In a first for deuter­at­ed drugs, FDA (fi­nal­ly) OKs Te­va’s would-be Hunt­ing­ton’s block­buster Auste­do

Ten months af­ter the FDA put Te­va’s would-be block­buster deutetra­benazine on hold af­ter rais­ing some sus­pi­cions re­gard­ing cer­tain metabo­lites found in pa­tients, the FDA has giv­en the drug an OK for Hunt­ing­ton’s chorea.

Michael Hay­den, Te­va

This is a first FDA ap­proval in the world of deuter­at­ed drugs, which tweaks ther­a­pies so that they break down more slow­ly in pa­tients. That way you can use a low­er dose to greater ef­fect. In this case the drug is a small mol­e­cule in­hibitor of vesic­u­lar monoamine 2 trans­porter, or VMAT2, which is de­signed to reg­u­late the lev­els of dopamine in the brain.

The drug will be sold as Auste­do. Te­va shares $TE­VA surged 2.2% Mon­day evening.

A star-crossed Te­va paid $3.5 bil­lion to ac­quire Aus­pex for this drug two years ago, sup­pos­ed­ly set­ting up a slap shot at the first reg­u­la­to­ry OK. That ap­proval was very slow com­ing, but the pay­off has fi­nal­ly ar­rived.

The big draw­back in the ap­proval is that it came with a black box warn­ing on de­pres­sion and sui­ci­dal­i­ty. But­Te­va al­so wast­ed no time in tack­ling the mar­ket with an ag­gres­sive price point. Ja­son Ger­ber­ry at Leerink not­ed:

While physi­cians will titrate Auste­do, the av­er­age dosage is ex­pect­ed to be 24mg per day which TE­VA priced at $60,000 for a year of ther­a­py and is be­low the list price of (Valeant’s) brand Xe­nazine ($152K) and gener­ic tetra­benazine ($96K). We view tonight’s up­date as a pos­i­tive, elim­i­nat­ing any lin­ger­ing con­cerns around deep­er is­sues with the CRL (com­plete re­sponse let­ter) that de­layed Auste­do ap­proval. We cur­rent­ly fore­cast $850m in 2023E Auste­do sales.

Sev­er­al new drugs have now been re­leased with dis­count pric­ing, un­der­scor­ing a new, harsh­er en­vi­ron­ment on high drug prices.

Te­va has al­so been push­ing this drug along for tar­dive dysk­i­ne­sia, though its mixed batch of late-stage da­ta spurred some an­a­lysts to sing the prais­es of a com­pet­ing drug from Neu­ro­crine. Eval­u­atePhar­ma has tagged this drug as a po­ten­tial block­buster, with a shot at earn­ing slight­ly more than a bil­lion dol­lars a year — though that kind of cash won’t come eas­i­ly.

Still, the FDA ap­proval marks a big win for Te­va, which has been un­der the gun for years now. Cur­rent­ly be­ing re­struc­tured, the CEO de­part­ed re­cent­ly as Te­va’s gener­ic busi­ness is as­sault­ed by low­er prices and its brand­ed di­vi­sion en­dured a lengthy drought in R&D.

The ap­proval al­so marks a big plus for Con­cert Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals $CNCE, which has been la­bor­ing at deuter­at­ing drugs with the heavy hy­dro­gen for years now.

Hunt­ing­ton’s, a lethal neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­ease, is char­ac­ter­ized by harsh, repet­i­tive twist­ing and writhing as­so­ci­at­ed with chorea.

“Chorea is a ma­jor symp­tom for many liv­ing with Hunt­ing­ton dis­ease. It im­pacts pa­tients’ func­tion­al­i­ty and ac­tiv­i­ties of dai­ly liv­ing, and there have been lim­it­ed treat­ment op­tions for these pa­tients,” said Michael Hay­den, the CSO at Te­va. “Based on the re­sults demon­strat­ed in the clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment pro­gram which sup­port­ed the ap­proval of AUSTE­DO and our on­go­ing com­mit­ment to pa­tients, we feel unique­ly po­si­tioned to bring this treat­ment op­tion for­ward.”

Ryan Watts, Denali CEO

Bio­gen hands De­nali $1B-plus in cash, $1B-plus in mile­stones to part­ner on late-stage Parkin­son’s drug

Biogen is handing over more than a billion dollars cash to partner with the up-and-coming neurosciences crew at Denali on a new therapy for Parkinson’s. And the big biotech is ready to pile on more than a billion dollars more in milestones — if the alliance is a success.

For Biogen $BIIB, the move on Denali’s small molecule inhibitors of LRRK2 puts them in line to collaborate on a late-stage program for DNL151, which is scheduled to start next year.

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Michel Vounatsos, Biogen CEO (via YouTube)

UP­DAT­ED: Bio­gen scores a pri­or­i­ty re­view for its Alzheimer's drug ad­u­canum­ab, mov­ing one gi­ant leap for­ward in its con­tro­ver­sial quest

Biogen scored a big win at the FDA today as regulators accepted their application for the controversial Alzheimer’s drug aducanumab and gave it a priority review.

