Eye­ing stan­dard of care sta­tus in 3rd-line TNBC, Gilead nails down full OK for Trodelvy with a slight­ly broad­er la­bel

Even as the FDA gets tough on drugs that miss their mark af­ter ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­provals, the agency is still quick to re­ward the ones that hit it.

Gilead is tout­ing one such case in Trodelvy, which clamped down a full OK just un­der one year af­ter it was ini­tial­ly cleared for use in triple-neg­a­tive breast can­cer. It’s al­so a broad­er ap­proval — ex­pand­ing the pa­tient pop­u­la­tion to in­clude those with un­re­sectable lo­cal­ly ad­vanced TNBC, not just metasta­t­ic cas­es. Pa­tients must have re­ceived two or more pri­or sys­temic ther­a­pies, at least one of them for metasta­t­ic dis­ease.

Im­munomedics, the biotech that had la­bored on the an­ti­body-drug con­ju­gate over a lengthy 37-year stretch, had out­lined the pro­gres­sion-free sur­vival and over­all sur­vival da­ta from the Phase III AS­CENT study short­ly af­ter the ini­tial ap­proval last April.

A look at the num­bers un­der the hood set off fren­zied ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween Gilead’s Dan O’Day and Im­munomedics’ Be­hzad Ag­haz­adeh, cul­mi­nat­ing in a $21 bil­lion buy­out an­nounced just ahead of ES­MO, where de­tailed re­sults were show­cased.

Ac­cord­ing to the fi­nal da­ta cut, Trodelvy re­duced the risk of death in TNBC pa­tients by 49%, with a me­di­an OS of 11.8 months, as op­posed to the 6.9 months achieved by stan­dard sin­gle-agent chemother­a­py. PFS came in at a me­di­an of 4.8 months, com­pared to 1.7 months on chemother­a­py (p<0.0001).

The full FDA en­dorse­ment now “po­si­tions sac­i­tuzum­ab govite­can-hziy as a po­ten­tial stan­dard of care for pre-treat­ed TNBC,” said prin­ci­pal in­ves­ti­ga­tor Aditya Bar­dia, re­fer­ring to the ex­per­i­men­tal name of the drug.

It al­so marks se­ri­ous val­i­da­tion of Ag­haz­adeh, the ven­Bio in­vestor who cam­paigned hard against sell­ing the drug to Seat­tle Ge­net­ics, wran­gled con­trol of the com­pa­ny from its founders, kept the faith through a burn­ing re­jec­tion and stepped in to make key de­ci­sions as ex­ec­u­tive chair­man through some CEO turnover.

One of the first mem­bers in a grow­ing class of drugs tar­get­ing the TROP2 re­cep­tor, Trodelvy is al­so be­ing test­ed in urothe­lial can­cer, non-small cell lung can­cer, head and neck can­cer, as well as en­dome­tri­al can­cer.

No­var­tis reshuf­fles its wild cards; Tough sell for Bio­gen? Googling pro­teins; Ken Fra­zier's new gig; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

If you enjoy the People section in this report, you may also want to check out Peer Review, my colleagues Alex Hoffman and Kathy Wong’s comprehensive compilation of comings and goings in biopharma.

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Demis Hassabis, DeepMind CEO (Qianlong/Imaginechina via AP Images)

Google's Deep­Mind opens its pro­tein data­base to sci­ence — po­ten­tial­ly crack­ing drug R&D wide open

Nearly a year ago, Google’s AI outfit DeepMind announced they had cracked one of the oldest problems in biology: predicting a protein’s structure from its sequence alone. Now they’ve turned that software on nearly every human protein and hundreds of thousands of additional proteins from organisms important to medical research, such as fruit flies, mice and malaria parasite.

The new database of roughly 350,000 protein sequences and structures represents a potentially monumental achievement for the life sciences, one that could hasten new biological insights and the development of new drugs. DeepMind said it will be free and accessible to all researchers and companies.

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In­side Bio­gen's scram­ble to sell Aduhelm: Pro­ject 'Javelin' and pres­sure to ID as many pa­tients as pos­si­ble

In anticipation of Aduhelm’s approval for Alzheimer’s in June, Biogen employees were directed to identify and guarantee treatment centers would administer the drug through a program called “Javelin,” a senior Biogen employee told Endpoints News.

