Christophe Weber, Takeda CEO (Miho Takahashi/The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images)

FDA's an­timi­cro­bial ad­comm unan­i­mous­ly backs Takeda's drug for post-trans­plant cy­tomegalovirus

The FDA’s an­timi­cro­bial drugs ad­vi­so­ry com­mit­tee on Thurs­day vot­ed unan­i­mous­ly in fa­vor of FDA ap­prov­ing Take­da’s an­tivi­ral for post-trans­plant cy­tomegalovirus.

The ad­comm vot­ed 17-0 on the ques­tion of whether the over­all ben­e­fit-risk pro­file is fa­vor­able for the use of Take­da’s marib­avir for the treat­ment of trans­plant re­cip­i­ents with CMV in­fec­tion and dis­ease re­frac­to­ry to treat­ment and with geno­typ­ic re­sis­tance to four oth­er an­tivi­rals — gan­ci­clovir, val­gan­ci­clovir, fos­car­net or cid­o­fovir.

On whether the drug, which took about two decades to de­vel­op, should be ap­proved for the same pop­u­la­tion but those with­out geno­typ­ic re­sis­tance to the four an­tivi­rals, the com­mit­tee vot­ed 17-0.

FDA’s brief­ing doc­u­ments re­leased ahead of the meet­ing showed how marib­avir proved safe across mul­ti­ple stud­ies and sta­tis­ti­cal­ly su­pe­ri­or to in­ves­ti­ga­tor-as­signed treat­ment (IAT) in a Phase III tri­al, which Take­da an­nounced ear­li­er this year.

While sev­er­al mem­bers of the ad­comm said dur­ing the dis­cus­sion that they don’t want to let per­fect be the en­e­my of the good in terms of the da­ta around marib­avir, sev­er­al oth­ers ques­tioned the end­point used in that tri­al, and why the tri­al didn’t in­clude a more di­verse pop­u­la­tion.

Ad­comm chair Lind­sey Baden of the Dana-Far­ber Can­cer In­sti­tute, who vot­ed in fa­vor of the ap­proval, al­so called the da­ta “messy,” but said the to­tal­i­ty of da­ta is per­sua­sive. He al­so not­ed the ad­van­tages of an oral drug in this in­di­ca­tion.

Com­mit­tee mem­ber Nan­cy Bridges, chief of the trans­plan­ta­tion branch at the NIH’s Na­tion­al In­sti­tute of Al­ler­gy and In­fec­tious Dis­eases, who vot­ed in fa­vor of ap­proval al­so said that over­all, “the da­ta are very per­sua­sive.”

But she not­ed that the par­tic­i­pants in the Phase III tri­al “were over­whelm­ing­ly white,” even though this con­di­tion has a high­er preva­lence among African Amer­i­cans. “I’d like to see some da­ta from the com­pa­ny on ef­fi­ca­cy in African Amer­i­cans, which we don’t have,” Bridges said.

George Siber­ry, a med­ical of­fi­cer at the US Agency for In­ter­na­tion­al De­vel­op­ment, al­so said it was dis­ap­point­ing that no ado­les­cents were in­clud­ed in the piv­otal tri­al.

Pe­ter Weina, di­rec­tor of the De­fense Health Agency, said that even if the drug is ap­proved for a nar­row pop­u­la­tion, it’ll be used for all dif­fer­ent in­di­ca­tions off-la­bel.

“I’m torn that the dif­fer­ence be­tween geno­typ­ic re­sis­tance and no geno­typ­ic re­sis­tance is tru­ly a moot point here,” Weina said.

An ap­proval from FDA would cap a long and rocky his­to­ry for the drug, which has changed hands sev­er­al times over the last two decades fol­low­ing both pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive tri­als.

Glax­o­SmithK­line first syn­the­sized the drug about 20 years ago and did some ear­ly clin­i­cal work be­fore li­cens­ing it to the rare dis­ease and in­fec­tious dis­ease-fo­cused biotech Vi­roPhar­ma.

Vi­roPhar­ma then missed a pri­ma­ry end­point in a Phase III study in 2009. Marib­avir failed to pre­vent CMV in­fec­tions bet­ter than place­bo in pa­tients re­ceiv­ing bone mar­row trans­plants. Vi­roPhar­ma sug­gest­ed a high­er dose might lead to a bet­ter re­sponse, but end­ed up pass­ing the can­di­date to Shire as part of a $4.2 bil­lion buy­out in 2013.

Shire upped the dose in var­i­ous phar­ma­co­ki­net­ic and ef­fi­ca­cy stud­ies, and in 2016, a Phase II study showed that the drug helped clear in­fec­tions. The FDA com­mend­ed the re­sults with a break­through des­ig­na­tion in 2018. And the fol­low­ing year, Take­da com­plet­ed its ac­qui­si­tion of Shire for $62 bil­lion.

MedTech clinical trials require a unique regulatory and study design approach and so engaging a highly experienced CRO to ensure compliance and accurate data across all stages is critical to development milestones.

In­no­v­a­tive MedTech De­mands Spe­cial­ist Clin­i­cal Tri­al Reg­u­la­to­ry Af­fairs and De­sign

Avance Clinical is the Australian CRO for international biotechs providing world-class clinical research services with FDA-accepted data across all phases. With Avance Clinical, biotech companies can leverage Australia’s supportive clinical trials environment which includes no IND requirement plus a 43.5% Government incentive rebate on clinical spend. The CRO has been delivering clinical drug development services for international biotechs for FDA and EMA regulatory approval for the past 24 years. The company has been recognized for the past two consecutive years with the prestigious Frost & Sullivan CRO Best Practices Award and a finalist in Informa Pharma’s Best CRO award for 2022.

