GW Phar­ma’s ral­ly rolls on as cannabi­noid drug scores again in PhI­II Epid­i­olex an­ti-con­vul­sive study

GW Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals’ late-stage cannabi­noid high is on a roll.

The UK biotech post­ed strong ef­fi­ca­cy da­ta for its ex­per­i­men­tal an­ti-con­vul­sive ther­a­py Epid­i­olex in treat­ing Lennox-Gas­taut syn­drome, three months af­ter get­ting the par­ty start­ed with a big ral­ly on its piv­otal da­ta for Dravet syn­drome, a rare form of se­vere epilep­sy.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors said their drug ex­act­ly dou­bled the 22% me­di­an re­duc­tion in drop seizures among a group of LGS pa­tients with an av­er­age age of 15 — 44% vs 22%.

The Lon­don-based com­pa­ny looks to be set­ting the stage to wrap up a slate of new drug ap­pli­ca­tions for Epid­i­olex, and in­vestors re­spond­ed with a 20% spike in the biotech’s share price this morn­ing. The surge came af­ter the Brex­it vote rat­tled mar­kets at the end of last week, send­ing biotech shares down as in­vestors fled risk in search of a port in the storm.

Back in March the com­pa­ny ex­cit­ed in­vestors with re­sults for the first of four late-stage stud­ies on Epid­i­olex, with the drug re­duc­ing con­vul­sions in chil­dren with treat­ment-re­sis­tant Dravet syn­drome by a me­di­an av­er­age of 39% com­pared to on­ly 13% in the place­bo arm.

There are cur­rent­ly no drugs ap­proved for the dis­ease. And if GW can con­tin­ue to rack up pos­i­tive da­ta, it may well prove to be the pi­o­neer for cannabi­noid treat­ments. Epid­i­olex us­es a pure form of CBD, a com­pound found in mar­i­jua­na. The plan now is to fol­low up with pre-NDA meet­ings with the FDA with a fil­ing planned next year.

The com­pa­ny de­clined to spec­u­late on a po­ten­tial price for the drug in a call this morn­ing with an­a­lysts, but some of the most bull­ish an­a­lysts cov­er­ing the com­pa­ny have is­sued some dizzy­ing peak sales es­ti­mates rang­ing from $2 bil­lion to $3 bil­lion a year.

GW will have to ex­plain an un­fa­vor­able safe­ty pro­file, though. Re­searchers re­port­ed that 20 pa­tients on Epid­i­olex “ex­pe­ri­enced a se­ri­ous ad­verse event (nine of which were deemed treat­ment re­lat­ed) com­pared with four pa­tients on place­bo (one of which was deemed treat­ment re­lat­ed). Twelve pa­tients on Epid­i­olex dis­con­tin­ued treat­ment due to ad­verse events com­pared with one pa­tient on place­bo. There was one death in the Epid­i­olex group, which was deemed un­re­lat­ed to treat­ment. Of the pa­tients who com­plet­ed this tri­al, 100 per­cent have opt­ed to con­tin­ue in­to an open-la­bel ex­ten­sion tri­al.”

The type of se­ri­ous events tracked in this sec­ond piv­otal study is “very sim­i­lar” to what was seen in the first tri­al, not­ed CMO Stephen Wright in the call. There were no un­ex­pect­ed se­ri­ous ad­verse events and no changes in the safe­ty pro­file.

GW al­so has a dose-rang­ing study for Lennox-Gas­taut syn­drome that should read out lat­er in the year with a Phase III tri­al of Epid­i­olex in Tuber­ous Scle­ro­sis Com­plex al­ready un­der­way and a late-stage study in in­fan­tile spasms due to launch in the fourth quar­ter.

Hal Barron, GSK

Break­ing the death spi­ral: Hal Bar­ron talks about trans­form­ing the mori­bund R&D cul­ture at GSK in a crit­i­cal year for the late-stage pipeline

Just ahead of GlaxoSmithKline’s Q2 update on Wednesday, science chief Hal Barron is making the rounds to talk up the pharma giant’s late-stage strategy as the top execs continue to woo back a deeply skeptical investor group while pushing through a whole new R&D culture.

And that’s not easy, Barron is quick to note. He told the Financial Times:

I think that culture, to some extent, is as hard, in fact even harder, than doing the science.

Endpoints News

Basic subscription required

Unlock this story instantly and join 55,200+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Aca­dia is mak­ing the best of it, but their lat­est PhI­II Nu­plazid study is a bust

Acadia’s late-stage program to widen the commercial prospects for Nuplazid has hit a wall. The biotech reported that their Phase III ENHANCE trial flat failed. And while they $ACAD did their best to cherry pick positive data wherever they can be found, this is a clear setback for the biotech.

