EMA en­dors­es Teva's mi­graine drug; Dis­as­ter prone CTI Bio­Phar­ma re­scinds EU ap­pli­ca­tion for pa­cri­tinib

→ The EMA was busy on Fri­day. The Eu­ro­pean drug reg­u­la­tor, which is cur­rent­ly in the process of shift­ing its head­quar­ters to Am­s­ter­dam from Lon­don, rec­om­mend­ed the ap­proval of Te­va’s mi­graine-pre­ven­tion drug, Ajovy. A fi­nal de­ci­sion is ex­pect­ed in the first half of this year, and if ap­proved the treat­ment drug will be the first and on­ly an­ti-CGRP med­i­cine in the EU with both quar­ter­ly and month­ly dos­ing op­tions, the Is­raeli drug­mak­er said. CTI Bio­Phar­ma, how­ev­er, had bad news to re­port on the Eu­ro­pean front for its myelofi­bro­sis drug pa­cri­tinib. The no­to­ri­ous­ly fail­ure-prone drug de­vel­op­er an­nounced it was with­draw­ing an ap­pli­ca­tion to mar­ket the drug in the EU, fol­low­ing dis­cus­sions with the EMA. Last year, Shire backed away from a part­ner­ship with the ill-fat­ed com­pa­ny, fol­low­ing a mixed da­ta read­out from a piv­otal study that was pre­vi­ous­ly put on a full clin­i­cal hold — un­der the be­hest of the FDA — af­ter the death of sev­er­al pa­tients. The com­pa­ny’s shares $CTIC tum­bled more than 15% in ear­ly Fri­day trad­ing.

→ Sep­a­rate­ly on Fri­day, the EMA al­so laid out guid­ance to help bio­phar­ma com­pa­nies pre­pare for Brex­it, so as to en­sure sup­ply is not dis­rupt­ed — on the as­sump­tion the UK will be­come a third coun­try as of 30 March 2019. For pre-sub­mis­sion meet­ings re­gard­ing hu­man and an­i­mal drugs re­quest­ed from last Oc­to­ber, the EMA will en­gage with man­u­fac­tur­ers via tele­con­fer­ence or vir­tu­al meet­ings. Be­tween 11 Feb­ru­ary and 15 March 2019, no such meet­ings for ini­tial mar­ket­ing au­tho­ri­sa­tion ap­pli­ca­tions will take place, while the EMA moves to its new home in Am­s­ter­dam, it said.

→ On Thurs­day at a par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee meet­ing, UK health and so­cial care sec­re­tary Matt Han­cock said the British gov­ern­ment was pri­or­i­tiz­ing med­i­cines over food if a no-deal Brex­it would make it tricky to im­port prod­ucts in ei­ther cat­e­go­ry of goods. Last year, Han­cock  asked drug sup­pli­ers to keep six weeks worth of med­i­cines stock­piled in ad­di­tion to their buffer stocks and last month the UK’s Med­i­cines and Health­care prod­ucts Reg­u­la­to­ry Agency (MHRA) said that in the event of a no-deal, the UK would be no longer be part of the EMA um­brel­la, and that reg­u­la­to­ry sub­mis­sions for drugs would be made di­rect­ly to the MHRA.

UP­DAT­ED: Mer­ck pulls Keytru­da in SCLC af­ter ac­cel­er­at­ed nod. Is the FDA get­ting tough on drug­mak­ers that don't hit their marks?

In what could be an early shot in the battle against drugmakers that whiff on confirmatory studies to support accelerated approvals, the FDA ordered Bristol Myers Squibb late last year to give up Opdivo’s approval in SCLC. Now, Merck is next on the firing line — are we seeing the FDA buckling down on post-marketing offenders?

Merck has withdrawn its marketing approval for PD-(L)1 inhibitor Keytruda in metastatic small cell lung cancer as part of what it describes as an “industry-wide evaluation” by the FDA of drugs that do not meet the post-marketing checkpoints on which their accelerated nods were based, the company said Monday.

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Bob Nelsen (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images)

With stars aligned and cash in re­serve, Bob Nelsen's Re­silience plans a makeover at 2 new fa­cil­i­ty ad­di­tions to its drug man­u­fac­tur­ing up­start

Bob Nelsen’s new, state-of-the-art drug manufacturing initiative is taking shape.

Just 3 months after gathering $800 million of launch money, a dream team board and a plan to shake up a field where he found too many bottlenecks and inefficiencies for the era of Covid-19, Resilience has snapped up a pair of facilities now in line for a retooling.

The company has acquired a 310,000-square-foot plant in Boston from Sanofi along with a 136,000-square-foot plant in Ontario to add to a network which CEO Rahul Singhvi says is just getting started on building his company’s operations up. The Sanofi deal comes with a contract to continue manufacturing one of its drugs.

