President Biden at the White House, Jan. 21, 2021 (Alex Brandon/AP Images)

Biden in­sti­tutes reg­u­la­to­ry freeze on first day of pres­i­den­cy

New­ly in­au­gu­rat­ed Pres­i­dent Joe Biden wast­ed lit­tle time in act­ing to halt for­mer Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s “mid­night reg­u­la­tions” and to re­voke some of his pre­de­ces­sor’s con­tro­ver­sial dereg­u­la­to­ry or­ders in his first day in of­fice.

Biden’s “reg­u­la­to­ry freeze” mem­o­ran­dum will like­ly im­pact sev­er­al moves by the HHSin the fi­nal days and weeks of the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion that im­pact the FDA, ei­ther by with­draw­ing or de­lay­ing the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the ac­tions.

The memo, is­sued by White House Chief of Staff Ronald Klain, calls on the heads of ex­ec­u­tive de­part­ments and agen­cies to “pro­pose or is­sue no rule in any man­ner – in­clud­ing by send­ing a rule to the Of­fice of the Fed­er­al Reg­is­ter [OFR] – un­til a de­part­ment or agency head ap­point­ed or des­ig­nat­ed by the pres­i­dent af­ter noon on Jan­u­ary 20, 2021, re­views and ap­proves the rule.” Pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tions, in­clud­ing those of Trump and Barack Oba­ma, is­sued sim­i­lar mem­os to stop last-minute ac­tions by the out­go­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The memo al­so calls on agen­cies to im­me­di­ate­ly with­draw any last-minute rules that have been sent to the OFR but have not yet been pub­lished in the Fed­er­al Reg­is­ter and post­pones the im­ple­men­ta­tion of rules that have been pub­lished but have not yet tak­en ef­fect for 60 days, “For the pur­pose of re­view­ing any ques­tions of fact, law, and pol­i­cy the rules may raise.” The memo leaves the door open for ex­tend­ing the 60-day pe­ri­od and en­cour­ages agen­cies to open a 30-day com­ment pe­ri­od for any post­poned rules.

Rules sub­ject to statu­to­ry or ju­di­cial dead­lines are ex­clud­ed from reg­u­la­to­ry freeze, as are rules that “af­fect crit­i­cal health, safe­ty, en­vi­ron­men­tal, fi­nan­cial, or na­tion­al se­cu­ri­ty mat­ters.” In ei­ther cir­cum­stance, the memo calls for agency heads to no­ti­fy the Of­fice of Man­age­ment and Bud­get (OMB) di­rec­tor of any rules that they feel should be ex­clud­ed.

The memo al­so ex­plains that it does not strict­ly ap­ply to “rules” but al­so to “any sub­stan­tive ac­tion by an agency (nor­mal­ly pub­lished in the Fed­er­al Reg­is­ter) that pro­mul­gates or is ex­pect­ed to lead to the pro­mul­ga­tion of a fi­nal rule or reg­u­la­tion, in­clud­ing no­tices of in­quiry, ad­vance no­tices of pro­posed rule­mak­ing, and any agency state­ment of gen­er­al ap­plic­a­bil­i­ty and fu­ture ef­fect that sets for a pol­i­cy on a statu­to­ry, reg­u­la­to­ry, or tech­ni­cal is­sue or an in­ter­pre­ta­tion of a statu­to­ry or reg­u­la­to­ry is­sue.”

In a sep­a­rate ex­ec­u­tive or­der re­vok­ing six of Trump’s ex­ec­u­tive or­ders, in­clud­ing the no­to­ri­ous “two out, one in” or­der that re­quired gov­ern­ment agen­cies to re­peal two reg­u­la­tions for each new reg­u­la­tion they in­sti­tut­ed, the new ad­min­is­tra­tion says it is clear­ing the way for its de­part­ments and agen­cies to ef­fec­tive­ly ad­dress the pub­lic health, eco­nom­ic, racial jus­tice and cli­mate chal­lenges of the day.

“This or­der re­vokes harm­ful poli­cies and di­rec­tives that threat­en to frus­trate the Fed­er­al Gov­ern­ment’s abil­i­ty to con­front these prob­lems, and em­pow­ers agen­cies to use ap­pro­pri­ate reg­u­la­to­ry tools to achieve these goals,” the or­der states.

Among the oth­er or­ders re­voked are an or­der that re­quired agen­cies to in­sti­tute a reg­u­la­to­ry re­form task force to re­view its reg­u­la­tions and make rec­om­men­da­tions to re­peal, re­place or mod­i­fy ones that meet cer­tain cri­te­ria and two or­ders that sought to rein in guid­ance from fed­er­al agen­cies.

RAPS: First pub­lished in Reg­u­la­to­ry Fo­cus™ by the Reg­u­la­to­ry Af­fairs Pro­fes­sion­als So­ci­ety, the largest glob­al or­ga­ni­za­tion of and for those in­volved with the reg­u­la­tion of health­care prod­ucts. Click here for more in­for­ma­tion.

Pi­o­neer­ing Click Chem­istry in Hu­mans

Reimagining cancer treatments

Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for nearly 10 million deaths in 2020, which is nearly one in six deaths. Recently, we have seen incredible advances in novel cancer therapies such as immune checkpoint inhibitors, cell therapies, and antibody-drug conjugates that have revamped cancer care and improved survival rates for patients.

