy­al­ty buy­er is go­ing pub­lic. And the low-key CEO di­vulges a few se­crets along the way

Pablo Legorreta is one of the most influential players in biopharma you likely never heard of.

Over the last 24 years, Legorreta’s Royalty Pharma group has become, by its own reckoning, the biggest buyer of drug royalties in the world. The CEO and founder has bought up a stake in a lengthy list of the world’s biggest drug franchises, spending $18 billion in the process — $2.2 billion last year alone. And he’s become one of the best-paid execs in the industry, reaping $28 million from the cash flow last year while reserving 20% of the cash flow, less expenses, for himself.

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Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Getty Images)

Sanofi CEO Paul Hud­son has $23B burn­ing a hole in his pock­et. And here are some hints on how he plans to spend that

Sanofi has reaped $11.1 billion after selling off a big chunk of its Regeneron stock at $515 a share. And now everyone on the M&A side of the business is focused on how CEO Paul Hudson plans to spend it.

After getting stung in France for some awkward politicking — suggesting the US was in the front of the line for Sanofi’s vaccines given American financial support for their work, versus little help from European powers — Hudson now has the much more popular task of managing a major cash cache to pull off something in the order of a big bolt-on. Or two.

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The Advance Clinical leadership team: CEO Yvonne Lungershausen, Sandrien Louwaars - Director Business Development Operations, Gabriel Kremmidiotis - Chief Scientific Officer, Ben Edwards - Chief Strategy Officer

How Aus­tralia De­liv­ers Rapid Start-up and 43.5% Re­bate for Ear­ly Phase On­col­o­gy Tri­als

About Avance Clinical

Avance Clinical is an Australian owned Contract Research Organisation that has been providing high-quality clinical research services to the local and international drug development industry for 20 years. They specialise in working with biotech companies to execute Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials to deliver high-quality outcomes fit for global regulatory standards.

As oncology sponsors look internationally to speed-up trials after unprecedented COVID-19 suspensions and delays, Australia, which has led the world in minimizing the pandemic’s impact, stands out as an attractive destination for early phase trials. This in combination with the streamlined regulatory system and the financial benefits including a very favourable exchange rate and the R & D cash rebate makes Australia the perfect location for accelerating biotech clinical programs.

Dan O'Day, Gilead CEO (Andrew Harnik, AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Gilead leas­es part­ner rights to TIG­IT, PD-1 in a $2B deal with Ar­cus. Now comes the hard part

Gilead CEO Dan O’Day has brokered his way to a PD-1 and lined up a front row seat in the TIGIT arena, inking a deal worth close to $2 billion to align the big biotech closely with Terry Rosen’s Arcus. And $375 million of that comes upfront, with cash for the buy-in plus equity, along with $400 million for R&D and $1.22 billion in reserve to cover opt-in payments and milestones..

Hotly rumored for weeks, the 2 players have formalized a 10-year alliance that starts with rights to the PD-1, zimberelimab. O’Day also has first dibs on TIGIT and 2 other leading programs, agreeing to an opt-in fee ranging from $200 million to $275 million on each. There’s $500 million in potential TIGIT milestones on US regulatory events — likely capped by an approval — if Gilead partners on it and the stars align on the data. And there’s another $150 million opt-in payments for the rest of the Arcus pipeline.

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No­var­tis jumps in­to Covid-19 vac­cine hunt, as Big Phar­ma and big biotech com­mit to bil­lions of dos­es

After spending most of the pandemic on the sidelines, Novartis is offering its aid in the race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine.

AveXis, the Swiss pharma’s gene therapy subsidiary, has agreed to manufacture the vaccine being developed by Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Massachusetts General Hospital. The biotech will begin manufacturing this month, while the vaccine undergoes further preclinical testing. They’ve agreed to provide the vaccine for free for clinical trials beginning in the second half of 2020, but have not disclosed financials for after.

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Bris­tol My­ers Squibb fi­nal­ly gets in the front­line NSCLC game dom­i­nat­ed by Mer­ck, adding a sec­ond Op­di­vo/Yer­voy-based op­tion

Bristol Myers Squibb may be trailing Merck and Roche in the checkpoint race to treat frontline cases of non-small cell lung cancer, but as it does, it makes sure to bring its best feet forward.

Just days after scoring a landmark NSCLC approval for Opdivo and Yervoy alone for PD-L1 positive patients, the company said the FDA has also OK’d using the two agents with a limited course of chemo regardless of the biomarker status.

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Bryan Roberts, Venrock

Ven­rock sur­vey shows grow­ing recog­ni­tion of coro­n­avirus toll, wan­ing con­fi­dence in ar­rival of vac­cines and treat­ments

When Venrock partner Bryan Roberts went to check the results from their annual survey of healthcare leaders, what he found was an imprint of the pandemic’s slow arrival in America.

The venture firm had sent their form out to hundreds of insurance and health tech executives, investors, officials and academics on February 24 and gave them two weeks to fill it out. No Americans had died at that point but the coronavirus had become enough of a global crisis that they included two questions about the virus, including “Total U.S. deaths in 2020 from the novel coronavirus will be:”.

Roger Perlmutter, Merck R&D chief (YouTube)

UP­DAT­ED: Backed by BAR­DA, Mer­ck jumps in­to Covid-19: buy­ing out a vac­cine, part­ner­ing on an­oth­er and adding an­tivi­ral to the mix

Merck execs are making a triple play in a sudden leap into the R&D campaign against Covid-19. And they have more BARDA cash backing them up on the move.

Tuesday morning the pharma giant simultaneously announced plans to buy an Austrian biotech that has been working on a preclinical vaccine candidate, added a collaboration on another vaccine with the nonprofit IAVI and inked a deal with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics on an early-stage antiviral.

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