FDA+ roundup: ALS bill would pro­vide $100M an­nu­al­ly to ac­cess po­ten­tial drugs; FDA needs to bet­ter en­force Clin­i­cal­Tri­als.gov re­port­ing, re­searchers say

The House En­er­gy & Com­merce Com­mit­tee be­gan mark­ing up a dozen bills on Wednes­day morn­ing in­clud­ing one that would re­quire the FDA to craft a five-year ac­tion plan for fos­ter­ing the de­vel­op­ment of drugs that im­prove or ex­tend the lives of peo­ple liv­ing with rare neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­eases.

Rare neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­eases, like amy­otroph­ic lat­er­al scle­ro­sis or ALS, have been his­tor­i­cal­ly very dif­fi­cult to treat. But this bi­par­ti­san bill, in­tro­duced by Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL), will pro­vide $100 mil­lion for each of fis­cal years 2022 through 2026 to help HHS award grants to fa­cil­i­tate ac­cess to in­ves­ti­ga­tion­al drugs that di­ag­nose or treat ALS.

The FDA will award grants to pub­lic and pri­vate en­ti­ties to cov­er the costs of R&D for drugs that di­ag­nose or treat ALS and oth­er se­vere­ly de­bil­i­tat­ing neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­eases, the bill text says.

In ad­di­tion, HHS would have to es­tab­lish the Pub­lic-Pri­vate Part­ner­ship for Neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive Dis­eases be­tween the NIH, FDA, and at least one el­i­gi­ble en­ti­ty (gen­er­al­ly, an in­sti­tu­tion of high­er ed­u­ca­tion or a non­prof­it or­ga­ni­za­tion). The bill, first in­tro­duced last sum­mer, al­so has a com­pan­ion bill in the Sen­ate, in­tro­duced by Chris Coons (D-DE).

FDA needs to bet­ter en­force Clin­i­cal­Tri­als.gov re­port­ing, Yale re­searchers write in JA­MA

De­spite clear in­struc­tions on how and when to re­port clin­i­cal tri­al re­sults, about 60% of tri­als fail to re­port re­sults on time and more than 30% (among al­most 3000 clin­i­cal tri­als with pri­ma­ry com­ple­tion dates be­tween Jan. 2017, and Jan. 2021) have not yet re­port­ed re­sults. That lack of re­port­ing means the FDA needs to beef up its en­force­ment ef­forts, re­searchers from Yale wrote re­cent­ly in a JA­MA view­point.

For its part, the FDA iden­ti­fies po­ten­tial vi­o­la­tions of the law gov­ern­ing the re­port­ing of the re­sults through in­ves­ti­ga­tions and third-par­ty com­plaints, and then at its dis­cre­tion, may is­sue a Pre­lim­i­nary No­tice of Non­com­pli­ance in­form­ing re­spon­si­ble par­ties of po­ten­tial vi­o­la­tions.

Yale re­searchers used FOIA to find that the FDA has on­ly is­sued 58 of its pre­lim­i­nary no­tices of non­com­pli­ance from 2013 through April 29, which they said is “a tiny frac­tion of the thou­sands of FDAAA-ap­plic­a­ble clin­i­cal tri­als iden­ti­fied as non­com­pli­ant with re­sults in­for­ma­tion re­port­ing re­quire­ments as of Jan­u­ary 2021.”

So how can the FDA help? The re­searchers say that in­stead of re­ly­ing on in­con­sis­tent BI­MO in­ves­ti­ga­tions and third-par­ty com­plaints to iden­ti­fy non­com­pli­ant tri­als, the FDA could in­stead use a con­tin­u­al­ly up­dat­ed list of FDAAA 801 prob­lems main­tained by the NIH. In ad­di­tion, FDA should pub­li­cize the no­tices more fre­quent­ly and en­sure that they present clear time­lines for fur­ther en­force­ment ac­tions if re­sults re­main un­re­port­ed.

“The FDA can and should har­ness its en­force­ment tools to en­sure time­ly sub­mis­sion of tri­al re­sults in­for­ma­tion to Clin­i­cal­Tri­als.gov. By do­ing so, the FDA could bring im­por­tant miss­ing re­sults to light and demon­strate its com­mit­ment to pro­tect­ing pa­tients through clin­i­cal tri­al trans­paren­cy,” they wrote.

Re­gen­eron and No­var­tis seek tweaks to ICH’s S12 guid­ance for gene ther­a­pies

No­var­tis, Re­gen­eron and oth­ers are sug­gest­ing tweaks in re­cent­ly re­leased com­ments on a re­cent guid­ance from ICH, known as S12, which deals with the non­clin­i­cal biodis­tri­b­u­tion con­sid­er­a­tions for gene ther­a­pies.