Despite this significant progress in therapeutic targeting, why are we still seeing such a high mortality rate? The reason is that promising therapies are often limited by their therapeutic index, which is a measure of the effective dose of a drug, relative to its safety. If we could broaden the therapeutic indices of currently available medicines, it would revolutionize cancer treatments. We are still on the quest to find the ultimate cancer medicine – highly effective in several cancer types, safe, and precisely targeted to the tumor site.

Justin Klee (L) and Joshua Cohen, Amylyx co-CEOs (Cody O'Loughlin/The New York Times; courtesy Amylyx)

Ad­vo­cates, ex­perts cry foul over Amy­lyx's new ALS drug, cit­ing is­sues with price, PhI­II com­mit­ment

Not 24 hours after earning the first ALS drug approval in five years, Amylyx Pharmaceuticals’ Relyvrio is already drawing scrutiny. And it’s coming from multiple fronts.

In an investor call Friday morning, Amylyx revealed that it would charge about $158,000 per year, a price point that immediately drew backlash from ALS advocates and some outside observers. The cost reveal had been highly anticipated in the immediate hours after Thursday evening’s approval, though Amylyx only teased Relyvrio would cost less than previously approved drugs.

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Land­mark Amy­lyx OK spurs de­bate; Some... pos­i­tive? Alzheimer's da­ta; Can­cer tri­al bot­tle­neck; Sanofi's CRISPR bet; 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.

After brief stops in Paris and Boston, John Carroll and the Endpoints crew are staying on the road in October with their return for a live/streaming EUBIO22 in London. The hybrid event fireside chats and panels on mRNA, oncology and the crazy public market. We hope you can join him there.

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Joshua Cohen (L) and Justin Klee, Amylyx co-CEOs

Up­dat­ed: Af­ter long and wind­ing road, FDA ap­proves Amy­lyx's ALS drug in vic­to­ry for pa­tients and ad­vo­ca­cy groups

For just the third time in its 116-year history, the FDA has approved a new treatment for Lou Gehrig’s disease, or ALS.

US regulators gave the thumbs-up to the drug, known as Relyvrio, in a massive win for patients and their families. The approval, given to Boston-area biotech Amylyx Pharmaceuticals, comes after two years of long and contentious debates over the drug’s effectiveness between advocacy groups and FDA scientists, following the readout of a mid-stage clinical trial in September 2020.

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Nooman Haque, head of life sciences and healthcare at Silicon Valley Bank, and John Carroll

I’m head­ed to Lon­don soon for #EU­BIO22. Care to join me?

It was great getting back to a live ESMO conference/webinar in Paris followed by a live pop-up event for the Endpoints 11 in Boston. We’re staying on the road in October with our return for a live/streaming EUBIO22 in London.

Silicon Valley Bank’s Nooman Haque and I are once again jumping back into the thick of it with a slate of virtual and live events on October 12. I’ll get the ball rolling with a virtual fireside chat with Novo Nordisk R&D chief Marcus Schindler, covering their pipeline plans and BD work.

Up­dat­ed: Al­ny­lam re­in­forces APOL­LO-B patisir­an da­ta be­fore head­ing to the FDA

Weeks after uncorking some mostly positive data for patisiran in transthyretin-mediated (ATTR) amyloidosis with cardiomyopathy, Alnylam is bolstering its package with new exploratory and subgroup data before shipping it off to regulators.

The RNAi drug maintained “generally consistent” benefits in efficacy and quality of life across several prespecified subgroups at month 12, Alnylam announced on Friday afternoon, including age, baseline tafamidis use, ATTR amyloidosis type, baseline six-minute walk test score and others.

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#AAO22: J&J’s first look at com­mon eye dis­ease port­fo­lio pads the case for PhII of gene ther­a­py

CHICAGO — While the later-stage drug developers in the geographic atrophy field are near the finish line, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen is taking a more deliberate route, with a treatment that it hopes to be a one-time fix.

The Big Pharma will take its Hemera Biosciences-acquired gene therapy into a Phase II study later this year in patients with GA, a common form of age-related macular degeneration that impacts about five million people worldwide. To get there, Janssen touted early-stage safety data at the American Academy of Ophthalmology annual conference Saturday morning, half a day after competitors Apellis and Iveric Bio revealed their own more-detailed Phase III analyses.

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Jerome Durso, Intercept Pharmaceuticals CEO

In­ter­cep­t's OCA fails a PhI­II NASH tri­al, rais­ing fresh doubts about its years­long quest for an OK

Intercept Pharmaceuticals has run into another big setback in its yearslong quest to win an approval for OCA in NASH. The biotech put out word Friday morning that its Phase III REVERSE study failed the primary endpoint for the liver disease, sending its share price into a tailspin.

There was no significant improvement in fibrosis among the patients suffering from cirrhosis who were treated with obeticholic acid, with investigators hunting for a minimum 1-stage histological improvement in the disease after 18 months of therapy.

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Bo Cumbo, new Solid Bio CEO

Sol­id Bio gets a new CEO, $75M cash and drops lead drug as big in­vestors ju­ry-rig a merg­er deal

Three months after Endpoints News broke the story that gene therapy outfit AavantiBio had gutted its CMC group in a reorganization, the biotech’s CEO has helped engineer a merger with struggling penny stock player Solid Bio. And he’s going to remain in charge of the combined operation, as Solid founder Ilan Ganot steps aside.

The merger news this morning features some high-profile investors.

Perceptive Advisors, RA Capital Management and Bain Capital Life Sciences are leading a $75 million raise to add to the pool of cash Solid will have after the tie-up. That will leave Solid $215 million in cash as Bain’s Adam Koppel jumps on the board — enough to pay for ops and get through some key data milestones on their way into 2025.

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