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Chica­go biotech ar­gues blue­bird, Third Rock 'killed' its ri­val, pi­o­neer­ing tha­lassemia gene ther­a­py in law­suit

Blue­bird bio $BLUE chief Nick Leschly court­ed con­tro­ver­sy last week when he re­vealed the com­pa­ny’s be­ta tha­lassemia treat­ment will car­ry a jaw-drop­ping $1.8 mil­lion price tag over a 5-year pe­ri­od in Eu­rope — mak­ing it the plan­et’s sec­ond most ex­pen­sive ther­a­py be­hind No­var­tis’ $NVS fresh­ly ap­proved spinal mus­cu­lar at­ro­phy ther­a­py, Zol­gens­ma, at $2.1 mil­lion. A Chica­go biotech, mean­while, has been fum­ing at the side­lines. In a law­suit filed ear­li­er this month, Er­rant Gene Ther­a­peu­tics al­leged that blue­bird and ven­ture cap­i­tal group Third Rock un­law­ful­ly prised a vi­ral vec­tor, de­vel­oped in part­ner­ship with the Memo­r­i­al Sloan Ket­ter­ing Can­cer Cen­ter (MSK), from its grasp, and thwart­ed the de­vel­op­ment of its sem­i­nal gene ther­a­py.

A new num­ber 1 drug? Keytru­da tapped to top the 10 biggest block­busters on the world stage by 2024

Analysts may be fretting about Keytruda’s longterm prospects as a host of rival therapies elbow their way to the market. But the folks at Evaluate Pharma are confident that last year’s $7 billion earner is headed for glory, tapping it to beat out the current #1 therapy Humira as AbbVie watches that franchise swoon over the next 5 years.

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Iron­wood, Al­ler­gan add a slate of PhI­I­Ib da­ta to its Linzess pitch for physi­cians, pa­tients

With the dust set­tled on an R&D spin­out, the ful­ly com­mer­cial op­er­a­tions at Iron­wood have come up with some late-stage da­ta to up its Linzess mar­ket­ing game.

Iron­wood, along with part­ner Al­ler­gan, set out to col­lect ev­i­dence that their drug can im­prove the over­all ab­dom­i­nal symp­toms of ir­ri­ta­ble bow­el syn­drome with con­sti­pa­tion (IBS-C), not just con­sti­pa­tion. And the com­pa­nies say that’s what they found in the Phase II­Ib: Pa­tients tak­ing Linzess for 12 weeks saw a 29.7% mean de­crease from base­line in a week­ly score that mea­sured bloat­ing, pain and dis­com­fort, com­pared to 18.3% for place­bo (p<0.0001).

Step­ping on Roche's toes, Mer­ck cuts in­to SCLC niche with third-line Keytru­da OK

In the in­creas­ing­ly crowd­ed check­point race, small cell lung can­cer has been a rare area where Roche, a sec­ond run­ner-up, has a lead over the en­trenched lead­ers Mer­ck and Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb. But Mer­ck is fi­nal­ly mak­ing some head­way in that di­rec­tion with the lat­est ap­proval for its PD-1 star.

The lat­est green light en­dors­es Keytru­da in the third-line treat­ment of metasta­t­ic SCLC, where it would be giv­en to pa­tients whose dis­ease ei­ther don’t re­spond to or re­lapse af­ter chemother­a­py, which would have fol­lowed at least one pri­or line of ther­a­py.

As­traZeneca/Mer­ck win EU ap­proval for front­line main­te­nance treat­ment of ovar­i­an can­cer, months af­ter FDA en­dorse­ment

As­traZeneca and Mer­ck’s PARP in­hibitor Lyn­parza has carved it­self a niche in Eu­rope.

Five months af­ter get­ting a speedy ap­proval from the US reg­u­la­tor for front­line main­te­nance treat­ment for BR­CA-mu­tat­ed ovar­i­an can­cer, the EU has fol­lowed suit, mark­ing the first PARP in­hibitor to win ap­proval for the in­di­ca­tion in the re­gion.

The ap­proval is based on re­sults from a 391-pa­tient study un­veiled in Oc­to­ber, which test­ed Lyn­parza against a place­bo in pa­tients giv­en plat­inum-based chemother­a­py. Da­ta showed that 40.7 months of fol­low-up showed the me­di­an time of pro­gres­sion for pa­tients treat­ed with Lyn­parza had not yet been reached ver­sus 13.8 months for those on place­bo.

