In a come­back, Por­to­la scores FDA ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval for once-re­ject­ed An­dexxa

Some­how stay­ing on the good side of the FDA, Por­to­la $PT­LA has scored an elu­sive reg­u­la­to­ry win for their once-re­ject­ed drug an­dex­anet al­fa.

The an­ti-an­ti­co­ag­u­lant — to be mar­ket­ed as An­dexxa — won the OK via the ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval path­way, mean­ing that Por­to­la will have to run a post-mar­ket­ing tri­al to demon­strate an abil­i­ty to con­trol bleed­ing in pa­tients.  The ap­proval was based on da­ta from two Phase III stud­ies, con­duct­ed among healthy vol­un­teers, that showed An­dexxa could re­verse an­ti­co­ag­u­lant ac­tiv­i­ty of the Fac­tor Xa in­hibitors Xarel­to (ri­varox­a­ban) and Eliquis (apix­a­ban). The drug al­so comes with a black box warn­ing and is in­di­cat­ed for use when re­ver­sal of an­ti­co­ag­u­la­tion is need­ed due to life-threat­en­ing or un­con­trolled bleed­ing.

Bill Lis

Por­to­la has fought long and hard for this win. It first sub­mit­ted an NDA for An­dexxa late 2015, on­ly to be caught off guard with an FDA re­jec­tion. At the time, the South San Fran­cis­co biotech said the agency was look­ing for more in­for­ma­tion on man­u­fac­tur­ing and how the an­ti­dote works in oth­er blood thin­ning drugs, such as edox­a­ban (Savaysa) and enoxa­parin (Lovenox).

The team filed again in Au­gust 2017, ex­act­ly a year af­ter it got the com­plete re­sponse let­ter. Reg­u­la­tors have since pushed back the ac­tion date from Feb­ru­ary to May 4, and Por­to­la hint­ed in a re­cent earn­ings call that there could be fur­ther de­lays as the FDA re­quest­ed fur­ther da­ta, send­ing stock down. But noth­ing came out of that warn­ing, and Por­to­la spread word about the OK late Thurs­day — right be­fore the orig­i­nal ac­tion date.

A spokesper­son told me that the CRL Por­to­la re­ceived in 2016 “fo­cused al­most sole­ly on man­u­fac­tur­ing con­cerns, which Por­to­la ad­dressed.”

“An­dexxa is a break­through prod­uct, and as such, clin­i­cal was much faster than man­u­fac­tur­ing,” they wrote. “In oth­er words, at that time, man­u­fac­tur­ing had to catch up with clin­i­cal.”

In a lengthy press re­lease, Por­to­la did not elab­o­rate on how it re­solved the FDA’s pre­vi­ous con­cerns, choos­ing in­stead to high­light the mar­ket po­ten­tial of its re­ver­sal agent in an era when Fac­tor Xa in­hibitors have be­come in­creas­ing pop­u­lar. One of them is Por­to­la’s own Bevyxxa, whose ap­proval raised some eye­brows since it bare­ly failed a piv­otal tri­al. Eu­ro­pean reg­u­la­tors gave it a thumbs down.

“We are proud that An­dexxa is a first-in-class med­i­cine dis­cov­ered in our labs,” said CEO Bill Lis. “We re­main com­mit­ted to our sci­en­tif­ic lead­er­ship in the fields of throm­bo­sis and hema­to­log­ic can­cers.”

The com­pa­ny now plans to launch an ear­ly sup­ply pro­gram of “Gen­er­a­tion 1” An­dexxa in June, with broad­er com­mer­cial launch an­tic­i­pat­ed in ear­ly 2019, as­sum­ing the FDA green­lights the man­u­fac­tur­ing process of its Gen­er­a­tion 2 prod­uct.

Mean­while, the post-mar­ket­ing tri­al is slat­ed to be­gin in 2019 and be re­port­ed in 2023.

Por­to­la shares edged up 3% in pre-mar­ket trad­ing. Ac­cord­ing to Eval­u­atePhar­maAn­dexxa car­ries a 2022 sell­side rev­enue fore­cast of $749m.

Grow­ing ac­cep­tance of ac­cel­er­at­ed path­ways for nov­el treat­ments: but does reg­u­la­to­ry ap­proval lead to com­mer­cial suc­cess?

By Mwango Kashoki, MD, MPH, Vice President-Technical, and Richard Macaulay, Senior Director, of Parexel Regulatory & Access

In recent years, we’ve seen a significant uptake in the use of regulatory options by companies looking to accelerate the journey of life-saving drugs to market. In 2018, 73% of the novel drugs approved by the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) were designated under one or more expedited development program categories (Fast Track, Breakthrough Therapy, Priority Review, and Accelerated Approval).ᶦ

Sanofi out­lines big API plans as coro­n­avirus out­break re­port­ed­ly threat­ens short­age of 150 drugs

As the world becomes increasingly dependant on Asia for the ingredients of its medicines, Sanofi sees business to be done in Europe.