With close to 400 patients enrolled, researchers said the drug flunked the primary endpoint as an adjunctive therapy for patients with an inadequate response to antipsychotic therapy. The p-value was an ugly 0.0940 on the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale, which the company called out as a positive trend.

Their shares slid 12% on the news, good for a $426 million hit on a $3.7 billion market cap at close.

Endpoints News

Basic subscription required

Unlock this story instantly and join 55,200+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Some Big Phar­mas stepped up their game on da­ta trans­paren­cy — but which flunked the test?

The nonprofit Bioethics International has come out with their latest scorecard on data transparency among the big biopharmas in the industry — flagging a few standouts while spotlighting some laggards who are continuing to underperform.

Now in its third year, the nonprofit created a new set of standards with Yale School of Medicine and Stanford Law School to evaluate the track record on trial registration, results reporting, publication and data-sharing practice.

Busy Gilead crew throws strug­gling biotech a life­line, with some cash up­front and hun­dreds of mil­lions in biobucks for HIV deal

Durect $DRRX got a badly needed shot in the arm Monday morning as Gilead’s busy BD team lined up access to its extended-release platform tech for HIV and hepatitis B.

Gilead, a leader in the HIV sector, is paying a modest $25 million in cash for the right to jump on the platform at Durect, which has been using its technology to come up with an extended-release version of bupivacaine. The FDA rejected that in 2014, but Durect has been working on a comeback.

In­tec blitzed by PhI­II flop as lead pro­gram fails to beat Mer­ck­'s stan­dard com­bo for Parkin­son’s

Intec Pharma’s $NTEC lead drug slammed into a brick wall Monday morning. The small-cap Israeli biotech reported that its lead program — coming off a platform designed to produce a safer, more effective oral drug for Parkinson’s — failed the Phase III at the primary endpoint.

Researchers at Intec, which has already seen its share price collapse over the past few months, says that its Accordion Pill-Carbidopa/Levodopa failed to prove superior to Sinemet in reducing daily ‘off’ time. 

Cel­gene racks up third Ote­zla ap­proval, heat­ing up talks about who Bris­tol-My­ers will sell to

Whoever is taking Otezla off Bristol-Myers Squibb’s hands will have one more revenue stream to boast.

The drug — a rising star in Celgene’s pipeline that generated global sales of $1.6 billion last year — is now OK’d to treat oral ulcers associated with Behçet’s disease, a common symptom for a rare inflammatory disorder. This marks the third FDA approval for the PDE4 inhibitor since 2014, when it was greenlighted for plaque psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

Endpoints News

Basic subscription required

Unlock this story instantly and join 55,200+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Francesco De Rubertis

Medicxi is rolling out its biggest fund ever to back Eu­rope's top 'sci­en­tists with strange ideas'

Francesco De Rubertis built Medicxi to be the kind of biotech venture player he would have liked to have known back when he was a full time scientist.

“When I was a scientist 20 years ago I would have loved Medicxi,’ the co-founder tells me. It’s the kind of place run by and for investigators, what the Medicxi partner calls “scientists with strange ideas — a platform for the drug hunter and scientific entrepreneur. That’s what I wanted when I was a scientist.”

Endpoints News

Basic subscription required

Unlock this story instantly and join 55,200+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Af­ter a decade, Vi­iV CSO John Pot­tage says it's time to step down — and he's hand­ing the job to long­time col­league Kim Smith

ViiV Healthcare has always been something unique in the global drug industry.

Owned by GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer — with GSK in the lead as majority owner — it was created 10 years ago in a time of deep turmoil for the field as something independent of the pharma giants, but with access to lots of infrastructural support on demand. While R&D at the mother ship inside GSK was souring, a razor-focused ViiV provided a rare bright spot, challenging Gilead on a lucrative front in delivering new combinations that require fewer therapies with a more easily tolerated regimen.

They kept a massive number of people alive who would otherwise have been facing a death sentence. And they made money.

And throughout, John Pottage has been the chief scientific and chief medical officer.

Until now.

Endpoints News

Basic subscription required

Unlock this story instantly and join 55,200+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Vlad Coric (Biohaven)

In an­oth­er dis­ap­point­ment for in­vestors, FDA slaps down Bio­haven’s re­vised ver­sion of an old ALS drug

Biohaven is at risk of making a habit of disappointing its investors.

Late Friday the biotech $BHVN reported that the FDA had rejected its application for riluzole, an old drug that they had made over into a sublingual formulation that dissolves under the tongue. According to Biohaven, the FDA had a problem with the active ingredient used in a bioequivalence study back in 2017, which they got from the Canadian drugmaker Apotex.

Apotex, though, has been a disaster ground. The manufacturer voluntarily yanked the ANDAs on 31 drugs — in late 2017 — after the FDA came across serious manufacturing deficiencies at their plants in India. A few days ago, the FDA made it official.

Endpoints News

Basic subscription required

Unlock this story instantly and join 55,200+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.