Drug­mak­ers sue HHS for try­ing to add prices to DTC ads

Am­gen, Mer­ck, Eli Lil­ly and the As­so­ci­a­tion of Na­tion­al Ad­ver­tis­ers on Fri­day sued the De­part­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices (HHS) be­cause of a rule­mak­ing that would re­quire phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal list prices to be shown in di­rect-to-con­sumer (DTC) drug ad­ver­tise­ments on tele­vi­sion.

The rule, which was fi­nal­ized in May and is set to take ef­fect in Ju­ly, re­quires that tele­vi­sion ad­ver­tise­ments for pre­scrip­tion drugs or bi­o­log­i­cal prod­ucts with a list price of $35 or more con­tain a state­ment in­di­cat­ing the Whole­sale Ac­qui­si­tion Cost (al­so re­ferred to as WAC or the list price) for a typ­i­cal 30-day reg­i­men or for a typ­i­cal course of treat­ment.

Gene ther­a­pies seize the top of the list of the most ex­pen­sive drugs on the plan­et — and that trend has just be­gun

Anyone looking for a few simple reasons why the gene therapy field has caught fire with the pharma giants need only look at the new list of the 10 most expensive therapies from GoodRx.

Two recently approved gene therapies sit atop this list, with Novartis’ Zolgensma crowned the king of the priciest drugs at $2.1 million. Right below is Luxturna, the $850,000 pioneer from Spark, which Roche is pushing hard to acquire as it adds a gene therapy group to the global mix.

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J&J gains an en­thu­si­as­tic en­dorse­ment from Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump for their big new drug Spra­va­to

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has lit­tle love for Big Phar­ma, but there’s at least one new drug that just hit the mar­ket which he is en­am­ored with.

Trump, ev­i­dent­ly, has been read­ing up on J&J’s new an­ti-de­pres­sion drug, Spra­va­to. And the pres­i­dent — who of­ten likes to break out in­to a full-throat­ed at­tack on greedy drug­mak­ers — ap­par­ent­ly en­thused about the ther­a­py in a meet­ing with of­fi­cials of Vet­er­ans Af­fairs, which has long grap­pled with de­pres­sion among vet­er­ans.

An in­censed Cat­a­lyst Phar­ma sues the FDA, ac­cus­ing agency of bow­ing to po­lit­i­cal pres­sure and break­ing fed­er­al law

Af­ter hint­ing it was ex­plor­ing the le­gal­i­ty of the FDA’s ap­proval of a ri­val drug from fam­i­ly-run com­pa­ny Ja­cobus Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, Cat­a­lyst Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals on Wednes­day filed a law­suit against the health reg­u­la­tor — ef­fec­tive­ly ac­cus­ing the agency of bow­ing to po­lit­i­cal pres­sure sur­round­ing sky­rock­et­ing drug prices.

Be­fore Cat­a­lyst’s Fir­dapse (which car­ries an av­er­age an­nu­al list price of $375,000) was sanc­tioned for use in Lam­bert-Eaton myas­thenic syn­drome (LEMS) by the FDA, hun­dreds of pa­tients had been able to ac­cess a sim­i­lar drug from com­pound­ing phar­ma­cies for a frac­tion of the cost, or Ja­cobus’ for free, as part of an FDA-rat­i­fied com­pas­sion­ate use pro­gram. But the ap­proval of the Cat­a­lyst drug — ac­com­pa­nied by mar­ket ex­clu­siv­i­ty span­ning sev­en years — ef­fec­tive­ly pre­clud­ed Ja­cobus and com­pound­ing phar­ma­cies from sell­ing their ver­sions.

Plagued by de­lays, As­traZeneca HQ costs soar to £750M as it edges to­ward 2020 com­ple­tion

In the lat­est up­date on As­traZeneca’s de­lay-prone HQ project, the phar­ma gi­ant re­vealed that the cost of con­struc­tion has swelled to £750 mil­lion ($956 mil­lion) — more than dou­ble the orig­i­nal es­ti­mate in 2013.

The move-in date is still in 2020, a spokesper­son con­firmed, af­ter As­traZeneca pushed pro­ject­ed com­ple­tion from 2016 to 2017, and then to the spring of 2019. While the ini­tial plan called for a £330 mil­lion (then $500 mil­lion) in­vest­ment, the cost bal­looned to £500 mil­lion ($650 mil­lion), and more in the most re­cent up­date.