Bio­haven touts a pair of PhI­II wins for mi­graine pill, but shares ric­o­chet off of weak da­ta

Bio­haven has re­leased a set of pos­i­tive Phase III da­ta for their fast-act­ing mi­graine drug, which close­ly par­al­lel a ri­val at Al­ler­gan and trail well be­hind Eli Lil­ly’s las­mid­i­tan. And the biotech will now join the scram­ble un­der­way for an ap­proval in a field that’s about to be se­vere­ly dis­rupt­ed.

In­vestors didn’t like the num­bers ear­ly Mon­day morn­ing, send­ing shares $BHVN down 40%. That clear­ly wasn’t the way Bio­haven was bet­ting. The biotech paid Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb $50 mil­lion just a cou­ple of weeks ago to re­struc­ture their li­cens­ing deal, cut­ting the roy­al­ty stream to the sin­gle dig­its. But in the hours up to the close, the stock — backed by some heavy­weight mar­ket play­ers — went on a roller coast­er ride in the red, end­ing the day down 7%.

Al­ler­gan — which will have an­oth­er Phase III tri­al to re­port on — saw its shares rise a bit, while Lil­ly stock jumped close to 2%.

The co-pri­ma­ry end­points for Bio­haven’s oral rimegepant (BHV-3000) was pain free­dom and free­dom from most both­er­some symp­tom 2 hours af­ter tak­ing the pill in two piv­otal stud­ies.

Their pain free­dom rate was 19.2% and 19.6% for the drug, ver­sus 14.2% and 12% for the place­bo arm. Free­dom from MBS was 37.6% and 36.6% ver­sus 25.2% and 27.7% in the sug­ar pill group.

That ev­i­dent­ly may have been sta­tis­ti­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant, but it wasn’t a big enough spread to con­vince skep­tics won­der­ing about the drug’s clin­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance in a com­pet­i­tive field.

Com­pare rimegepant to Al­ler­gan’s oral CGRP ubro­gepant, where the first Phase III re­port­ed out free­dom for pain at 2 hours for 19.2% and 21.2% for two dif­fer­ent dos­es and 11.8% in the place­bo arm; 38.6% and 37.7% on MBS and 27.8% in the place­bo arm.

Eli Lil­ly’s las­mid­i­tan — which works by hit­ting 5-HT1F re­cep­tors — did even bet­ter, de­spite be­ing dogged by high place­bo rates. Lil­ly $LLY, which paid $960 mil­lion to buy CoLu­cid and las­mid­i­tan, al­so has a CGRP drug that has per­formed in line with the rest of the in­jecta­bles.

Two hours af­ter tak­ing las­mid­i­tan or a place­bo, here were the the lat­est Phase III re­spons­es on free­dom from pain by dosage: 28.6% for 50 mg (p=0.003); 31.4% for 100 mg (p<0.001); 38.8% for 200 mg (p<0.001) and 21.3% for place­bo. In­ves­ti­ga­tors al­so nailed an end­point on free­ing pa­tients of their most both­er­some symp­tom, whether that was nau­sea, sen­si­tiv­i­ty to sound or sen­si­tiv­i­ty to light. The da­ta: 40% for 50 mg (p=0.009); 44.2% for 100 mg (p<0.001); 48.7% for 200 mg (p<0.001) and 33.5% for place­bo.

Back-to-back Phase II­Is, how­ev­er, won’t trans­late in­to a quick FDA fil­ing. Bio­haven not­ed in a re­lease that it won’t be ready to file un­til 2019, keep­ing up with Al­ler­gan on that score.

Vlad Coric

The ri­vals here are bet­ting that they can take mar­ket share for treat­ing mi­graines as heavy­weights com­pete over in­jectable CGRP drugs head­ed to reg­u­la­tors for the pre­ven­tion of acute mi­graine. Am­gen and No­var­tis lead the way on that front, with a drug un­der re­view. Te­va, and Alder are an­gling for a fol­lowup po­si­tion.

The one com­mon char­ac­ter­is­tic of these drugs is that they all per­form in re­mark­ably sim­i­lar ways, leav­ing oral de­liv­ery and price as two fea­tures that these two new ther­a­pies can com­pete on. Al­ler­gan has al­so had to ex­plain some cas­es of liv­er tox in its first Phase III — a con­cern for the class — while Bio­haven says it saw noth­ing to alarm in­ves­ti­ga­tors in its Phase III stud­ies.

Bio­haven CEO Vlad Coric had this to say:

By com­bin­ing pos­i­tive ef­fi­ca­cy re­sults and a fa­vor­able safe­ty pro­file with ease of oral dos­ing, we be­lieve that rimegepant will rep­re­sent a sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment over ex­ist­ing treat­ment op­tions.

Bio­haven shares al­so took a beat­ing last fall when their Phase II/III study of tri­grilu­zole demon­strat­ed not on­ly that it didn’t work bet­ter than a place­bo in treat­ing spin­ocere­bel­lar atax­ia, but pa­tients in the study al­so re­port­ed in larg­er num­bers that the place­bo helped them more than the drug.

Tal Zaks, Moderna CMO (Moderna via YouTube)

UP­DAT­ED: NI­AID and Mod­er­na spell out a 'ro­bust' im­mune re­sponse in PhI coro­n­avirus vac­cine test — but big ques­tions re­main to be an­swered

The NIAID and Moderna have spelled out positive Phase I safety and efficacy data for their Covid-19 vaccine mRNA-1273 — highlighting the first full, clear sketch of evidence that back-to-back jabs at the dose selected for Phase III routinely produced a swarm of antibodies to the virus that exceeded levels seen in convalescent patients — typically in multiples indicating a protective response.