No­var­tis, for in­stance, took is­sue with the fact that vi­ral shed­ding is list­ed as “out of scope” from the S12 guid­ance.

“We be­lieve that it is a missed op­por­tu­ni­ty in not in­clud­ing this top­ic, par­tic­u­lar­ly as some would con­sid­er shed­ding as part of the ‘dis­tri­b­u­tion’ of a gene ther­a­py vec­tor. In ad­di­tion, there ex­ists sig­nif­i­cant health au­thor­i­ty di­ver­gence in opin­ion with re­spect to whether shed­ding should be as­sessed in non­clin­i­cal stud­ies. Please con­sid­er adding shed­ding with­in this guid­ance,” Tim­o­thy MacLach­lan, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of pre-clin­i­cal safe­ty, and Jes­si­ca Riz­zo, reg­u­la­to­ry pol­i­cy man­ag­er, wrote.

And while the guid­ance sug­gests that non­clin­i­cal BD should be as­sessed pri­or to the ini­ti­a­tion of a clin­i­cal tri­al, No­var­tis won­ders what to do in a sit­u­a­tion where a spon­sor is at­tempt­ing to open an IND with an in­ter­im look on a much longer-term an­i­mal study, where spon­sors would get ad­di­tion­al in­for­ma­tion for the clin­i­cal tri­al from that an­i­mal study.

Re­gen­eron, mean­while, is seek­ing clar­i­ty on the ICH rec­om­men­da­tion for sam­ple col­lec­tion of a core pan­el of tis­sues/bioflu­ids. The New York biotech added:

The guid­ance could be read as rec­om­mend­ing that all of the list­ed tis­sue sam­ples should be col­lect­ed. In­stead, Re­gen­eron pro­pos­es that the guid­ance should rec­om­mend a risk-based ap­proach to guide which sam­ples should be col­lect­ed along with ap­pro­pri­ate jus­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­vid­ed by the de­vel­op­er, based on knowl­edge of the gene ther­a­py prod­uct and its tar­get(s). The same risk-based ap­proach could be used to de­ter­mine which of the col­lect­ed tis­sues would be an­a­lyzed. Do­ing so would al­low de­vel­op­ers to iden­ti­fy those sam­ple tis­sues that can pro­vide ear­ly sci­en­tif­ic ev­i­dence that could in­form fu­ture in-hu­man tri­als.

FDA must prompt­ly pun­ish Min­neso­ta Hos­pi­tal re­searchers, Pub­lic Cit­i­zen says

Pub­lic Cit­i­zen, a non­prof­it con­sumer ad­vo­ca­cy or­ga­ni­za­tion, filed a cit­i­zen pe­ti­tion on Wednes­day with the FDA, call­ing on the agency to take swift en­force­ment ac­tion against sev­er­al Min­neso­ta doc­tors cit­ed in re­cent warn­ing let­ters who con­duct­ed clin­i­cal re­search of dan­ger­ous drugs with­out the prop­er au­tho­riza­tions in place.

Ac­cord­ing to a warn­ing let­ter sent by FDA in Oc­to­ber, doc­tors nev­er filed the ap­pro­pri­ate INDs for the ke­t­a­mine tri­als with the FDA, as re­quired by law, and didn’t write ap­pro­pri­ate pro­to­cols to en­sure that chil­dren and preg­nant women weren’t en­rolled. The tri­als al­so didn’t ex­clude those who were un­der the in­flu­ence of in­tox­i­cants, in whom the use of ke­t­a­mine is cau­tioned.

“A slap-on-the-wrist ap­proach for such non­com­pli­ance that sig­nif­i­cant­ly vi­o­lat­ed the rights of more than 1,700 vul­ner­a­ble hu­man sub­jects and en­dan­gered the health of safe­ty of many of these sub­jects will not suf­fice,” Pub­lic Cit­i­zen wrote.

A new era of treat­ment: How bio­mark­ers are chang­ing the way we think about can­cer

AJ Patel was recovering from a complicated brain surgery when his oncologist burst into the hospital room yelling, “I’ve got some really great news for you!”

For two years, Patel had been going from doctor to doctor trying to diagnose his wheezing, only to be dealt the devastating news that he had stage IV lung cancer and only six months to live. And then they found the brain tumors.

“What are you talking about?” Patel asked. He had never seen an oncologist so happy.

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ProFound Therapeutics founding team

Flag­ship's lat­est biotech could turn some of the thou­sands of new pro­teins it dis­cov­ered in­to ther­a­pies — and it has $75M to start

Flagship Pioneering, the incubator of Moderna and dozens of other biotechs, says it has landed upon tens of thousands of previously undiscovered human proteins. The VC shop wants to potentially turn them into therapeutics.