The program identified about 800 centers for use, he said, and Biogen now pays for the use of bioassays to identify beta amyloid in potential patients having undergone a lumbar puncture procedure, the employee said — and one center preparing to administer the drug confirmed its participation in the bioassay program.

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EMA re­jects FDA-ap­proved Parkin­son's drug, signs off on Mod­er­na vac­cine use in ado­les­cents ahead of FDA

The European Medicines Agency on Friday rejected Kyowa Kirin’s Parkinson’s disease drug Nouryant (istradefylline), which the US FDA approved in 2019 under the brand name Nourianz.

EMA said it considered that the results of the clinical studies used to support the application “were inconsistent and did not satisfactorily show that Nouryant was effective at reducing the ‘off’ time. Only four out of the eight studies showed a reduction in ‘off’ time, and the effect did not increase with an increased dose of Nouryant.”

6 top drug­mak­ers of­fer per­spec­tives on FDA's new co­vari­ates in RCTs guid­ance

Back in May, the FDA revised and expanded a 2019 draft guidance that spells out how to adjust for covariates in the statistical analysis of randomized controlled trials.

Building on the ICH’s E9 guideline on the statistical principles for clinical trials, the 3-page draft was transformed into an 8-page draft, with more detailed recommendations on linear and nonlinear models to analyze the efficacy endpoints in RCTs.

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Vas Narasimhan, Novartis CEO (Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

No­var­tis dis­cards one of its ‘wild card’ drugs af­ter it flops in key study. But it takes one more for the hand

Always remember just how risky it is to gamble big on small studies.

A little more than 4 years ago, Novartis reportedly put up a package worth up to $1 billion for the dry eye drug ECF843 after a small biotech called Lubris put it through its paces in a tiny study of 40 moderate to severe patients, tracking some statistically significant markers of efficacy.

By last fall, the program had risen up to become one of CEO Vas Narasimhan’s top “wild card” programs in line for a potential breakthrough year in 2021. These drugs were all considered high-risk, high-reward efforts. And in this case, risk won.

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No­var­tis to pay near­ly $178M in law­suit over BRAF drug — and will be on the hook for roy­al­ty

After a four-year battle over a cancer drug patent, Novartis has been ordered by a California judge to pay a Daiichi Sankyo subsidiary $177.8 million.

Plexxikon filed a lawsuit against the pharma giant in 2017, alledging that Tafinlar, a rival to its melanoma drug Zelboraf that was brought to market in collaboration with Roche, has stepped on its intellectual property. The jury ruled in its favor, adding that the infringement is in fact willful.

Al Sandrock, Biogen R&D chief (Biogen via YouTube)

Bio­gen has a shaky end to H1 with a $542M write-off adding to its woes — but an­a­lysts see big rev­enue ahead for Aduhelm

All eyes at Biogen’s Q2 earnings call Thursday were on Aduhelm, but investors also got a glimpse of what Biogen would have faced had the FDA not opted to approve their controversial Alzheimer’s drug.

That glimpse, revealing a combination of declining sales, growing competition and failed medicines, underscores the stakes of the big biotech’s Aduhelm efforts, as execs punch back at the criticism they’ve engendered in the political and medical world and vigorously pushes its sales staff to roll out the drug as fast as possible.

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Michel Vounatsos, Biogen CEO (Credit: World Economic Forum/Valeriano Di Domenico)

Bio­gen de­fends slow roll­out of new Alzheimer's drug, crit­i­cizes neg­a­tive me­dia at­ten­tion

As Biogen execs bemoaned the negative media coverage around Aduhelm’s approval a month ago, the biotech isn’t gaining much traction yet in using its new drug, largely due to a lack of insurance coverage, according to an earnings call Thursday.

Management indicated that of the nearly 900 sites that were prepped and ready following Aduhelm’s approval, 325 of those, or about 35%, have completed a positive pharmacy and therapeutics (P&T) review or won’t require one. The review is a step some hospitals or health systems take prior to using a new drug. Some major sites, however, have said they won’t participate.