FDA snubs Sanofi, Lex­i­con on their pitch for SGLT1/2 di­a­betes drug so­tagliflozin, com­pa­nies mum on what went wrong

Sanofi’s shot at a last-place show­ing for its SGLT1/SGLT2 di­a­betes drug has end­ed in a painful prat­fall ahead of the fin­ish line. The phar­ma gi­ant and their part­ners at Lex­i­con $LXRX say that so­tagliflozin, a ma­jor play­er for their di­a­betes port­fo­lio, has been re­ject­ed by the FDA.

Lon­nel Coats, Lex­i­con

Their terse re­lease gave no ex­pla­na­tion for what went wrong, but an ex­pert pan­el pro­vid­ed a split vote on the mon­ey ques­tion re­gard­ing safe­ty and ef­fi­ca­cy, with in­sid­ers at the agency field­ing big con­cerns about ev­i­dence of di­a­bet­ic ke­toaci­do­sis.

In the US, the FDA is re­quired to stay silent on these CRLs, leav­ing it up to the com­pa­nies to say any­thing they like, or noth­ing at all. Lex­i­con is stay­ing be­hind the stone wall of­fered by the agency.

Lex­i­con ex­ecs set up a quick call on Fri­day af­ter­noon, but giv­en re­peat­ed chances to char­ac­ter­ize the is­sues the FDA has — and the $60 mil­lion ques­tion on whether reg­u­la­tors are de­mand­ing more da­ta or posed chal­lenges that can be dealt with in the near-term — CEO Lon­nel Coats re­peat­ed­ly bat­ted back the queries with­out an­swer­ing them.

That does not bode well for the com­pa­ny or any prospects it may have in the US mar­ket, as com­pa­nies are rou­tine­ly anx­ious to seize on short cuts to CRLs. Lex­i­con al­so has hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars in mile­stone mon­ey sit­ting on the ta­ble for late-stage reg­u­la­to­ry goals and com­mer­cial launch­es.

In­vestors didn’t like the sound of si­lence, slam­ming Lex­i­con shares, which dropped 24%.

Eli Lil­ly’s Jar­diance, which had an im­pres­sive fol­lowup on its car­dio pro­file, along with J&J’s In­vokana and As­traZeneca’s Farx­i­ga are on­ly SGLT2 tar­get­ed. Steglatro from Mer­ck and Pfiz­er ar­rived in late 2017, leav­ing Sanofi and Lex­i­con try­ing to play catchup with a spe­cial 1/2 on of­fer for Type 1 di­a­betes, adding an oral drug to in­sulin for bet­ter glycemic con­trol.

Every month in added de­lays gives the com­pe­ti­tion that much ex­tra time to ex­pand their leads, and chal­lenge Sanofi and Lex­i­con on var­i­ous unique as­pects of their pitch. In the mean­time, the part­ners ex­pect a Q2 ap­proval in Eu­rope, where reg­u­la­tors have proven far more open to the mar­ket­ing ap­pli­ca­tion.

While Lex­i­con will be pun­ished more se­vere­ly, the set­back won’t play well for Sanofi, ei­ther. The com­pa­ny has been try­ing to take charge of its own des­tiny by push­ing for­ward new and im­por­tant drugs. But it’s been ham­pered by a se­ries of sna­fus, in­clud­ing the go­ing on­bat­tle that it’s now fight­ing with of­fi­cials in the Philip­pines over its dengue vac­cine.

John Hood [file photo]

UP­DATE: Cel­gene and the sci­en­tist who cham­pi­oned fe­dra­tinib's rise from Sanofi's R&D grave­yard win FDA OK

Six years after Sanofi gave it up for dead, the FDA has approved the myelofibrosis drug fedratinib, now owned by Celgene.

The drug will be sold as Inrebic, and will soon land in the portfolio at Bristol-Myers Squibb, which is finalizing a deal to acquire Celgene.

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UP­DAT­ED: AveX­is sci­en­tif­ic founder was axed — and No­var­tis names a new CSO in wake of an ethics scan­dal

Now at the center of a storm of controversy over its decision to keep its knowledge of manipulated data hidden from regulators during an FDA review, Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan has found a longtime veteran in the ranks to head the scientific work underway at AveXis, where the incident occurred. And the scientific founder has hit the exit.

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Ab­b­Vie gets its FDA OK for JAK in­hibitor upadac­i­tinib, but don’t look for this one to hit ex­ecs’ lofty ex­pec­ta­tions

Another big drug approval came through on Friday afternoon as the FDA OK’d AbbVie’s upadacitinib — an oral JAK1 inhibitor that is hitting the rheumatoid arthritis market with a black box warning of serious malignancies, infections and thrombosis reflecting fears associated with the class.

