No­van’s shares in melt­down fol­low­ing "dis­cor­dant" PhI­II stud­ies of a new ac­ne drug

Nathan Stasko, No­van

Of­fi­cial­ly, No­van $NOVN put out some mixed da­ta from two Phase III stud­ies of their lead drug for ac­ne, with one suc­cess and one fail­ure. But even the pos­i­tive da­ta from one tri­al failed to stand out from the con­trol arm in a ma­jor way, putting this com­pa­ny un­der a cloud.

Its stock plunged 80% this morn­ing.

On the up side, in­ves­ti­ga­tors say that SB204 hit all three co-pri­ma­ry end­points for NI-AC302, with sig­nif­i­cant – though far from im­pres­sive – re­sults for re­duc­ing the num­ber of le­sions and ac­ne clear­ance. Here are the num­bers, for both stud­ies:

•The ab­solute change from base­line in the num­ber of non-in­flam­ma­to­ry le­sions in NI-AC301 was -15.4 for SB204 and -13.4 for ve­hi­cle (p=0.030), and in NI-AC302 was -14.9 for SB204 and -12.3 for ve­hi­cle (p=0.001).

•The ab­solute change from base­line in the num­ber of in­flam­ma­to­ry le­sions in NI-AC301 was -12.1 for SB204 and -11.1 for ve­hi­cle (p=0.114), and in NI-AC302 was -12.9 for SB204 and -10.6 for ve­hi­cle (p<0.001).

•The pro­por­tion of pa­tients with IGA suc­cess in NI-AC301 was 13.4% for SB204 and 13.8% for ve­hi­cle (p=0.866), and in NI-AC302 was 18.9% for SB204 and 14.3% for ve­hi­cle (p=0.032).

A to­tal of 2,639 pa­tients ages 9 and old­er with mod­er­ate to se­vere ac­ne were en­rolled across a to­tal of 110 sites in the Unit­ed States.

The sec­ondary end­points looked quite sim­i­lar, leav­ing Mor­risville, NC-based No­van count­ing its cash. There’s enough mon­ey on hand to make it through the end of the year, when it’s hop­ing to have some bet­ter da­ta from an up­com­ing read­out on an an­ti-fun­gal pro­gram.

No­van raised $45 mil­lion with its IPO last fall, ear­mark­ing the mon­ey for an NDA for this drug, which it billed as the first new chem­i­cal en­ti­ty to come along for ac­ne in 20 years. Those plans may well have to change now. The biotech end­ed the day yes­ter­day with a mar­ket cap of $298 mil­lion.

“While we are pleased with the re­sults of the NI-AC302 tri­al that met the reg­u­la­to­ry re­quire­ment for sta­tis­ti­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant ef­fi­ca­cy of SB204, we are dis­ap­point­ed with the dis­cor­dant re­sults of NI-AC301. Our team has not yet re­ceived the full da­ta set and we in­tend to pro­vide an up­date on the SB204 pro­gram af­ter our com­plete analy­sis,” said Nathan Stasko, PhD, Pres­i­dent and CEO of No­van. “De­spite these dis­cor­dant re­sults, we be­lieve in the po­ten­tial of ni­tric ox­ide’s mul­ti­ple, well-doc­u­ment­ed mech­a­nisms of ac­tion and the da­ta we have re­cent­ly gen­er­at­ed for our SB206 an­ti-vi­ral and SB414 an­ti-in­flam­ma­to­ry prod­uct can­di­dates. We con­tin­ue to look for­ward to near term clin­i­cal re­sults from our SB208 an­ti-fun­gal pro­gram in the sec­ond quar­ter of 2017 and ad­vanc­ing our pipeline of in­no­v­a­tive ther­a­pies for pa­tients suf­fer­ing from skin dis­eases.”

Mi­no­ryx and Sper­o­genix ink an ex­clu­sive li­cense agree­ment to de­vel­op and com­mer­cial­ize lerigli­ta­zone in Chi­na

September 23, 2020 – Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai (China) and Mataró, Barcelona (Spain)  

Minoryx will receive an upfront and milestone payments of up to $78 million, as well as double digit royalties on annual net sales 

Sperogenix will receive exclusive rights to develop and commercialize leriglitazone for the treatment of X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD), a rare life-threatening neurological condition

PhII Alzheimer's fail­ure deals new blow to Roche, AC Im­mune — but the tau hy­poth­e­sis is far from dead

The leading anti-tau antibody has failed its first Phase II testing, casting a shadow on a popular target (just trailing amyloid beta) for Alzheimer’s disease.

Roche and AC Immune are quick to acknowledge disappointment in the topline readout, which suggested that semorinemab did not reduce cognitive decline among patients with early Alzheimer’s disease, who are either just starting to have symptoms or have mild manifestations.

