Source: AP Images

In an­oth­er blow to In­ter­cept, the FDA is in­ves­ti­gat­ing Ocali­va for po­ten­tial risk of liv­er dis­or­der

Just a month be­fore hand­ing In­ter­cept Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals a CRL for Ocali­va in NASH, the FDA be­gan eval­u­at­ing the drug for a po­ten­tial risk of liv­er dis­or­der in pri­ma­ry bil­iary cholan­gi­tis (PBC) pa­tients. The probe, which launched in May, was dis­closed by the com­pa­ny deep down in their lat­est quar­ter­ly re­port filed with the SEC, and had not oth­er­wise been com­mu­ni­cat­ed pub­licly by In­ter­cept un­til re­ports sur­faced this week.

The FDA has no­ti­fied us that in the course of its rou­tine safe­ty sur­veil­lance, in May 2020 the FDA be­gan to eval­u­ate a new­ly iden­ti­fied safe­ty sig­nal re­gard­ing liv­er dis­or­der for Ocali­va which the FDA clas­si­fied as a po­ten­tial risk.

Ocali­va was ap­proved in 2016 to treat PBC, a chron­ic dis­ease that af­fects the liv­er’s bile ducts. In­ter­cept spokesman Christo­pher Frates said the biotech is work­ing with the FDA on what will like­ly be a 12-month eval­u­a­tion.

An FDA spokesper­son de­clined to of­fer any ad­di­tion­al in­for­ma­tion aside from what was post­ed in FAERS, the agency’s ad­verse event re­port­ing sys­tem, which states they are “eval­u­at­ing the need for reg­u­la­to­ry ac­tion.”

The probe is the lat­est blow to In­ter­cept in the last few months. In June, the FDA re­ject­ed its NDA for obeti­cholic acid, the ac­tive in­gre­di­ent in Ocali­va, for the treat­ment of NASH. In­ter­cept said reg­u­la­tors want­ed longer term da­ta from their Phase III tri­al to back the sur­ro­gate end­point, re­duc­tion in liv­er fi­bro­sis. Com­pa­ny ex­ec­u­tives ar­gued then that they were blind­sided.

CEO Mark Pruzan­s­ki had said in a state­ment:

At no point dur­ing the re­view did the FDA com­mu­ni­cate that OCA was not ap­prov­able on an ac­cel­er­at­ed ba­sis, and we strong­ly be­lieve that the to­tal­i­ty of da­ta sub­mit­ted to date both meet the re­quire­ments of the Agency’s own guid­ance and clear­ly sup­port the pos­i­tive ben­e­fit-risk pro­file of OCA.

In a Sep­tem­ber SEC fil­ing, In­ter­cept an­nounced that 170 jobs were on the chop­ping block, equal to rough­ly 25% of its staff, in or­der to save cash for its con­tin­ued pur­suit of NASH ap­proval. In­ter­cept shares were down 8% yes­ter­day when news of the FDA probe be­came wide­ly known. An in­vestor on Twit­ter first no­ticed the buried dis­clo­sure.

Back in 2018, the FDA slapped Ocali­va with a black box warn­ing, due to the drug be­ing “in­cor­rect­ly dosed” dai­ly in­stead of week­ly. “To en­sure cor­rect dos­ing and re­duce the risk of liv­er prob­lems, we are clar­i­fy­ing the cur­rent rec­om­men­da­tions for screen­ing, dos­ing, mon­i­tor­ing, and man­ag­ing PBC pa­tients with mod­er­ate to se­vere liv­er dis­ease tak­ing Ocali­va,” it an­nounced.

IDC: Life Sci­ences Firms Must Em­brace Dig­i­tal Trans­for­ma­tion Now

Pre-pandemic, the life sciences industry had settled into a pattern. The average drug took 12 years and $2.9 billion to bring to market, and it was an acceptable mode of operations, according to Nimita Limaye, Research Vice President for Life Sciences R&D Strategy and Technology at IDC.

COVID-19 changed that, and served as a proof-of-concept for how technology can truly help life sciences companies succeed and grow, Limaye said. She recently spoke about industry trends at Egnyte’s Life Sciences Summit 2022. You should watch the entire session, free and on-demand, but here’s a brief recap of why she’s urging life sciences companies to embrace digital transformation.

Geoffrey Porges, new Schrödinger CFO

Long­time an­a­lyst Ge­of­frey Porges de­parts SVB to lead fi­nances at a drug dis­cov­ery shop

Geoffrey Porges has ended his two-decade run as a biotech analyst, as the former SVB Securities vice chair began as CFO of Schrödinger on Thursday.

