Bio­gen's last-ditch pitch for an in­junc­tion to pro­tect Tec­fidera is de­nied, paving way for My­lan gener­ic

Af­ter a long and drawn-out court fight, it seems all but in­evitable that a gener­ic ver­sion of Bio­gen’s block­buster Tec­fidera will hit the mar­ket some­time lat­er this year.

The Cam­bridge, MA-based com­pa­ny’s last-ditch ef­forts to stop a My­lan gener­ic fell flat Thurs­day, as a fed­er­al ap­pel­late court de­nied Bio­gen an in­junc­tion in a rul­ing last month in­val­i­dat­ing Bio­gen’s ‘514 patent for the mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis drug. Had the patent not been wiped out, Bio­gen would have de­layed gener­ic com­pe­ti­tion un­til 2028.

My­lan would like­ly be launch­ing its gener­ic “at-risk” be­cause the June court rul­ing is still un­der ap­peal, leav­ing the com­pa­ny open to con­sid­er­able dam­ages. But My­lan has al­ready filed with the FDA to speed up its tar­get ac­tion date, cur­rent­ly No­vem­ber 16, sig­ni­fy­ing its con­fi­dence in win­ning an ap­peal.

Bio­gen de­clined to com­ment, cit­ing com­pa­ny pol­i­cy on lit­i­ga­tion mat­ters, while My­lan point­ed to their press re­lease from the June rul­ing.

Giv­en that Tec­fidera ac­count­ed for $4.4 bil­lion in 2019 sales — 39 per­cent of Bio­gen’s to­tal rev­enue — a gener­ic would have seis­mic con­se­quences in the MS field.

News of the in­junc­tion didn’t faze Wall Street one way or the oth­er, as Bio­gen re­mained most­ly flat at around $276 per share. Robyn Kar­nauskas, an an­a­lyst at Sun­Trust Robin­son Humphrey, re­act­ed to Thurs­day’s news neg­a­tive­ly, how­ev­er, sug­gest­ing that if My­lan’s drug does reach the mar­ket in No­vem­ber, Bio­gen would see a “sig­nif­i­cant” ero­sion in 2021.

Kar­nauskas fore­cast­ed two sce­nar­ios for Bio­gen’s stock, con­tin­gent on the ap­proval of ad­u­canum­ab, one of the com­pa­ny’s oth­er can­di­dates be­ing test­ed for the treat­ment of Alzheimer’s. Should ad­u­canum­ab be ap­proved — which is far from guar­an­teed, giv­en the drug’s de­layed fil­ing process — and My­lan in­tro­duce its gener­ic in No­vem­ber, Kar­nauskas could see the stock price fall to $260. If ad­u­canum­ab is not ap­proved, Bio­gen stock has the po­ten­tial to shed al­most half its val­ue and drop to $160 per share.

Ad­di­tion­al­ly, Kar­nauskas cit­ed a key opin­ion leader who gave Bio­gen an 80 per­cent chance of los­ing its ap­peal in the June court rul­ing. The KOL al­so said it’s “safe enough” for My­lan to go the at-risk route be­cause they’re a large enough com­pa­ny to with­stand sanc­tions.

Both Bio­gen’s and My­lan’s drugs are di­methyl fu­marate prod­ucts, which help treat re­laps­ing forms of MS in adults. Tec­fidera is a twice-dai­ly, de­layed-re­lease pill, and My­lan’s gener­ic is like­ly to take a sim­i­lar form. The Bio­gen patent was in­val­i­dat­ed for “lack of writ­ten de­scrip­tion,” wrote Stifel’s Paul Mat­teis last month.

