Alex Azar (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)

HHS seeks to pull Trump-era 'tick­ing time­bom­b' rule that would've put 95% of FDA reg­u­la­tions on the chop­ping block

The HHS is propos­ing to with­draw a Trump-era fi­nal rule that would have sun­set thou­sands of FDA and oth­er pub­lic health agency rules based on how long they’ve been in place.

The de­ci­sion fol­lows the fil­ing of a law­suit last March, in which sev­er­al non­prof­its al­leged: “The out­go­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion plant­ed a tick­ing time­bomb set to go off in five years un­less the HHS, be­gin­ning right now, de­votes an enor­mous amount of re­sources to an un­prece­dent­ed and in­fea­si­ble task.”

That task for the FDA, ac­cord­ing to the HHS, would be to re­view over 7,000 sec­tions of the CFR that were pro­mul­gat­ed by the agency and which are more than 10 years old, or would be­come more than 10 years old dur­ing the first five years the rule would be in ef­fect, rep­re­sent­ing over 95% of the FDA’s cur­rent reg­u­la­tions. The HHS al­so pre­vi­ous­ly de­layed the start of the Trump rule so that crit­i­cal re­sources weren’t di­vert­ed away from the pan­dem­ic to the re­view of fed­er­al reg­u­la­tions.

The HHS said Fri­day that, over­all, pulling the rule will save it more than $900 mil­lion over the next decade, and added sig­nif­i­cant de­tails on the ways in which for­mer HHS Sec­re­tary Alex Azar’s pre­vi­ous fi­nal rule was flawed:

Our think­ing is in­formed by a reeval­u­a­tion of the fac­tu­al premis­es and con­clu­sions in the SUN­SET fi­nal rule that are cen­tral to the De­part­ment’s analy­sis of the rule’s im­pli­ca­tions and ef­fects. In par­tic­u­lar, based on a re­analy­sis of the reg­u­la­to­ry im­pact of the rule, we now be­lieve that the rule like­ly rest­ed on a flawed un­der­stand­ing of the re­sources re­quired for this un­der­tak­ing, which im­pli­cates the like­li­hood that HHS reg­u­la­tions would ex­pire, and which in turn will re­quire the De­part­ment to make re­source al­lo­ca­tion de­ci­sions which could im­pede the De­part­ment’s abil­i­ty to car­ry out oth­er key pri­or­i­ties. That di­ver­sion of re­sources will like­ly im­pede ef­forts to adopt new rules to ad­dress na­tion­al pri­or­i­ties and ad­vance eq­ui­ty for all, in­clud­ing his­tor­i­cal­ly un­der­served and mar­gin­al­ized com­mu­ni­ties. It is there­fore po­ten­tial­ly in­con­sis­tent with the cur­rent Ad­min­is­tra­tion’s poli­cies that aim to em­pow­er agen­cies to use ap­pro­pri­ate tools to achieve those ends.

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His­toric drug pric­ing re­forms pass; Pfiz­er ac­quires GBT; The long search for non-opi­oid pain drugs; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

The Endpoints Weekly has officially crossed the 60,000 mark on subscribers — thanks to all of your support. As the editorial team grows, we’ve been able to do a lot more, with many of those on display this week. Be sure to check out Lei Lei Wu’s deep dive on pain R&D. If you missed it, you may also rewatch her companion panel here.

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Gold for adults, sil­ver for in­fants: Pfiz­er's Pre­vnar 2.0 head­ed to FDA months af­ter Mer­ck­'s green light

Pfizer was first to the finish line for the next-gen pneumococcal vaccine in adults, but Merck beat its rival with a jab for children in June.

Now, two months after Merck’s 15-valent Vaxneuvance won the FDA stamp of approval for kids, Pfizer is out with some late-stage data on its 20-valent shot for infants.

Known as Prevnar 20 for adults, Pfizer’s 20vPnC will head to the FDA by the end of this year for an approval request in infants, the Big Pharma said Friday morning. Discussions with the FDA will occur first and more late-stage pediatric trials are expected to read out soon, informing the regulatory pathway in other countries and regions.

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No­var­tis re­ports two pa­tient deaths af­ter treat­ment with Zol­gens­ma

Two children with spinal muscular atrophy have died after receiving Novartis’ Zolgensma, a gene therapy designed as a one-time treatment for the rare fatal disease.

The deaths, which resulted from acute liver failure, occurred in Russia and Kazakhstan, Novartis confirmed in a statement to Endpoints News. Having notified health authorities across all the markets where Zolgensma is available, it will update the drug label “to specify that fatal acute liver failure has been reported,” a spokesperson wrote.

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FDA ap­proves sec­ond in­di­ca­tion for As­traZeneca and Dai­ichi's En­her­tu in less than a week

AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo’s antibody-drug conjugate Enhertu scored its second approval in less than a week, this time for a subset of lung cancer patients.

Enhertu received accelerated approval on Thursday to treat adults with unresectable or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose tumors have activating HER2 (ERBB2) mutations, and who have already received a prior systemic therapy.

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Elcin Barker Ergun, Menarini Group CEO

Amid Roche and Sanofi's oral SERD set­backs, Menar­i­ni gets speedy re­view at FDA

Menarini and Radius Health are getting a speedy review at the FDA for their oral SERD breast cancer drug months after the field opened up with competitors failing and fleeing.

It was a one-two-three punch in March, April and May as Sanofi flunked its first big test for its oral selective estrogen receptor degrader (SERD), Roche also flamed out in a Phase II and G1 Therapeutics ended its program after scoping out the data and potential partners.

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House pass­es his­toric drug pric­ing re­forms, lin­ing up decades-in-the-mak­ing win for Biden and De­moc­rats

The US House of Representatives today voted along party lines (all Dems voted for it), 220-207 to pass new, wide-ranging legislation that will allow Medicare drug price negotiations for the first time ever, and cap seniors’ drug expenses to $2,000 per year and seniors’ insulin costs at $35 per month.

Setting up a major victory for President Joe Biden, representatives returned from their summer recess to pass the Inflation Reduction Act, even as many noted the bill would only modestly reduce inflation.

Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) (Francis Chung/E&E News/POLITICO via AP Images)

Sen­ate Fi­nance chair con­tin­ues his in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­to phar­ma tax­es with re­quests for Am­gen

Amgen is the latest pharma company to appear on the radar of Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR), who is investigating the way pharma companies are using subsidiaries in low- or zero-tax countries to lower their tax bills.

Like its peers Merck, AbbVie and Bristol Myers Squibb, Wyden notes how Amgen uses its Puerto Rico operations to consistently pay tax rates that are substantially lower than the U.S. corporate tax rate of 21%, with an effective tax rate of 10.7% in 2020 and 12.1% in 2021.

J&J to re­move talc prod­ucts from shelves world­wide, re­plac­ing with corn­starch-based port­fo­lio

After controversially spinning out its talc liabilities and filing for bankruptcy in an attempt to settle 38,000 lawsuits, Johnson & Johnson is now changing up the formula for its baby powder products.

J&J is beginning the transition to an all cornstarch-based baby powder portfolio, the pharma giant announced on Thursday — just months after a federal judge ruled in favor of its “Texas two-step” bankruptcy to settle allegations that its talc products contained asbestos and caused cancer. An appeals court has since agreed to revisit that case.