Cell­tri­on re­ceives CRLs for Rit­ux­an, Her­ceptin biosim­i­lars

Cell­tri­on has re­ceived com­plete re­sponse let­ters (CRLs) from the FDA for two bi­o­log­ics li­cense ap­pli­ca­tions for rit­ux­imab and trastuzum­ab biosim­i­lars, a Cell­tri­on spokesman told Fo­cus on Thurs­day.

The CRLs fol­low an FDA warn­ing let­ter is­sued to Cell­tri­on in Jan­u­ary, which the spokesman said “was di­rect­ly re­lat­ed to the re­ceipt of the CRL. Cell­tri­on is mak­ing progress ad­dress­ing these con­cerns and is com­mit­ted to work­ing with the agency to ful­ly re­solve all out­stand­ing is­sues with the high­est pri­or­i­ty and ur­gency.”

The BLAs were sub­mit­ted in June 2017 for the pro­posed biosim­i­lar to Rit­ux­an (rit­ux­imab) and in Au­gust 2017 for a biosim­i­lar to Her­ceptin (trastuzum­ab).

The warn­ing let­ter fol­lowed an in­spec­tion of Cell­tri­on’s In­cheon, South Ko­rea-based man­u­fac­tur­ing site in May and June 2017 that re­sult­ed in a Form 483. FDA al­so re­cent­ly re­leased the 59-page, par­tial­ly redact­ed Es­tab­lish­ment In­spec­tion Re­port.

Ac­cord­ing to the warn­ing let­ter, FDA ob­served “mul­ti­ple poor asep­tic prac­tices” dur­ing the set­up and fill­ing of a batch of ster­ile drug prod­uct. The site man­u­fac­tures mul­ti­ple bi­o­log­ics.

In the EU, the Eu­ro­pean Med­i­cines Agency’s Com­mit­tee for Med­i­c­i­nal Prod­ucts for Hu­man Use last De­cem­ber is­sued a pos­i­tive opin­ion rec­om­mend­ing that Herzu­ma, the biosim­i­lar for trastuzum­ab, be grant­ed mar­ket­ing au­tho­riza­tion in the EU. Cell­tri­on’s biosim­i­lar for rit­ux­imab was ap­proved by the Eu­ro­pean Com­mis­sion in Feb­ru­ary 2017 and has launched in the UK, Ger­many, Nether­lands, Spain and Ko­rea.

An­oth­er Hu­mi­ra biosim­i­lar com­ing to EU in 2018

Mean­while, Ab­b­Vie and Bio­gen an­nounced ear­ly Thurs­day that they have set­tled lit­i­ga­tion and Bio­gen and Sam­sung Bioepis’ Hu­mi­ra (adal­i­mum­ab) biosim­i­lar, known as Im­ral­di, will come to mar­ket in the EU on 16 Oc­to­ber 2018.

Hu­mi­ra is cur­rent­ly the top sell­ing drug in the world, and two oth­er com­peti­tors from Boehringer In­gel­heim and Am­gen have al­so won au­tho­riza­tion in the EU.

Am­gen’s Hu­mi­ra biosim­i­lar is ex­pect­ed to come to mar­ket at the same date as Im­ral­di in the EU, while in the US, Am­gen and Ab­b­Vie set­tled on 31 Jan­u­ary 2023 for a launch. Sam­sung, how­ev­er, said in the US, if ap­proved, its Hu­mi­ra biosim­i­lar will launch on 30 June 2023.


First pub­lished here. Reg­u­la­to­ry Fo­cus is the flag­ship on­line pub­li­ca­tion of the Reg­u­la­to­ry Af­fairs Pro­fes­sion­als So­ci­ety (RAPS), the largest glob­al or­ga­ni­za­tion of and for those in­volved with the reg­u­la­tion of health­care and re­lat­ed prod­ucts, in­clud­ing med­ical de­vices, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, bi­o­log­ics and nu­tri­tion­al prod­ucts. Email news@raps.org for more in­for­ma­tion. Im­age: A Cell­tri­on man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ty. CELL­TRI­ON

Author

Zachary Brennan

managing editor, RAPS

Lessons for biotech and phar­ma from a doc­tor who chased his own cure

After being struck by a rare disease as a healthy third year medical student, David Fajgenbaum began an arduous journey chasing his own cure. Amidst the hustle of this year’s JP Morgan conference, the digital trials platform Medable partnered with Endpoints Studio to share Dr. Fajgenbaum’s story with the drug development industry.

What follows is an edited transcript of the conversation between Medable CEO Dr. Michelle Longmire and Dr. Fajgenbaum, and it is full of lessons for biotech executives charged with bringing the next generation of medicines to patients.

Tim Mayleben (file photo)

Es­pe­ri­on's goldilocks cho­les­terol fight­er wins FDA ap­proval — will its 'tra­di­tion­al' pric­ing ap­proach spur adop­tion?

It’s more effective than decades-old statins but not as good as the injectable PCSK9 — the goldilocks treatment for cholesterol-lowering, bempedoic acid, has secured FDA approval.

Its maker, Esperion Therapeutics, is betting that their pricing strategy — a planned list price of between $10 to $11 a day — will help it skirt the pushback the PCSK9 cholesterol fighters, Repatha and Praluent, got from payers for their high sticker prices.

The sky-high expectations for the pair of PCSK9 drugs that were first approved in 2015 quickly simmered — and despite a 60% price cut, coupled with data showing the therapies also significantly cut cardiovascular risk, sales have not really perked up.

Esperion is convinced that by virtue of being a cheaper oral therapy, bempedoic acid will hit that sweet spot in terms of adoption.