Moderna execs say plainly that this first stage of research produced exactly the kind of efficacy they hoped to see in humans, with a manageable safety profile.

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Tillman Gerngross, Adagio Therapeutics CEO

An­ti­body leg­end Till­man Gern­gross is el­bow­ing his way in­to the Covid-19 R&D cru­sade: 'I don’t see this end­ing any­time soon'

One of the most influential — and outspoken — scientists at work in the field of antibody discovery is jumping into the frenzied race to create new therapeutics to treat and prevent Covid-19. And he’s operating with the conviction that the current outbreak now once again spreading like wildfire will create plenty of demand for what he has in mind.

Dartmouth professor and Adimab CEO Tillman Gerngross tells me he’s raised $50 million from a group of close VCs to spin out a new company — Adagio Therapeutics — with a full C-suite team assembled to hire up a staff and keep rolling toward the clinic.

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Trans­port Sim­u­la­tion Test­ing for Your Ther­a­py is the Best Way to As­sure FDA Ex­pe­dit­ed Pro­gram Ap­proval

Modality Solutions is an ISO:9001-registered biopharmaceutical cold chain engineering firm with unique transport simulation capabilities that support accelerated regulatory approval for biologics and advanced therapeutic medicinal products (ATMP). Our expertise combines traditional validation engineering approaches with regulatory knowledge into a methodology tailored for the life sciences industry. We provide insight and execution for the challenges faced in your cold chain logistics network.

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Gilead­'s ex-R&D chief Bischof­berg­er heads back to the biotech gi­ant to pick up a pair of late-stage drugs that had been put aside

Norbert Bischofberger knows entospletinib well.

Back during his long, blockbuster run as head of R&D at Gilead, researchers had once held some high hopes for this drug. But to make it work, he and the team felt it would need a new companion diagnostic to identify patients. There was talk of a combo approach to give it more punch. But the market was small, making them wonder if it would be worth going through a lengthy development cycle to get it through a pivotal.

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The $1B Mer­ck-Bay­er drug that di­vid­ed car­di­ol­o­gists in March gets pri­or­i­ty re­view

Three months after Merck published in the New England Journal of Medicine data that left doctors and investors divided over just how well its experimental heart drug worked, the FDA has handed that drug priority review. A decision is now due by January 20, 2021.

Merck first announced the drug, known as vericiguat, as a Phase III success last November. In 2016, Merck had paid $1 billion upfront for US rights to the Bayer-developed drug. Early projections foresaw a few hundred million a year in sales, but the unspecified late-stage success raised the possibility for far more. After all, Novartis’s flagship heart drug, Entresto, was earning $1.7 billion per year and was expected to reach up to $4 billion in annual sales.

GSK’s Shin­grix leader Guil­laume Pfe­fer has jumped on board Flag­ship to helm a biotech hy­brid as Afeyan’s lat­est CEO-part­ner

After spending 4 years in a senior post with GlaxoSmithKline’s star team positioning Shingrix for a blockbuster approval, Guillaume Pfefer is headed back to the biotech world — in style.

Pfefer has signed on to join Noubar Afeyan’s busy group of partners at Flagship, and he’s taking the helm of an upstart — which today is being merged with another Flagship startup — with some grand plans of its own. The announcement this morning notes that Pfefer will run Kintai Therapeutics, one of the grads of the Flagship labs.

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Who are the women blaz­ing trails in bio­phar­ma R&D and lead­ing the fight against Covid-19? Nom­i­nate them for End­points' spe­cial re­port

One of the many inequalities the pandemic has laid bare is the gender imbalance in biomedical research. A paper examining Covid-19 research authorship wondered out loud: Where are the women?

It’s a question that echoes beyond our current times. In the biopharma world, not only are women under-represented in R&D roles (particularly at higher levels), their achievements and talents could also be undermined by stereotypes and norms of leadership styles. The problem is even more dire for women of color.

Donald Trump and Anthony Fauci (AP Images)

Covid-19 roundup: Fau­ci fires back at White House cam­paign to un­der­mine him

Anthony Fauci has called the White House campaign to discredit him “a bit bizarre” and said he stands by his previous statements, even if he has since changed his views.

The NIAID chief — who has received an outpouring of support following reports that the Trump administration has sent a document akin to opposition research to multiple news outlets — spoke with his usual candor in interviews with The Atlantic.

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John Furey, Imvax CEO

A neu­ro­sur­geon spent the past 30 years de­vel­op­ing a neoanti­gen tu­mor vac­cine. Now he has $112M for a piv­otal test

As a neurosurgeon, David Andrews knew there wasn’t much he could do for his glioma patients after resecting — rarely fully — their tumor. Even with the best treatment and care available, median overall survival is just somewhere between 14 and 16 months.

Then in the 1990s, his mentor at Thomas Jefferson University introduced him to Renato Baserga, a pathologist who had been studying the effect of using antisense oligonucleotide to knock out the insulin-like growth factor type 1 receptor in cancers. As IGF-R1 drives tumor growth and metastasis, the preclinical reasoning went, implanting a molecule targeting the receptor together with the tumor material near lymph nodes can slow down the spread of the cancer.

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