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FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn at the White House (AP Images)

Un­der fire, FDA to is­sue stricter guid­ance for Covid-19 vac­cine EUA this week — re­port

The FDA has been insisting for months that a Covid-19 vaccine had to be at least 50% effective – a measure of transparency meant to shore public trust in the agency and in a vaccine that had been brought forward at record speed and record political pressure. But now, with concerns of a Trump-driven authorization arriving before the election, the agency may be raising the bar.

The FDA is set to release new guidance that would raise safety and efficacy requirements for a vaccine EUA above earlier guidance and above the criteria used for convalescent plasma or hydroxychloroquine, The Washington Post reported. Experts say this significantly lowers the odds of an approval before the election on November 3, which Trump has promised despite vocal concerns from public health officials, and could help shore up public trust in the agency and any eventual vaccine.

Covid-19 roundup: J&J be­gins piv­otal Phase III tri­al for vac­cine; Con­tro­ver­sial hu­man chal­lenge tri­als to be­gin in Lon­don — re­port

Johnson & Johnson announced it’s beginning a pivotal Phase III trial for its Covid-19 candidate, JNJ-78436735 — the first single-dose vaccine in this stage.

The Phase III trial, dubbed ENSEMBLE, will enroll 60,000 patients worldwide, making it the largest Phase III study of a Covid-19 vaccine to date. J&J said the candidate achieved positive interim results in a Phase I/IIa study, which will be published “imminently.” There’s a possibility that the first batches will be ready for potential emergency use in early 2021, according to the biotech.

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Secretary of health and human services Alex Azar speaking in the Rose Garden at the White House (Photo: AFP)

Trump’s HHS claims ab­solute au­thor­i­ty over the FDA, clear­ing path to a vac­cine EUA

The top career staff at the FDA has vowed not to let politics overrule science when looking at vaccine data this fall. But Alex Azar, who happens to be their boss’s boss, apparently won’t even give them a chance to stand in the way.

In a new memorandum issued Tuesday last week, the HHS chief stripped the FDA and other health agencies under his purview of their rule making ability, asserting all such power “is reserved to the Secretary.” Sheila Kaplan of the New York Times first obtained and reported the details of the September 15 bulletin.

Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) (Tasos Katopodis/Pool via AP Images)

The mi­cro-cap that tapped a mask-skep­tic con­gress­man for their Covid DSMB is ap­ply­ing for an EUA. Their ev­i­dence? 21 pa­tients

NeuroRx, the tiny biotech that came under fire last week after Politico reported they selected a congressman and two other acquaintances of the CEO to supervise their Covid-19 drug trial, announced today that they will ask the FDA to authorize their drug based on the results of just 21 patients.

Such an application would test the agency’s standards of evidence for an EUA, which have already come under scrutiny after controversial authorizations for convalescent plasma and hydroxychloroquine. The only other company to announce their intention to file for an EUA, Eli Lilly, did so after results came back from a randomized control study testing their antibody in over 450 patients.

J&J re­leas­es PhI­II safe­ty blue­print for Covid-19 vac­cine tri­al. How does it stack up to Mod­er­na, Pfiz­er and As­traZeneca?

Along with the initiation of its Phase III Covid-19 vaccine study announced Wednesday morning, Johnson & Johnson also released its trial protocol, giving an inside look at how the company is conducting its late-stage research.

The move comes after the other three companies conducting Phase III’s in the US — Moderna, Pfizer and AstraZeneca — each disclosed their own trial blueprints within the last week. Though the release of such protocols is typically done after trials have been completed, drug developers had come under intense pressure after a brief safety scare in an AstraZeneca trial and amid growing concern of a politically motivated vaccine authorization.

Vas Narasimhan (AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Still held down by clin­i­cal hold, No­var­tis' Zol­gens­ma falls fur­ther be­hind Bio­gen and Roche as FDA asks for a new piv­otal study

Last October, the FDA slowed down Novartis’ quest to extend its gene therapy to older spinal muscular atrophy patients by slapping a partial hold on intrathecal administration. Almost a year later, the hold is still there, and regulators are adding another hurdle required for regulatory submission: a new pivotal confirmatory study.

The new requirement — which departs significantly from Novartis’ prior expectations — will likely stretch the path to registration beyond 2021, when analysts were expecting a BLA submission. That could mean more time for Biogen to reap Spinraza revenues and Roche to ramp up sales of Evrysdi in the absence of a rival.

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Patrick Enright, Longitude co-founder (Longitude)

As its biotechs hit the pan­dem­ic ex­it, Lon­gi­tude rais­es $585M for new neu­ro, can­cer, ag­ing and or­phan-fo­cused fund

The years have been kind to Longitude Capital. This year, too.

A 2006 spinout of Pequot Capital, its founders started their new firm just four years before the parent company would go under amid insider trading allegations. Their first life sciences fund raised $325 million amid the financial crisis, they added a second for $385 million and then in, 2016, a third for $525 million. In the last few months, the pandemic biotech IPO boom netted several high-value exits from those funds, as Checkmate, Vaxcyte, Inozyme and Poseida all went public.

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