FDA's vac­cine ad­comm unan­i­mous­ly sup­ports Mod­er­na's boost­er in same pop­u­la­tions as Pfiz­er's boost­er

The FDA’s vac­cine ad­vi­so­ry com­mit­tee on Thurs­day vot­ed 19-0 in sup­port of ex­pand­ing Mod­er­na’s Covid-19 vac­cine EUA for boost­er dos­es for cer­tain high-risk in­di­vid­u­als. FDA is ex­pect­ed to au­tho­rize the Mod­er­na boost­er short­ly.

Sim­i­lar­ly to the Pfiz­er boost­er shot, Mod­er­na’s will like­ly be au­tho­rized for those old­er than 65, adults at high risk of se­vere Covid-19, and adults whose fre­quent in­sti­tu­tion­al or oc­cu­pa­tion­al ex­po­sure to SARS-CoV-2 puts them at high risk of se­ri­ous com­pli­ca­tions of Covid-19. But un­like the Pfiz­er ad­comm, where FDA had to scram­ble to get the com­mit­tee to vote in fa­vor of a boost­er, this com­mit­tee was unan­i­mous with the Mod­er­na shot.

Is­raeli sci­en­tists once again pre­sent­ed the lat­est in their ex­pe­ri­ence with boost­ers, which showed re­duced Covid-19 cas­es. Sev­er­al pan­elists praised how com­pelling the Is­raeli da­ta pre­sent­ed were.

Paul Of­fit

Paul Of­fit, a VRB­PAC pan­elist and pro­fes­sor of pe­di­atrics at Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal of Philadel­phia, called the da­ta clear for 70- to 79-year-olds, but said he was less im­pressed with the da­ta for those who are younger.

Oth­ers al­so ques­tioned the da­ta be­hind the boost­er, par­tic­u­lar­ly as for Mod­er­na is ap­ply­ing to ad­min­is­ter a half-dose of what was pro­vid­ed in the pri­ma­ry, two-shot se­ries.

“The da­ta we have is on­ly lim­it­ed to about 149 pa­tients on Mod­er­na. So I have some hes­i­ta­tion,” VRB­PAC mem­ber Jean­nette Lee, a pro­fes­sor of bio­sta­tis­tics at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Arkansas for Med­ical Sci­ences, said.

Pan­elist Er­ic Ru­bin, ed­i­tor in chief of the New Eng­land Jour­nal of Med­i­cine and an ex­pert on in­fec­tious dis­eases at Har­vard’s pub­lic health school, not­ed “the da­ta are not per­fect,” but these are “ex­tra­or­di­nary times.” He al­so re­it­er­at­ed the idea that the over­all ef­fect of a boost­er is much less than pri­ma­ry vac­cines, both here and abroad.

“We need to vac­ci­nate the un­vac­ci­nat­ed,” Ru­bin said.

Oth­er mem­bers of the com­mit­tee ex­plained how the Mod­er­na boost­er needs to win EUA as it wouldn’t make sense as a prac­ti­cal mat­ter to have a Pfiz­er boost­er and not one for Mod­er­na.

Pe­ter Marks

FDA’s top vac­cine leader Pe­ter Marks of­fered a sim­i­lar sen­ti­ment in not­ing that the CDC’s com­mit­tee, which is like­ly next up to re­view the Mod­er­na boost­er, may de­cide to fur­ther ma­nip­u­late the rec­om­men­da­tions from VRB­PAC, “but to the ex­tent that we can come to place that’ll be ac­cept­able for ACIP, that’ll be ap­pre­ci­at­ed.”

VRB­PAC pan­elist Steven Pergam, an ex­pert on in­fec­tious dis­eases at the Fred Hutchin­son Can­cer Re­search Cen­ter in Seat­tle, said he is “very sup­port­ive” of those with oc­cu­pa­tion­al Covid-19 risks re­ceiv­ing the boost­er, par­tic­u­lar­ly as the US seeks to pro­tect health in­sti­tu­tions from out­breaks.

For a look at all End­points News coro­n­avirus sto­ries, check out our spe­cial news chan­nel.