Like other drug developers that have turned proteins into therapeutics (think insulin for diabetes), Flagship’s latest creation, ProFound Therapeutics, wants to tap into this new trove of proteins as part of its mission to treat indications ranging from rare diseases to cancer to immunological diseases.

FDA spells out the rules and re­stric­tions for states seek­ing to im­port drugs from Cana­da

The FDA is offering more of an explanation of the guardrails around its program that may soon allow states to import prescription drugs in some select circumstances from Canada, but only if such imports will result in significant cost reductions for consumers.

While the agency has yet to sign off on any of the 5 state plans in the works so far, and PhRMA’s suit to block the Trump-era rule allowing such imports is stalled, the new Q&A guidance spells out the various restrictions that states will have to abide by, potentially signaling that a state approval is coming.

Richard Silverman, Akava Therapeutics founder and Northwestern professor

This time around, Lyri­ca's in­ven­tor is de­vel­op­ing his North­west­ern dis­cov­er­ies at his own biotech

Richard Silverman was left in the dark for the last five years of clinical development of the drug he discovered. The Northwestern University professor found out about the first approval of Lyrica, in the last few days of 2004, like most other people: in the newspaper.

What became one of Pfizer’s top-selling meds, at $5 billion in 2017 global sales before losing patent protection in 2019, started slipping out of his hands when Northwestern licensed it out to Parke-Davis, one of two biotechs that showed interest in developing the drug in the pre-email days, when the university’s two-person tech transfer team had to ship out letters to garner industry appetite.

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Mihael Polymeropoulos, Vanda Pharmaceuticals CEO

Phar­ma com­pa­ny con­tin­ues its FDA law­suit spree, this time af­ter agency de­nies fast-track des­ig­na­tion

Vanda Pharmaceuticals is making a name for itself, at least in terms of suing the FDA.

The DC-headquartered firm on Monday filed its latest suit against the agency, with the company raising concerns over the FDA’s failure to grant a fast track designation for Vanda’s potential chronic digestive disorder drug tradipitant, which is a neurokinin 1 receptor antagonist.

Specifically, Vanda said FDA’s “essential point” in its one-page denial letter on the designation pointed to “the lack of necessary safety data,” which was “inconsistent with the criteria for … Fast Track designation.”

Robert Califf (Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA via AP Images)

House Re­pub­li­cans at­tack Chi­na-on­ly da­ta in FDA sub­mis­sions, seek new in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­to re­search in­spec­tions

Three Republican representatives are calling on the FDA to take a closer look at the applications including only clinical data from China.

The letter to FDA commissioner Rob Califf late last week comes as the agency recently rejected Eli Lilly’s anti-PD-1 antibody, which attempted to bring China-only data but ran into a bruising adcomm that may crush the hopes of any other companies looking to bring cheaper follow-ons based only on Chinese data.

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David Ricks, Eli Lilly CEO (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Eli Lil­ly set to in­vest $2.1B in home state man­u­fac­tur­ing boost

Eli Lilly is looking to expand its footprint in its home Hoosier State by making a major investment in manufacturing.

The pharma is investing $2.1 billion in two new manufacturing sites at Indiana’s LEAP Lebanon Innovation and Research District in Boone County, northwest of Lilly’s headquarters in Indianapolis.

The two new facilities will expand Lilly’s manufacturing network for active ingredients and new therapeutic modalities, including genetic medicines, according to a press release.

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Up­dat­ed: US sees spike in Paxlovid us­age as Mer­ck­'s mol­nupi­ravir and As­traZeneca's Evusheld are slow­er off the shelf

New data from HHS show that more than 162,000 courses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 antiviral Paxlovid were administered across the US over the past week, continuing a streak of increased usage of the pill, and signaling not only rising case numbers but more awareness of how to access it.

In comparison to this week, about 670,000 courses of the Pfizer pill have been administered across the first five months since Paxlovid has been on the US market, averaging about 33,000 courses administered per week in that time.

Pfiz­er and CD­MOs ramp up Paxlovid man­u­fac­tur­ing with Kala­ma­zoo plant ex­pan­sion lead­ing the way

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to evolve, pharma companies and manufacturers are exploring how to step up production on antivirals.

Pfizer is planning to expand its Kalamazoo-area facility to increase manufacturing capabilities for the oral Covid-19 antiviral Paxlovid, according to a report from Michigan-based news site MLive. The expansion of the facility, which serves as Pfizer’s largest manufacturing location, is expected to create hundreds of “high-skilled” STEM jobs, MLive reported. No details about the project’s cost and timeline have been released, but according to MLive, Pfizer will announce the details of the expansion at some point in early June.

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