There is some sil­ver lin­ing for Bio­gen, how­ev­er, as its Tec­fidera suc­ces­sor Vumer­i­ty won FDA ap­proval last Oc­to­ber. The drug, in-li­censed from Alk­er­mes, fea­tures an im­proved safe­ty pro­file but some an­a­lysts ex­pect it to on­ly break $1 bil­lion in a niche mar­ket with plen­ty of ri­vals. Fur­ther com­pli­cat­ing mat­ters is the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic lead­ing to huge­ly dis­ap­point­ing sales num­bers — since its launch Vumer­i­ty has on­ly amassed $16 mil­lion in sales, com­pared to near or more than $1 bil­lion for Bio­gen’s oth­er MS drugs: Tec­fidera, Avonex and Tysabri.

An al­ready rough 2020 for Bio­gen could get rougher in a cou­ple weeks. Af­ter one of the com­pa­ny’s meet­ings in ear­ly March func­tioned as a su­per­spread­er event for Covid-19, a Delaware Dis­trict Court is ex­pect­ed to hear oral ar­gu­ments in a sep­a­rate Tec­fidera patent case on Au­gust 11. But be­cause the patent is al­ready “dead,” ac­cord­ing to the KOL, the judges on the Delaware court have im­pe­tus to rule against Bio­gen.

Jan Hatzius (Photographer: Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

When will it end? Gold­man econ­o­mist gives late-stage vac­cines a good shot at tar­get­ing 'large shares' of the US by mid-2021 — but the down­side is daunt­ing

It took decades for hepatitis B research to deliver a slate of late-stage candidates capable of reining the disease in.

With Covid-19, the same timeline has devoured all of 5 months. And the outcome will influence the lives of billions of people and a multitrillion-dollar world economy.

Count the economists at Goldman Sachs as optimistic that at least one of these leading vaccines will stay on this furiously accelerated pace and get over the regulatory goal line before the end of this year, with a shot at several more near-term OKs. That in turn should lead to the production of billions of doses of vaccines that can create herd immunity in the US by the middle of next year, with Europe following a few months later.

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UP­DAT­ED: No­vavax her­alds the lat­est pos­i­tive snap­shot of ear­ly-stage Covid-19 vac­cine — so why did its stock briefly crater?

High-flying Novavax $NVAX became the latest of the Covid-19 vaccine players to stake out a positive set of biomarker data from its early-stage look at its vaccine in humans.

Their adjuvanted Covid-19 vaccine was “well-tolerated and elicited robust antibody responses numerically superior to that seen in human convalescent sera,” the company noted. According to the biotech:

All subjects developed anti-spike IgG antibodies after a single dose of vaccine, many of them also developing wild-type virus neutralizing antibody responses, and after Dose 2, 100% of participants developed wild-type virus neutralizing antibody responses. Both anti-spike IgG and viral neutralization responses compared favorably to responses from patients with clinically significant COVID‑19 disease. Importantly, the IgG antibody response was highly correlated with neutralization titers, demonstrating that a significant proportion of antibodies were functional.

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Lund­beck sounds taps on an­oth­er CNS drug, re­treat­ing from a mine field still oc­cu­pied by a Mer­ck team

Lundbeck has snipped another clinical-stage branch of its CNS research, dumping a schizophrenia program after determining that their therapy would have no positive influence on the disease.

Designed originally as a 240-patient study, researchers set out in early 2019 to see if a homegrown drug dubbed Lu AF11167 could make it through a proof-of-concept study. The drug is a PDE10Ai inhibitor, targeting an enzyme which it said at the time offered a new pathway to retuning the body’s neurotransmitter dopamine. The big idea was that by hitting their target, the drug would modulate “dopamine D1 and D2 receptor-mediated intraneuronal signaling without binding to these receptors,” influencing negative symptoms of schizophrenia.

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Sean Nolan and RA Session II

Less than 3 months af­ter launch, the AveX­is crew’s Taysha rais­es $95M Se­ries B. Is an IPO next?

The old AveXis team is moving quickly in Dallas.