The PDUFA date is March 7, 2021.

Significantly, Biogen says it did not use its priority review voucher to win special treatment at the FDA. The agency handed that out gratis.

That’s the ideal scenario Biogen was looking for as disappointed analysts wondered aloud about the delayed application earlier in the year.

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Bio­haven adds near­ly $1B in Nurtec deals with Roy­al­ty Phar­ma, Sixth Street

Biohaven just added nearly $1 billion to their balance sheet.

On Friday morning, the neuroscience biotech announced a pair of creative agreements with Royalty Pharma and the investment firm Sixth Street to bolster the commercial launch of their new migraine drug, Nurtec. Biohaven will sell a sliver of its royalties on Nurtec and 3% of the royalties on their experimental migraine drug zavegepant to Royalty Pharma as part of a larger agreeement that will pay $450 million. At the same time, the company announced they took out a $500 million loan from Sixth Street.

Ab­b­Vie set­tles in­sur­ance fraud suit, agrees to tweak nurse am­bas­sador pro­gram; CStone aims for NSCLC OK with pos­i­tive PhI­II da­ta

AbbVie has resolved a California lawsuit alleging insurance fraud in the promotion of its cash cow Humira, paying $24 million to settle things with the state’s insurance regulator.

The settlement comes almost four years after a whistleblower first reported AbbVie’s practice of deploying registered nurses to visit patients at home or call them by phone to ensure that Humira prescriptions are filled. AbbVie was also charged with providing illegal kickbacks to doctors in an attempt to encourage them to prescribe Humira for a range of anti-inflammatory diseases.

Per­cep­tive fields SPAC #3 as an­oth­er group of biotechs scoops up $364M in lat­est Nas­daq romp

There’s no sign that the windfall of cash dropping biotech’s way on Wall Street is abating. Three more biopharmas priced IPOs on Thursday and Friday morning, riding a historic boom with a $364 million payoff.

London-based biotech Freeline Therapeutics took home the lion’s share of the cash with $159 million after pricing 8,823,529 shares at $18 a pop. Checkmate Pharmaceuticals, of Cambridge, MA, raised $75 million with an offer of 5 million shares at $15 — right at the midpoint of its range. And Arya Sciences Acquisition Corp III, the third in a series from Perceptive, priced 13,000,000 shares at $10 per share.

President Trump (AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: FDA takes the lead on defin­ing es­sen­tial un­der Trump's 'Buy Amer­i­can' ex­ec­u­tive or­der — as phar­ma warns of sup­ply chain dis­rup­tion

President Donald Trump has signed an executive order detailing how the federal government should help on-shore drug manufacturing — and the FDA will play a central role.

The agency now has three months to draw up the list of “essential medicines, medical countermeasures, and their critical inputs” that the US must have available at all times. Various departments and agencies are then directed to buy these drugs and their ingredients from American manufacturers.

Covid-19 roundup: Gates Foun­da­tion pours $150M in­to In­dia’s Serum In­sti­tute; Pfiz­er teams with Gilead on remde­sivir

By CEO and scion Adar Poonawalla’s estimation, the Serum Institute in India has already poured hundreds of millions of dollars into scaling up the unproven Covid-19 vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford for use in low and middle income countries. It’s meant taking on a risk that other companies, including AstraZeneca, have mitigated with huge amounts of government funding.

Now, for the first time, Poonawalla is getting some outside help. The Gates Foundation has agreed to pay the institute $150 million to supply 100 million vaccines to India and other emerging economies next year, Reuters reported. That includes both the vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and the one being developed by Novavax. Those vaccines will be available in 92 countries and be priced at $3 per dose.

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Alex­ion cre­ates new post for chief di­ver­si­ty of­fi­cer; Bar­ry Greene step­ping down at Al­ny­lam, Yvonne Green­street named as suc­ces­sor

Alexion has carved out a new position for chief diversity officer and filled it with an inside promotion.

Uzair Qadeer will now be responsible for their “diversity, inclusion and belonging” strategy, looking to reshape the biotech’s corporate culture. A veteran of Deloitte and Bristol Myers Squibb, Qadeer was working on executive coaching and helping create the diversity program he now leads.

President Trump speaks with members of the media before boarding Marine One (AP Images)

'Oc­to­ber is com­ing,' and every­one still wants to know if a Covid-19 vac­cine will be whisked through the FDA ahead of the elec­tion

Right on the heels of a lengthy assurance from FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn that the agency will not rush through a quick approval for a Covid-19 vaccine, the President of the United States has some thoughts on timing he’d like to share.

In an exchange with Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera on Thursday, President Trump allowed that a vaccine could be ready to roll “sooner than the end of the year, could be much sooner.”

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