It will be sold as Rinvoq — at a wholesale price of $59,000 a year — and will likely soon face competition from a drug that AbbVie once controlled, and spurned. Reuters reports that a 4-week supply of Humira, by comparison, is $5,174, adding up to about $67,000 a year.

The top 10 fran­chise drugs in bio­phar­ma his­to­ry will earn a to­tal of $1.4T (tril­lion) by 2024 — what does that tell us?

Just in case you were looking for more evidence of just how important Amgen’s patent win on Enbrel is for the company and its investors, EvaluatePharma has come up with a forward-looking consensus estimate on what the list of top 10 drugs will look like in 2024.

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UP­DAT­ED: Sci­en­tist-CEO ac­cused of im­prop­er­ly us­ing con­fi­den­tial in­fo from uni­corn Alec­tor

The executive team at Alector $ALEC has a bone to pick with scientific co-founder Asa Abeliovich. Their latest quarterly rundown has this brief note buried inside:

On June 18, 2019, we initiated a confidential arbitration proceeding against Dr. Asa Abeliovich, our former consulting co-founder, related to alleged breaches of his consulting agreement and the improper use of our confidential information that he learned during the course of rendering services to us as our consulting Chief Scientific Officer/Chief Innovation Officer. We are in the early stage of this arbitration proceeding and are unable to assess or provide any assurances regarding its possible outcome.

There’s no explicit word in the filing on what kind of confidential info was involved, but the proceeding got started 2 days ahead of Abeliovich’s IPO.

Abeliovich, formerly a tenured associate professor at Columbia, is a top scientist in the field of neurodegeneration, which is where Alector is targeted. More recently, he’s also helped start up Prevail Therapeutics as the CEO, which raised $125 million in an IPO. And there he’s planning on working on new gene therapies that target genetically defined subpopulations of Parkinson’s disease. Followup programs target Gaucher disease, frontotemporal dementia and synucleinopathies.

But this time Abeliovich is the CEO rather than a founding scientist. And some of their pipeline overlaps with Alector’s.

Abeliovich and Prevail, though, aren’t taking this one lying down.

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Chi­na has be­come a CEO-lev­el pri­or­i­ty for multi­na­tion­al phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies: the trend and the im­pli­ca­tions

After a “hot” period of rapid growth between 2009 and 2012, and a relatively “cooler” period of slower growth from 2013 to 2015, China has once again become a top-of-mind priority for the CEOs of most large, multinational pharmaceutical companies.

At the International Pharma Forum, hosted in March in Beijing by the R&D Based Pharmaceutical Association Committee (RDPAC) and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), no fewer than seven CEOs of major multinational pharmaceutical firms participated, including GSK, Eli Lilly, LEO Pharma, Merck KGaA, Pfizer, Sanofi and UCB. A few days earlier, the CEOs of several other large multinationals attended the China Development Forum, an annual business forum hosted by the research arm of China’s State Council. It’s hard to imagine any other country, except the US, having such drawing power at CEO level.

As dis­as­ter struck, Ab­b­Vie’s Rick Gon­za­lez swooped in on Al­ler­gan with an of­fer Brent Saun­ders couldn’t say no to

Early March was a no good, awful, terrible time for Allergan CEO Brent Saunders. His big lead drug had imploded in a Phase III disaster and activists were after his hide — or at least his chairman’s title — as the stock price continued a steady droop that had eviscerated share value for investors.

But it was a perfect time for AbbVie CEO Rick Gonzalez to pick up the phone and ask Saunders if he’d like to consider a “strategic” deal.

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As­traZeneca's jug­ger­naut PARP play­er Lyn­parza scoops up an­oth­er dom­i­nant win in PhI­II as the FDA adds a 'break­through' for Calquence

AstraZeneca’s oncology R&D group under José Baselga keeps churning out hits.

Wednesday morning the pharma giant and their partners at Merck parted the curtains on a successful readout for their Phase III PAOLA-1 study, demonstrating statistically significant improvement in progression-free survival for women with ovarian cancer in a first-line maintenance setting who added their PARP Lynparza to Avastin. This is their second late-stage success in ovarian cancer, which will help stave off rivals like GSK.

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ICER blasts FDA, PTC and Sarep­ta for high prices on DMD drugs Em­flaza, Ex­ondys 51

ICER has some strong words for PTC, Sarepta and the FDA as the US drug price watchdog concludes that as currently priced, their respective new treatments for Duchenne muscular dystrophy are decidedly not cost-effective.

The final report — which cements the conclusions of a draft issued in May — incorporates the opinion of a panel of 17 experts ICER convened in a public meeting last month. It also based its analysis of Emflaza (deflazacort) and Exondys 51 (eteplirsen) on updated annual costs of $81,400 and over $1 million, respectively, after citing “incorrect” lower numbers in the initial calculations.