The French drugmaker said it’s creating the world’s second largest active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) manufacturer by spinning out its six current sites into a standalone company: Brindisi (Italy), Frankfurt Chemistry (Germany), Haverhill (UK), St Aubin les Elbeuf (France), Újpest (Hungary) and Vertolaye (France). They have mapped out €1 billion in expected sales by 2022 and 3,100 employees for the new operations headquartered in France.

UP­DAT­ED: NGM Bio takes leap for­ward in crowd­ed NASH field

South San Francisco-based NGM Bio may have underwhelmed with its interim analysis of a key cohort from a mid-stage NASH study last fall — but stellar topline data unveiled on Monday showed the compound induced significant signs of antifibrotic activity, NASH resolution and liver fat reduction, sending the company’s stock soaring.

There are an estimated 50+ companies focused on developing drugs for non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH, a common liver disease that has long flummoxed researchers. The first wave of NASH drug developers struggled with efficacy as well as safety — and companies big and small have crashed and burned.

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Mickey Kertesz, KidsandArtOrg via YouTube

Soft­Bank's newest, $165M biotech in­vest­ment looks for in­fec­tious traces in the blood

SoftBank has found its newest biotech investment.

The Japanese bank has invested $165 million into Karius, a company that uses blood tests to diagnose infectious diseases, as part of its new Vision Fund 2. The full scope of the new fund has yet to be announced, but the first and newly-beleaguered Vision Fund poured $100 billion into technology companies, including the biotechs Vir Biotechnology and Roivant and the sequencing company 10x Genomics.

Methicillin-resistant Staph aureus (Shutterstock)

FDA grants ‘break­through’ sta­tus to an­tibi­ot­ic al­ter­na­tive as Con­tra­Fect rush­es to join fight against su­per­bug

An experimental drug that promises to be the first anti-infective agent to prove superior to vancomycin — an antibiotic approved in 1958 — has notched the FDA’s “breakthrough” status.

ContraFect said the designation was based on Phase II data in which exebacase was tested against a superbug known as methicillin-resistant Staph aureus, or MRSA. In a subgroup analysis, the clinical responder rate at day 14 was 42.8% higher than that among those treated with standard of care, the company said (p=0.010).

Zhong Nanshan, CGTN via YouTube

Har­vard joins coro­n­avirus fight with $115 mil­lion and a high-pro­file Chi­nese part­ner

For two months, as the novel coronavirus swelled from a few early cases tied to a Wuhan market to a global epidemic, most of the world’s focus and dollars have flowed toward emergency initiatives: building vaccines at a record pace, plucking experimental antivirals out of freezers to see what sticks and immunizing mice for new antibodies.

Now a new and well-funded collaboration between Harvard and a top Chinese research institute will play the long game. In a 5-year, $115 million initiative backed by China Evergrande Group, researchers from the Harvard Medical School, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Guangzhou Institute for Respiratory Health will study the virus in an effort to develop therapies against infections by the novel coronavirus, known as SARS–CoV-2, and to prevent new ones.

No­var­tis gets a boost in block­buster mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis race with Roche

In the first step of what’s likely to be a long and uphill battle for the drugmaker, the FDA has accepted Novartis’s BLA submission for a new multiple sclerosis drug and given it priority review. The PDUFA date for the potential blockbuster drug is in June.

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Juergen Horn

An­i­mal health vet Juer­gen Horn makes new an­ti­body play for pets, rak­ing $15M in Se­ries A haul

Zoetis forked over $85 million in 2017 to acquire Nexvet Biopharma and its pipeline of monoclonal antibodies. Juergen Horn, Nexvet’s former chief product development officer, has now secured $15 million for his own biologic company for animals: Invetx.

Buoyed by emerging advances in gene therapies for humans, scientists have started looking at harnessing the technology for animals setting up companies such as Penn-partnered Scout Bio and George Church-founded Rejuvenate Bio. But akin to Nexvet, Invetx is working on leveraging the time-tested science of monoclonal antibodies to treat chronic diseases that afflict man’s best friend.

As coro­n­avirus out­break reach­es 'tip­ping point,' GSK lends ad­ju­vant tech to Chi­nese part­ner armed with pre­clin­i­cal vac­cine

As the coronavirus originating out of Wuhan spreads to South Korea, Italy and Iran, stoking already intense fears of a pandemic, GlaxoSmithKline has found another pair of trusted hands to place its adjuvant system. China’s Clover Biopharmaceuticals will add the adjuvant to its preclinical, protein-based vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV-2.

Clover, which is based in the inland city of Chengdu, boasts of a platform dubbed Trimer-Tag that produces covalently-trimerized fusion proteins. Its candidate, COVID-19 S-Trimer, resembles the viral spike (S)-protein found in the virus.