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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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.”

Mod­er­na seeks to dis­miss Al­ny­lam suit over Covid-19 vac­cine com­po­nent, claim­ing wrong venue

RNAi therapeutics juggernaut Alnylam Pharmaceuticals made a splash in March when it sued and sought money from both Pfizer and Moderna regarding their use of Alnylam’s biodegradable lipids, which Alnylam claims have been integral to the way both companies’ mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccines work.

But now, Moderna lawyers are firing back, telling the same Delaware district court that Alnylam’s claims can only proceed against the US government in the Court of Federal Claims because of the way the company’s contract is set up with the US government. The US has spent almost $10 billion on Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine so far.

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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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Janet Woodcock (Greg Nash/Pool via AP Images)

'I re­al­ly don’t look back': Janet Wood­cock on her tran­si­tion away from drugs

Janet Woodcock may have one of the most historically long and drug-intense tenures in FDA history, but her new role is outside of all things pharma and the once-acting FDA commissioner isn’t looking back.

“No I really don’t look back,” Woodcock told Endpoints News via email on Monday morning. “Yes I will be transitioning. Longer discussion on infrastructure needed.”

Özlem Türeci, BioNTech co-founder and Uğur Şahin, BioNTech CEO

Third dose bumps up ef­fi­ca­cy of Pfiz­er-BioN­Tech's Covid-19 vac­cine in youngest group of chil­dren to 80%

Pfizer and BioNTech said Monday that they’re ready to approach the FDA this week with early data for their booster shot for Covid-19 vaccine in the youngest age group (6 months to under 5 years), which showed 80.3% efficacy based on 10 symptomatic Covid cases identified beginning seven days after the third dose.

“The study suggests that a low 3-ug dose of our vaccine, carefully selected based on tolerability data, provides young children with a high level of protection against the recent COVID-19 strains,” Uğur Şahin, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech said in a statement. “We are preparing the relevant documents and expect completing the submission process to the FDA this week, with submissions to EMA and other regulatory agencies to follow within the coming weeks.”

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Cracks in the fa­cade: Is phar­ma's pan­dem­ic ‘feel good fac­tor’ wan­ing?

The discordant effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on pharma reputation continues. While the overall industry still retains a respectable halo from its Covid-19 quick response and leadership, a new patient group study reveals a different story emerging in the details.

On one hand, US patient advocacy groups rated the industry higher-than-ever overall. More than two-thirds (67%) of groups gave the industry a thumbs up for 2021, a whopping 10 percentage point increase over the year before, according to the PatientView annual study, now in its 9th year.

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Adar Poonawalla, Serum Institute of India CEO (Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Covid-19 roundup: Serum In­sti­tute eyes Africa for glob­al ex­pan­sion — re­port; Jun­shi an­tivi­ral hits pri­ma­ry end­point in late-stage tri­al

After Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla announced last month that the world’s largest vaccine maker stopped producing doses of Covid-19 vaccines back in December, the institute is looking to expand.

The CEO told Reuters Monday that the company is considering establishing its first manufacturing plant in Africa in its next step toward global expansion after successfully mass producing and selling hundreds of millions of Covid-19 vaccine doses out of its India-based facilities.

Michael Corbo, Pfizer CDO of inflammation & immunology

UP­DAT­ED: Plan­ning ahead for crowd­ed ul­cer­a­tive col­i­tis mar­ket, Pfiz­er spells out PhI­II da­ta on $6.7B Are­na drug

Pfizer has laid out the detailed results behind its boast that etrasimod — the S1P receptor modulator at the center of its $6.7 billion buyout of Arena Pharma — is the winner of the class, potentially leapfrogging an earlier entrant from Bristol Myers Squibb.

Pivotal data from the ELEVATE program in ulcerative colitis — which consists of two Phase III trials, one lasting 52 weeks and the other just 12 weeks — illustrate an “encouraging balance of efficacy and safety,” according to Michael Corbo, chief development officer of inflammation & immunology at Pfizer. The company is presenting the results as a late breaker at Digestive Disease Week.

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