Up­dat­ed: Amid mas­sive re­struc­tur­ing, Bio­gen looks to re­duce phys­i­cal pres­ence in Boston

Biogen is putting a sizable chunk of office and research space in Kendall Square and Weston, MA up for sublease, marking another big change as the biotech grapples with the aftershock of a disastrous and controversial rollout for its Alzheimer’s drug.

The subbleases are “part of Biogen’s overall implementation of the ‘Future of Work,’ which is allowing us to optimize our footprint and reduce the amount of space we occupy, taking into consideration new elements such as the hybrid work model,” Biogen spokesperson Ashleigh Koss wrote in a statement to Endpoints News, adding that the company has had subleases across several buildings for years.

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Tony Coles, Cerevel CEO

Cerev­el takes the pub­lic of­fer­ing route, with a twist — rais­ing big mon­ey thanks to ri­val da­ta

As public biotechs seek to climb out of the bear market, a popular strategy to raise cash has been through public offerings on the heels of positive data. But one proposed raise Wednesday appeared to take advantage not of a company’s own data, but those from a competitor.

Cerevel Therapeutics plans to raise $250 million in a public offering and another $250 million in debt, the biotech announced Wednesday afternoon, even though it did not report any news on its pipeline. However, the move comes days after rival Karuna Therapeutics touted positive Phase III data in schizophrenia, a field where Cerevel is pursuing a similar program.

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Hervé Affagard, MaaT Pharma CEO

One year in­to clin­i­cal hold, FDA has more ques­tions about 'pooled' mi­cro­bio­me ther­a­py

The FDA is still wary about a trial testing a microbiome therapy in patients with steroid-resistant acute graft-versus-host disease (aGVHD).

A year after MaaT Pharma’s IND application in the US was first met with a clinical hold, the French biotech said the agency is maintaining the hold. The crux of the matter, MaaT suggested, has to do with the way it puts together its drug candidate, which is administered as an enema (i.e. an injection of fluid into the bowel).

Who are the women blaz­ing trails in bio­phar­ma R&D? Nom­i­nate them for End­points' 2022 spe­cial re­port

Over the past three years, Endpoints News has spotlighted 60 women who have blazed trails and supercharged R&D across the biopharma world. And judging from the response we’ve received, to both our special reports and live events, telling their stories — including any obstacles they may have had to overcome — has inspired our readers in many different ways.

But change takes time, and the fact remains that women are still underrepresented at the upper ranks of the drug-making world.

Pfiz­er launch­es re­bate pro­gram for rare dis­ease pa­tients who have to stop tak­ing Panzy­ga

Pfizer is launching its second-ever rebate program, this time for Panzyga, its treatment for a rare neurological disease of the peripheral nerves.

The program began last month, according to STAT which first reported the news, and offers a refund of out-of-pocket costs for patients who must discontinue their course before the fifth treatment for “clinical reasons.”

Panzyga was approved back in 2018 to treat primary immunodeficiency (PI) in patients two years and older and chronic immune thrombocytopenia (cITP) in adults. It has since picked up an indication in chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP), a condition that’s characterized by weakness of the arms or legs, tingling or numbness, and a loss of deep tendon reflexes, according to the NIH.

Horizon's back-to-school campaign for children with cystinosis includes an all about me poster as part of a care package box.

Hori­zon read­ies kids and fam­i­lies for back to school with week­long ac­tiv­i­ties around rare dis­ease cysti­nosis

Going back to school is usually a bumpy readjustment from summer freedom for all kids, but especially for kids with chronic health conditions. Horizon Therapeutics is hoping to help smooth the way for some who have the rare disease cystinosis. Cystinosis is a genetic disease that causes the amino acid cystine to build up in different tissues and organs.

The “Gear Up” for school campaign is running all week with different online and at-home events and activities for families and children with cystinosis. Each family who signed up receives a care package mailed to their home including an activity coloring book “Michael’s Show-and-Tell.” The book tells Michael’s story about living with cystinosis while offering kids matching, coloring and finding object games along with information.

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Phar­mas spend mil­lions on di­a­betes ad­ver­tis­ing, but few pa­tients can re­call brand names — sur­vey

While many Big Pharma diabetes brands spend millions of dollars on TV ads every year, most people with type 2 diabetes don’t recognize specific drug brand names, according to a new study.

No brand garnered more than 30% recognition in Phreesia Life Science’s latest in-office patient survey of more than 4,000 adults with type 2 diabetes. Eli Lilly’s Trulicity topped the list as the most recognized brand with 29% of those surveyed recalling it, followed by Boehringer Ingelheim and Lilly’s Jardiance at 27% and Merck’s Januvia and Novo Nordisk tying for the third spot with 24%. Meanwhile, 76% of the patients surveyed were familiar with the generic treatment metformin.

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Faced with thou­sands of opi­oid law­suits, En­do says it will like­ly file for bank­rupt­cy 'im­mi­nent­ly'

Endo International will likely be the next pharma company to file for bankruptcy under a mountain of opioid lawsuits.

The Dublin, Ireland-based company revealed in its Q2 results on Tuesday that it’s in talks with first lien creditors, and that “these negotiations will likely result in a pre-arranged filing under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code by Endo International plc and substantially all of its subsidiaries, which could occur imminently.”