The long-running analyst, who previously headed up vaccines marketing at Merck before the turn of the millennium, will lead the financial operations of the 700-employee company as Schrödinger broadens its focus from a drug discovery partner to also building out an in-house pipeline, with clinical trial No. 1 set to begin next quarter.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 148,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

FDA ap­proves one of the prici­est new treat­ments of all time — blue­bird's gene ther­a­py for be­ta tha­lassemia

The FDA on Wednesday approved the first gene therapy for a chronic condition — bluebird bio’s new Zynteglo (beti-cel) as a potentially curative treatment for those with transfusion-dependent thalassemia.

The thumbs-up from the FDA follows a unanimous adcomm vote in June, with outside experts pointing to extraordinary efficacy, with 89% of subjects with TDT who received beti-cel having achieved transfusion independence.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 148,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

James Sabry, Roche global head of pharma partnering

Roche, Genen­tech plunk down $60M up­front to part­ner with Chi­nese phar­ma on PRO­TAC-based prostate can­cer drug

Roche and Genentech are always on the hunt for deals, and on Thursday they found their newest partner.

The pair will team up with the Chinese pharma company Jemincare to push forward a new program for prostate cancer, the companies announced. Roche is ponying up $60 million upfront to get its hands on the candidate and promising up to $590 million in biobucks, plus royalties, down the line.

In return, Genentech will get a worldwide license to develop the program, known as JMKX002992, and bring it to market.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 148,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Andrew Hopkins, Exscientia CEO

Ex­sci­en­tia ter­mi­nates Bay­er pact half a year ear­ly, col­lect­ing small por­tion of €240M promised

Bayer and Exscientia are winding down their three-year collaboration, leaving the big German pharma to take the AI-designed compounds born out of the pact further.

London-based Exscientia revealed in its Q2 update that the partners have “mutually agreed to end” their collaboration, which kicked off in early 2020, after recently achieving a drug discovery milestone. In an SEC filing, Exscientia said it terminated the pact on May 30, about six months early.

Bayer's first DTC ad campaign for chronic kidney disease drug Kerendia spells out its benefits

Bay­er aims to sim­pli­fy the com­plex­i­ties of CKD with an ABC-themed ad cam­paign

Do you know the ABCs of CKD in T2D? Bayer’s first ad campaign for Kerendia tackles the complexity of chronic kidney disease with a play on the acronym (CKD) and its connection to type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Kerendia was approved last year as the first and only non-steroidal mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist to treat CKD in people with type 2 diabetes.

In the TV commercial launched this week, A is for awareness, B is for belief and C is for cardiovascular, explained in the ad as awareness of the connection between type 2 and kidney disease, belief that something can be done about it, and cardiovascular events that may be reduced with treatment.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 148,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

James Mock, incoming CFO at Moderna

Mod­er­na taps new CFO from PerkinElmer af­ter for­mer one-day CFO oust­ed

When Moderna hired a new CFO last year,  it didn’t expect to see him gone after only one day. Today the biotech named his — likely much more vetted — replacement.

The mRNA company put out word early Wednesday that after the untimely departure of then brand-new CFO Jorge Gomez, it has now found a replacement in James Mock, the soon-to-be former CFO at diagnostics and analytics company PerkinElmer.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 148,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF’s supply division

GSK lands first-ever UNICEF con­tract for malar­ia vac­cine worth $170M

GSK has landed a new first from UNICEF the first-ever contract for malaria vaccines, worth up to $170 million for 18 million vaccine doses distributed over the next three years.

The vaccine, known as Mosquirix or RTS,S, won WHO’s backing last October after a controversial start, but UNICEF said these doses will potentially save thousands of lives every year.

“We hope this is just the beginning,” Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF’s supply division, said. “Continued innovation is needed to develop new and next-generation vaccines to increase available supply, and enable a healthier vaccine market. This is a giant step forward in our collective efforts to save children’s lives and reduce the burden of malaria as part of wider malaria prevention and control programmes.”

Joe Jonas (Photo by Anthony Behar/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

So­lo Jonas broth­er car­ries Merz's new tune in Botox ri­val cam­paign

As the lyrics of his band’s 2019 pop-rock single suggest, Joe Jonas is only human — and that means even he gets frown lines. The 33-year-old singer-songwriter is Merz’s newest celebrity brand partner for its Botox rival Xeomin, as medical aesthetics brands target a younger audience.

Merz kicked off its “Beauty on Your Terms” campaign on Tuesday, featuring the Jonas brother in a video ad for its double-filtered anti-wrinkle injection Xeomin.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 148,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.