Three months ago, they launched Taysha with $30 million in Series A funding and a pipeline of gene therapies out of UT Southwestern. Now, they’ve announced an oversubscribed $95 million Series B. And the biotech is declining all interview requests on the news, the kind of broad silence that can indicate an IPO is in the pipeline.

Biotechs, including those relatively fresh off launch, have been going public at a frenzy since the pandemic began. Investors have showed a willingness to put upwards of $200 million to companies that have yet to bring a drug into the clinic. Still, if Taysha were to go public in the near future, it would be perhaps the shortest path from launch to IPO in recent biotech memory.

Stéphane Bancel, Moderna CEO (Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)

Mod­er­na CEO Stéphane Ban­cel out­lines a prospec­tive moth­er­lode of Covid-19 vac­cine rev­enue — will a back­lash fol­low?

Moderna shows no sign of slowing down, or turning charitable when it comes to pricing supplies of its Covid-19 vaccine.

One of the leaders in the Phase III race to get a Covid-19 vaccine across the finish line in record time, Moderna says it’s on track to complete enrollment in one of the most avidly watched studies in the world next month. And the biotech has already banked some $400 million in deposits for vaccine supply as it works through negotiations with countries around the world — as CEO Stéphane Bancel sets out to hire a commercial team.

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Covid-19 roundup: J&J and BAR­DA agree to $1 bil­lion for 100 mil­lion dos­es; Plas­ma re­duces mor­tal­i­ty by 50% — re­ports

J&J has become the latest vaccine developer to agree to supply BARDA with doses of their Covid-19 vaccine, signing an agreement that will give the government 100 million doses in exchange for $1 billion in funding.

The agreement, similar to those signed by Novavax, Sanofi and AstraZeneca-Oxford, provides funding not only for individual doses but to help J&J ramp up manufacturing. Pfizer, by contrast, received $1.95 billion for the doses alone. Still, if one looked at each agreement as purchase amounts, J&J’s deal would be $10 per dose, slotting in between Novavax’s $16 per dose and AstraZeneca’s $4 per dose.

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J&J gets a fresh OK for es­ke­t­a­mine, but is it re­al­ly the game-chang­er for de­pres­sion Trump keeps tweet­ing about?

Backed by an enthusiastic set of tweets from President Trump and a landmark OK for depression, J&J scooped up a new approval from the FDA for Spravato today. But this latest advance will likely bring fresh scrutiny to a drug that’s spurred some serious questions about the data, as well as the price.

First, the approval.

Regulators stamped their OK on the use of Spravato — developed as esketamine, a nasal spray version of the party drug Special K or ketamine — for patients suffering from major depressive disorder with acute suicidal ideation or behavior.

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RA, No­var­tis back Gen­tiBio's seed round, plans to launch de­vel­op­ment of En­gTreg ther­a­pies

Boston, MA-based startup GentiBio landed a $20 million seed fund from three investors to dive into engineered regulatory T cell (EngTreg) development.

Marquee investors OrbiMed, Novartis Venture Fund and RA Capital Management have backed GentiBio’s mission to develop EngTregs for the treatment of autoimmune, alloimmune, autoinflammatory, and allergic diseases. Unlike other companies studying treatments using a patient’s own Tregs, GentiBio plans to make use of CD4+ immune cells, found in the blood.

Paul Laikind, ViaCyte CEO

Stem cell play­er Vi­a­Cyte ex­pands col­lab­o­ra­tion with Gore to de­vel­op sub­cu­ta­neous di­a­betes treat­ment

Longtime stem cell player ViaCyte has teamed up with a materials science company in an effort to solve immunosuppression challenges and advance its type 1 diabetes treatments.

Expanding on an existing collaboration, ViaCyte and W.L. Gore have agreed to combine the biotech’s PEC-Encap candidate with a Gore-produced membrane in what they hope will eliminate the need for immunosuppressive drugs. Such treatments have created foreign body responses in the past, and stamping these reactions out is the main goal, ViaCyte CEO Paul Laikind said.