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As­traZeneca COPD drug fi­nal­ly gets OK from FDA, inch­ing clos­er to GSK leader

Almost a year ago, AstraZeneca’s triple-drug combination for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease was shot down with an FDA complete response letter. But on Friday, it finally received the green light.

The UK pharma giant has received approval for its Breztri Aerosphere, formerly dubbed PT010, culminating the drug’s bumpy regulatory journey in a win. Now, AstraZeneca can challenge the leader in the area — GlaxoSmithKline’s Trelegy — without obstacle.

Rick Gonzalez, AbbVie CEO (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Images)

The phar­ma world's cham­pi­on patent wall builder is called out for their 'drip-feed' strat­e­gy to safe­guard the next megablock­buster fran­chise

By all accounts, AbbVie holds the title as a master builder of patent walls. Its work on Humira has been both legendary and extraordinarily controversial, encircling a cash cow that can be milked without any generic rivals butting in until 2023 — as new and better drugs come along to outperform the copycats to come.

And now a group of patient advocates at I-MAK say AbbVie is deep into building its second high security patent perimeter around Imbruvica — the next Humira in the AbbVie portfolio.

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Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Sipa via AP Images)

Sanofi con­tin­u­ing with API spin­off de­spite French on-shoring push, ten­sions with union — Reuters

The question of where and by whom drugs’ active ingredients are manufactured was a fairly niche issue back in February, when new Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson first said he would spin off the French giant’s active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) business into its own public company as part of his strategic rethink of the long-laboring drugmaker.

He likely did not imagine that it would soon become a national security question for many countries as a pandemic threatened global supply lines and a vaccine arms race underscored the advantage those with in-country pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity had. Or that French President Emmanuel Macron would stand in a teal facemask at their own French facilities and tell broadcasters about the need to keep production in France.

John Crowley, Amicus chairman and CEO

In an­tic­i­pa­tion of PhI­II tri­al re­sults, Am­i­cus pares down old debt with $400 mil­lion loan

Amicus received a healthy heaping of good news last month when analysts threw cold water on Sanofi’s late-onset Pompe disease ERT, after a Phase III study essentially cleared the way for Amicus’ competing candidate to be the standard-bearer. Now, Amicus is preparing for a new “path to profitability” with an expected windfall.

The New Jersey-based biopharma announced today it is refinancing debt to the tune of a $400 million loan from Hayfin Capital Management. Amicus will utilize the credit, which is expected to be funded in full on or about August 4, to refinance existing debt and for other development purposes.

Top biotech an­a­lyst projects a gloomy out­look for Pfiz­er's JAK port­fo­lio

Many in the pharma world are hoping — better yet, expecting — JAK inhibitors to provide one of the next big boons for the industry. Few have invested as heavily in this area as Pfizer, which boasts a portfolio including Xeljanz and at least five mid-to-late stage candidates in the pipeline.

But a top Wall Street analyst is pumping the brakes on just how much good fortune is in store for the Big Pharma.

Im­munomedics spells out PFS ben­e­fit of Trodelvy in mTNBC, hunt­ing a full OK just weeks af­ter ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval

By the time the FDA finally granted an accelerated OK for Immunomedics’ Trodelvy, we already got a very strong hint that their confirmatory Phase III study in metastatic triple-negative breast cancer was a success.

That’s because the independent data safety monitoring committee recommended that the trial be stopped early. But just what pointed them to the conclusion was still unclear.

“We do not know the totality of their decision other than it’s pretty evident that the primary endpoint was met; otherwise they could not request to halt the study,” Behzad Aghazadeh, the executive chairman, told Endpoints News at the time.

Shoshanna Shendelman, Applied Therapeutics CEO (Applied Therapeutics)

A lit­tle biotech slaps back at a 'crim­i­nal' short at­tack, vow­ing to pur­sue a pros­e­cu­tion of their case

As short attacks go, Biotech Research Partners’ assault on Applied Therapeutics’ “cherry picked” data and a variety of so-called red flags didn’t cause a whole lot of damage. Ahead of the July 4 holiday, its shares $APLT were dinged and showed signs of quick recovery.

But that didn’t stop an incendiary response, as the biotech swung into action bright and early Monday morning.

