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.

Biotech Half­time Re­port: Af­ter a bumpy year, is biotech ready to re­bound?

The biotech sector has come down firmly from the highs of February as negative sentiment takes hold. The sector had a major boost of optimism from the success of the COVID-19 vaccines, making investors keenly aware of the potential of biopharma R&D engines. But from early this year, clinical trial, regulatory and access setbacks have reminded investors of the sector’s inherent risks.

RBC Capital Markets recently surveyed investors to take the temperature of the market, a mix of specialists/generalists and long-only/ long-short investment strategies. Heading into the second half of the year, investors mostly see the sector as undervalued (49%), a large change from the first half of the year when only 20% rated it as undervalued. Around 41% of investors now believe that biotech will underperform the S&P500 in the second half of 2021. Despite that view, 54% plan to maintain their position in the market and 41% still plan to increase their holdings.

Covid-19 vac­cine boost­ers earn big thumbs up, but Mod­er­na draws ire over world sup­ply; What's next for Mer­ck’s Covid pill?; The C-suite view on biotech; 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.

You may remember that at the beginning of this year, Endpoints News set a goal to go broader and deeper. We are still working towards that, and are excited to share that Beth Snyder Bulik will be joining us on Monday to cover all things pharma marketing. You can sign up for her weekly Endpoints MarketingRx newsletter in your reader profile.

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Roche's Tecen­triq cross­es the fin­ish line first in ad­ju­vant lung can­cer, po­ten­tial­ly kick­ing off gold rush

While falling behind the biggest PD-(L)1 drugs in terms of sales, Roche has looked to carve out a space for its Tecentriq with a growing expertise in lung cancer. The drug will now take an early lead in the sought-after adjuvant setting — but competitors are on the way.

The FDA on Friday approved Tecentriq as an adjuvant therapy for patients with Stage II-IIIA non small cell lung cancer with PD-(L)1 scores greater than or equal to 1, making it the first drug of its kind approved in an early setting that covers around 40% of all NSCLC patients.

No­var­tis de­vel­op­ment chief John Tsai: 'We go deep in the new plat­form­s'

During our recent European Biopharma Summit, I talked with Novartis development chief John Tsai about his experiences over the 3-plus years he’s been at the pharma giant. You can read the transcript below or listen to the exchange in the link above.

John Carroll: I followed your career for quite some time. You’ve had more than 20 years in big pharma R&D and you’ve obviously seen quite a lot. I really was curious about what it was like for you three and a half years ago when you took over as R&D chief at Novartis. Obviously a big move, a lot of changes. You went to work for the former R&D chief of Novartis, Vas Narasimhan, who had his own track record there. So what was the biggest adjustment when you went into this position?

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Amit Etkin, Alto Neuroscience CEO (Alto via Vimeo)

A star Stan­ford pro­fes­sor leaves his lab for a start­up out to re­make psy­chi­a­try

About five years ago, Amit Etkin had a breakthrough.

The Stanford neurologist, a soft-spoken demi-prodigy who became a professor while still a resident, had been obsessed for a decade with how to better define psychiatric disorders. Drugs for depression or bipolar disorder didn’t work for many patients with the conditions, and he suspected the reason was how traditional diagnoses didn’t actually get at the heart of what was going on in a patient’s brain.

Susan Galbraith, Executive VP, Oncology R&D, AstraZeneca

As­traZeneca on­col­o­gy R&D chief Su­san Gal­braith: 'Y­ou're go­ing to need or­thog­o­nal com­bi­na­tion­s'

 

Earlier in the week we broadcast our 4th annual European Biopharma Summit with a great lineup of top execs. One of the one-on-one conversations I set up was with Susan Galbraith, the oncology research chief at AstraZeneca. In a wide-ranging discussion, Galbraith reviewed the cancer drug pipeline and key trends influencing development work at the pharma giant. You can watch the video, above, or stick with the script below. — JC

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FDA ad­comm votes unan­i­mous­ly in sup­port of a J&J Covid-19 boost­er two months af­ter one-dose shot

The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) on Friday voted 19-0 in favor of authorizing a second shot of J&J’s Covid-19 vaccine to follow at least two months after the initial dose.

Regulators don’t have to follow VRBPAC’s recommendation, but they almost always do. Considering that the CDC’s advisory committee has already been set to review the expanded EUA, VRBPAC’s recommendation is likely to be adopted.

Jacob Van Naarden, Senior VP, CEO of Loxo Oncology at Lilly; President, Lilly Oncology

Eli Lil­ly bags FDA nod for Verzenio in ear­ly breast can­cer, but a con­tro­ver­sial di­ag­nos­tic could dog its roll­out

As Eli Lilly works to consolidate its internal and Loxo teams into an oncology powerhouse, the drug giant is putting high hopes on CDK 4/6 inhibitor Verzenio to help drive the portfolio into the future. Now, the drug has scored a paradigm-altering win in early breast cancer — but will a controversial companion diagnostic hamstring Lilly’s market plans?

The FDA on Wednesday approved CDK 4/6 inhibitor Verzenio in combination with physician’s-choice endocrine therapy to cut the risk of relapse in patients with high-risk HR-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer, Lilly said in a release.

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As TRIPS coun­cil meets, the IP waiv­er for vac­cines is on life sup­port ahead of a De­cem­ber dead­line

The WTO’s TRIPS Council is meeting today and tomorrow to discuss a Covid-19 vaccine IP waiver that remains divisive and unlikely to be adopted thanks to European opposition, but which proponents still think could unlock more vaccine doses for low and middle-income countries.

Following the meetings this week, it’s expected there will be a better sense if some kind of waiver can be agreed to by December, Tahir Amin, an IP lawyer and co-executive director of I-Mak, told Endpoints News.