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Mesoblast gets a $110M life­line from Surg­Cen­ter De­vel­op­ment; uniQure still un­sure if gene ther­a­py spurred can­cer event

Mesoblast faced rough waters in 2020, but on Monday were thrown a financial lifeline.

The Australian stem cell therapy player has raised $110 million in a private placement, the company announced, offering 60 million shares to the US investor group SurgCenter Development. SurgCenter received the shares at a 6.5% discount from Mesoblast’s closing price on Feb. 25.

Mesoblast plans to use the funds to boost supply of its lead candidate remestemcel-L ahead of what they hope is a potential approval in pediatric GvHD when they return to the FDA, as well as advancing manufacturing and development of their rexlemestrocel-L platform for chronic heart failure and chronic low back pain.

Af­ter bail­ing on Covid-19 vac­cines, Mer­ck will team up with J&J to pro­duce its shot as part of un­usu­al Big Phar­ma pact

Merck took a big gamble when it opted to jump into the Covid-19 vaccine race late, and made an equally momentous decision to back out in late January. Now, looking to chip in on the effort, Merck reportedly agreed to team up with one of the companies that has already crossed the finish line.

President Joe Biden on Tuesday is expected to announce a partnership between drugmakers Merck and Johnson & Johnson to jointly produce J&J’s recombinant protein Covid-19 vaccine that received the FDA’s emergency use authorization Saturday, the Washington Post reported.

Ab­b­Vie tees up a biotech buy­out af­ter siz­ing up their Parkin­son's drug spun out of Ke­van Shokat's lab

AbbVie has teed up a small but intriguing biotech buyout after looking over the preclinical work it’s been doing in Parkinson’s disease.

The company is called Mitokinin, a Bay Area biotech spun out of the lab of UCSF’s Kevan Shokat, whose scientific explorations have formed the academic basis of a slew of startups in the biotech hub. One of Shokat’s PhD students in the lab, Nicholas Hertz, co-founded Mitokinin using their lab work on PINK1 suggesting that amping up its activity could play an important role in regulating the mitochondrial dysfunction contributing to Parkinson’s disease pathogenesis and progression.

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Paul Sekhri

The next big biotech su­per­star? Paul Sekhri has some thoughts on that

It occasionally occurs to Paul Sekhri that if they pull this off, his company will be on the front page of the New York Times and a lead story in just about every major news outlet on the planet. He tries not to dwell on it, though.

“I just want to be laser-focused on getting to that point,” Sekhri says, before acknowledging, “Yes, it absolutely crossed my mind.”

Sekhri, a longtime biopharma executive with tenures at Sanofi and Novartis, is now entering year three as CEO of eGenesis, the biotech that George Church protégé Luhan Yang founded to genetically alter pigs so that they can be used for organ transplants. He led them through one megaround and has just closed another, raising $125 million from 17 different investors to push the first-ever (humanized) pig to human transplants into the clinic.

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Fi­bro­Gen shares skid low­er as a sur­prise ad­comm rais­es risks on roxa OK

FibroGen will likely have to delay its US rollout for roxadustat once again.

In an unexpected move, the FDA is convening its Cardiovascular and Renal Drugs Advisory Committee to review the NDA in an advisory committee meeting. The date is yet to be confirmed.

Just a few weeks ago, SVB Leerink analyst Geoffrey Porges predicted that the roxa approval could come ahead of the PDUFA date on March 20 — effusive despite already being let down once by the FDA’s extension of its review back in December. AstraZeneca, which is partnered with FibroGen on the chronic kidney disease-related anemia drug, disclosed regulators had requested further clarifying analyses of clinical data.

In­tro­duc­ing End­pointsF­DA+, our new pre­mi­um week­ly reg­u­la­to­ry news re­port led by Zachary Bren­nan

CRLs. 483s. CBER, CDER and RWE. For biopharma professionals, these acronyms command attention because of the fundamental role FDA plays in drug development. Now Endpoints is doubling down on regulatory coverage, and launching a weekly report focusing on developments out of White Oak, with analysis and insight into what it all means.

Coverage will be led by our new senior editor, Zachary Brennan. He joins Endpoints from POLITICO, where he covered pharma. Prior to that he was the managing editor for Regulatory Focus, a news publication from the Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society.

UP­DAT­ED: Feds clear the road for J&J to start de­liv­er­ing mil­lions of dos­es of their Covid-19 vac­cine — but frets linger about run­ner-up sta­tus

All the pieces needed to trigger a third wave of Covid-19 vaccine supply to start washing over the US fell neatly into place over the weekend.

After providing for a brief mime of regulatory judiciousness, the FDA stamped their emergency approval on J&J’s Covid-19 vaccine Saturday, adding to the Biden administration’s plan aimed at ending the pandemic in the near term — at least in the US. The CDC came through on Sunday with its stamp of approval and J&J is reportedly expected to start delivering vaccine sometime in the next few days.

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