“We’re kind of like the old comfortable shoe,” Esperion’s chief commercial officer Mark Glickman remarked in an interview with Endpoints News ahead of the decision date. “It’s an oral product, once-daily and nontitratable — these are things that just resonate so true with patients and physicians and I think we’ve kind of forgotten about that.”

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UP­DAT­ED: A space odyssey for new an­tibi­otics: MIT's ma­chine learn­ing ap­proach

Drug development is complex, expensive and comes with lousy odds of success — but in most cases, if you make it across the finish line brandishing a product with an edge (and play your cards right) it can be a lucrative endeavor.

As it stands, the antibiotic market is cursed — it harbors the stink of multiple bankruptcies, a dearth of innovation, and is consequently barely whetting the voracious appetites of big pharma or venture capitalists. Enter artificial intelligence — the biopharma industry’s cure-all for the pesky process of making a therapeutic, including data mining, drug discovery, optimal drug delivery, and addressable patient population.

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Mer­ck los­es its chief dig­i­tal of­fi­cer, spot­light­ing tal­ent hunt for the hottest ti­tle in Big Phar­ma

Over the last few years we’ve seen the chief digital officer title become one of the hottest commodities in Big Pharma as global organizations hunt the best talent to sharpen the cutting edge of their tech platforms.

But Merck just discovered how hard it may be to keep them focused on pharma.

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Gilead los­es two more patent chal­lenges on HIV pill, set­ting up court­room fight in Delaware

Gilead sustained two more losses in their efforts to rid themselves of an activist-backed patent lawsuit from the US government over a best-selling HIV pill.

Urged on by activists seeking to divert a portion of Gilead’s revenue to clinics and prevention programs, the Department of Health and Human Services made a claim to some of the patents for the best-selling HIV prevention drug, Truvada, also known as PrEP. Gilead responded by arguing in court that HHS’s patents were invalid.

Today, the US Patent and Trademark Office ruled that Gilead was likely to lose the last two of those challenges as well. The USPTO ruled against Gilead on the first two patents earlier this month.

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Kathy High (file photo)

Gene ther­a­py pi­o­neer Kathy High has left Spark af­ter com­plet­ing $4.3B union with Roche

Kathy High dedicated the past seven years of her life shepherding experimental gene therapies she’s developed at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia toward the market as president and head of R&D at Spark Therapeutics. Now that the biotech startup is fully absorbed into Roche — with an FDA approval, a $4.3 billion buyout and a promising hemophilia program to boast — she’s ready to move on.

Roche confirmed her departure with Endpoints News and noted “she will take some well-deserved time off and then will begin a new chapter in a sabbatical at a university.”

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Tal Zaks (Moderna via YouTube)

For two decades, a new vac­cine tech­nol­o­gy has been slow­ly ap­proach­ing prime time. Now, can it stop a pan­dem­ic?

Two months before the outbreak, Moderna CMO Tal Zaks traveled from Cambridge, MA to Washington DC to meet with Anthony Fauci and the leaders of the National Institutes of Health.

For two years, Moderna had worked closely with NIH researchers to build a new kind of vaccine for MERS, one of the deadliest new viruses to emerge in the 21st century. The program was one test for a new technology designed to be faster, cheaper and more precise than the ways vaccines had been made for over a century. They had gathered evidence the technology could work in principle, and Fauci, the longtime head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a longtime advocate for better epidemic preparedness, wanted to see if it, along with a couple of other approaches, could work in a worst-case scenario: A pandemic.

“[We were] trying to find a test case for how to demonstrate if our technology could rapidly prepare,” Zaks told Endpoints News.

Zaks and Fauci, of course, wouldn’t have to wait to develop a new test. By year’s end, an outbreak in China would short circuit the need for one and throw them into 24/7 work on a real-world emergency. They also weren’t the only ones with new technology who saw a chance to help in a crisis.

An ocean away, Lidia Oostvogels was still on vacation and relaxing at her mother’s house in Belgium when her Facebook started changing. It was days after Christmas and on most people’s feeds, the news that China had reported a novel virus to the World Health Organization blurred into the stream of holiday sweaters and fir trees. But on Oostvogels’s feed, full of vaccine researchers and virus experts, speculation boiled: There was a virus in China, something contained to the country, but “exotic,” “weird,” and maybe having to do with animals. Maybe a coronavirus.

Lidia Oostvogels

“I was immediately thinking like, ‘Hey, this is something that if needed, we can play a role,'” Oostvogels told Endpoints.

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Bank­rupt an­tibi­otics mak­er Ar­a­digm turns to old part­ner/in­vestor for fi­nal $3M fire sale

Grifols once paid Aradigm $26 million for a stake in its inhaled antibiotics. But with Aradigm now in bankruptcy, the Spanish drugmaker is dishing out a final $3.2 million to buy it all.

The fire sale — which comes one year after Aradigm filed for Chapter 11 following a regulatory trifecta for disaster — will see Grifols obtain assets and IP to Apulmiq (formerly Pulmaquin and Linhaliq in Europe), Lipoquin and free ciprofloxacin. In addition to waiving its claims in the bankruptcy case, Grifols also agreed to milestone payments up to $3 million more upon any regulatory approvals.

DB­V's peanut pre­ven­tion patch ap­proach­es key stage of ap­proval process

Almost a year and a half after DBV Technologies pulled its peanut allergy immunotherapy patch from FDA review, the biotech will get their day in court. The FDA has scheduled an advisory committee hearing for May 15.

In the two-horse race to develop the first immunotherapy for peanut allergy, DBV had the early lead, filing an NDA for their patch in 2018. But on December 20 of that year, the company withdrew their application after, they said, meeting with regulators and determining they had not submitted “sufficient detail regarding data on manufacturing procedures and quality controls.” Aimmune filed their BLA 3 days later and won approval as the first immunotherapy for peanuts this month.