Applied Therapeutics accused the authors of the short report of manipulating graphs and figures, misrepresenting data and included factual misrepresentations — all of which added up, in their view, to fraud.

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Donald and Melania Trump watch the smoke of fireworks from the South Lawn of the White House on July 4, 2020 (via Getty)

Which drug de­vel­op­ers of­fer Trump a quick, game-chang­ing ‘so­lu­tion’ as the pan­dem­ic roars back? Eli Lil­ly and Ab­Cellera look to break out of the pack

We are unleashing our nation’s scientific brilliance and will likely have a therapeutic and/or vaccine solution long before the end of the year.

— Donald Trump, July 4

Next week administration officials plan to promote a new study they say shows promising results on therapeutics, the officials said. They wouldn’t describe the study in any further detail because, they said, its disclosure would be “market-moving.”

— NBC News, July 3

Something’s cooking. And it’s not just July 4 leftovers involving stale buns and uneaten hot dogs.

Over the long weekend observers picked up signs that the focus in the Trump administration may swiftly shift from the bright spotlight on vaccines being promised this fall, around the time of the election, to include drugs that could possibly keep patients out of the hospital and take the political sting out of the soaring Covid-19 numbers causing embarrassment in states that swiftly reopened — as Trump cheered along.

So far, Gilead has been the chief beneficiary of the drive on drugs, swiftly offering enough early data to get remdesivir an emergency authorization and into the hands of the US government. But their drug, while helpful in cutting stays, is known for a limited, modest effect. And that won’t tamp down on the hurricane of criticism that’s been tearing at the White House, and buffeting the president’s most stalwart core defenders as the economy suffers.

We’ve had positive early-stage vaccine data, most recently from Pfizer and BioNTech, playing catchup on an mRNA race led by Moderna — where every little sign of potential trouble is magnified into a lethal threat, just as every advance excites a frenzy of support. But that race still has months to play out, with more Phase I data due ahead of the mid-stage numbers looming ahead. A vaccine may not be available in large enough quantities until well into 2021, which is still wildly ambitious.

So what about a drug solution?

Trump’s initial support for a panacea focused on hydroxychloroquine. But that fizzled in the face of data underscoring its ineffectiveness — killing trials that aren’t likely to be restarted because of a recent population-based study offering some support. And there are a number of existing drugs being repurposed to see how they help hospitalized patients.

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Vas Narasimhan, Novartis CEO (Patrick Straub/​EPA-EFE/​Shutterstock)

No­var­tis pays $678M for kick­back scheme as Vas Narasimhan tries to dis­tance phar­ma gi­ant from shady be­hav­ior

Novartis has reached another large settlement to resolve misconduct allegations, agreeing to pay more than $678 million to settle claims that it had spent hundreds of millions of dollars on lavish dinners, so-called speaking fees and expensive alcohol “that were nothing more than bribes” to get doctors to prescribe Novartis medications.

The top-shelf alcohol and lavish meals included a $3,250 per person night at Nobu in Dallas, a $672-per person dinner at Washington DC’s Smith & Wollensky and a $314 per person meal at Sushi Roku in Pasadena, according to the Justice Department complaint. There were at least 7 trips to Hooters and fishing trips in Alaska and off the Florida coast. Each of these events were supposed to be “speaker programs” where doctors educated other doctors on a drug, but the DOJ alleged many were “bogus” wine-and-dine events where the drug was barely mentioned, if at all.  (“Nobody presented slides on the fishing trips,” the complaint says.)

No­var­tis los­es biosim­i­lar ap­peal as court up­holds a 31-year mo­nop­oly by Am­gen's En­brel

A new court ruling has strengthened Amgen’s grip on the IP estate around Enbrel, keeping biosimilars of the autoimmune and inflammatory drug at bay until 2029.

Novartis, the patent challenger, isn’t throwing in the towel yet. In a statement noting the failed appeal, its generics division Sandoz noted its reviewing options, “including potential appeal to US Supreme Court.”

It’s been almost four years since the FDA approved Erelzi, Sandoz’s copycat version of Enbrel. While sales of the Pfizer-partnered drug in the US — the market Amgen is in charge of — have dipped slightly during that time, it remains a solid megablockbuster with 2019 revenue slightly above $5 billion.