Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Images

FDA ad­vi­sors vote 6-4 against Amy­lyx's ALS drug, fur­ther dim­ming its hope for reg­u­la­to­ry suc­cess

In a marathon hearing Wednesday, outside FDA advisors recommended to the agency that a single randomized study did not provide conclusive proof over whether an experimental ALS drug is effective.

Panelists voted 6-4 in the negative, substantiating the agency’s concerns about the robustness of data in a Phase II study run by Amylyx Pharmaceuticals — by the slimmest possible margin. The drug, known as AMX0035, produced a statistically significant reduction on a functional rating scale, but the effect proved unconvincing to the committee.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 157,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

CBER Director Peter Marks (Susan Walsh/AP Images)

FDA ad­vi­so­ry com­mit­tee votes unan­i­mous­ly in fa­vor of bi­va­lent Covid shots re­plac­ing pri­ma­ry se­ries

The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) voted unanimously in favor of “harmonizing” Covid vaccine compositions, meaning all current vaccine recipients would receive a bivalent vaccine, regardless of whether they’ve gotten their primary series.

The vote marks an effort to clear up confusion around varying formulations and dosing schedules for current primary series and booster vaccines, as well as “get closer to the strains that are circulating,” according to committee member Paul Offit, professor of pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

George Scangos (L) and Marianne De Backer

Pi­o­neer­ing biotech icon George Scan­gos hands in his re­tire­ment pa­pers — and this time it’s for re­al

George Scangos, one of the all-time great biotech CEOs, says the time has come to turn over the reins one last time.

The 74-year-old biotech legend spent close to three decades in a CEO post. The first was at Exelixis — which is still heavily focused on a drug Scangos advanced in the clinic. The second “retirement” was at Biogen, where he and his team were credited with a big turnaround with the now fading MS blockbuster Tecfidera. And the third comes at Vir, where he traded in his Big Biotech credentials for a marquee founder’s role back on the West Coast, hammering out a Covid-19 alliance with Hal Barron — then R&D chief at GSK — and breaking new ground on infectious diseases with some high-powered venture players.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.

Ex­clu­sive: Cell ther­a­py biotech brings on Loxo vet amid glob­al ex­pan­sion plans; Re­tire­ment beck­ons for Vir's George Scan­gos

Bree Harlin, who used to be director of clinical operations at Loxo Oncology, now Loxo@Lilly, is now in the C-suite for the first time.

Harlin started at TC BioPharm on Wednesday as chief clinical officer, the biotech announced Friday — but her journey starts more than 20 years before then. After graduating from college, she moved to Boston, working in academia at some of the Harvard teaching hospitals in endocrinology and CNS.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 157,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

FDA re­ports ini­tial 'no sig­nal' for stroke risk with Pfiz­er boost­ers, launch­es con­comi­tant flu shot study

The FDA hasn’t detected any potential safety signals, including for stroke, in people aged 65 years and older who have received Pfizer’s bivalent Covid booster, one senior official told members of the agency’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) on Thursday.

The update comes as the FDA and CDC investigate a “preliminary signal” that may indicate an increased risk of ischemic stroke in older Americans who received Pfizer’s updated shot.

FDA cuts off use for As­traZeneca’s Covid-19 ther­a­py Evusheld

The FDA has stopped use of another drug as a result of the new coronavirus variants. On Thursday, the agency announced that AstraZeneca’s antibody combo Evusheld, which was an important prevention option for many immunocompromised people and others, is no longer authorized.

The FDA said it made its decision based on the fact that Evusheld works on fewer than 10% of circulating variants.

Evusheld was initially given emergency authorization at the end of 2021. However, as Omicron emerged, so did studies that showed Evusheld might not work against the dominant Omicron strain. In October, the FDA warned healthcare providers that Evusheld was useless against the Omicron subvariant BA.4.6. It followed that up with another announcement earlier this month that it did not think Evusheld would work against the latest Omicron subvariant XBB.1.5.

Pa­tient death spurs tri­al halt for Ma­gen­ta Ther­a­peu­tics

Magenta Therapeutics is pausing an early-stage clinical trial after a patient died. The death was deemed to be possibly related to its drug, MGTA-117.

The biotech said the pause of the Phase I/II trial is voluntary and gives it time to review all available data before deciding what to do next. It’s also reported the known information to the FDA.

The dose-escalation trial was designed to test whether MGTA-117, an antibody-drug conjugate, could serve as a more targeted alternative to high-intensity chemotherapy as a conditioning agent for cancer patients who are set to receive a stem cell transplant. It recruited patients with relapsed/refractory acute myeloid leukemia and myelodysplastic syndrome.

Mer­ck halts prostate can­cer study while re­port­ing pos­i­tive read­out in bil­iary tract can­cer

Merck is slamming the brakes on a late-stage Keytruda study in prostate cancer after an interim analysis showed no improvement in survival, the company announced on Wednesday. However, the pharma giant cushioned the blow with a positive look at a separate study in biliary tract cancer.

An independent data monitoring committee reviewing the Phase III KEYNOTE-991 trial saw no improvement in overall survival or radiographic progression-free survival in a Keytruda combination group compared to the control group, Merck said in a news release. The trial was conducted in more than 1,200 patients with metastatic hormone-sensitive prostate cancer (mHSPC), or those whose cancer is controlled by keeping testosterone levels as low as would be expected after castration.

Roche's headquarters in Basel, Switzerland (Kyle LaHucik for Endpoints News)

ODAC to de­bate Roche's Po­livy in first-line DL­B­CL fol­low­ing 2019 ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval

Once again the FDA’s panel of outside oncology experts will have to weigh in on whether or not to grant another indication for Roche’s potential blockbuster cancer drug Polivy, which some analysts have said could reap $2.4 billion in peak annual sales.

Approved in June 2019 under the accelerated pathway, the antibody drug conjugate Polivy was OK’d in combo with bendamustine and rituximab for the treatment of adult patients with relapsed or refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), not otherwise specified, after at least two prior therapies.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 157,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Bris­tol My­ers claims win with CAR-T ther­a­py Breyanzi in leukemia

Bristol Myers Squibb is looking to expand Breyanzi into more indications — and the pharma’s newest data readout makes progress on that front.

The Big Pharma put out word Thursday that the CAR-T cell therapy met the primary endpoint of complete response rate compared to historical control in a subset of patients with relapsed or refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) that were refractory to a BTK inhibitor and pretreated with a BCL-2 inhibitor.