J&J adds PhI­II hy­per­ten­sion drug to the pipeline with $230M-plus cash deal for Idor­sia

J&J is adding a $230 mil­lion bonus deal to its $30 bil­lion buy­out of Acte­lion.

The phar­ma gi­ant just snagged com­mer­cial­iza­tion rights on aproci­ten­tan (ACT-132577), which scored promis­ing Phase II da­ta for treat­ment re­sis­tant hy­per­ten­sion. Poised at the launch of a Phase III tri­al, J&J is hand­ing over $160 mil­lion in cash and will fol­low up with a se­ries of pay­ments with the rest com­ing in in­stall­ments over the next three and a half years.

J&J lined up this deal as Idor­sia was spun out of Acte­lion af­ter the phar­ma gi­ant snagged the Swiss com­pa­ny’s drug port­fo­lio. In ad­di­tion to the hefty cash com­mit­ment for this late-stage drug, J&J al­so signed off on a deal to pay out roy­al­ties rang­ing from 20% to 35% from sales. And the phar­ma gi­ant al­so lands rights to any de­riv­a­tive prod­ucts that comes out of the hy­per­ten­sion pro­gram.

Mar­tine Clozel

J&J and Idor­sia will now share late-stage re­search costs, adding a new Phase III drug to the Janssen pipeline.

Idor­sia re­port­ed last May that aproci­ten­tan hit marks for sta­tis­ti­cal sig­nif­i­cance in their dose-rang­ing study. Re­searchers found that af­ter 8 weeks of ther­a­py the “mean re­duc­tion from base­line in di­as­tolic blood pres­sure – as mea­sured at trough with a nov­el au­to­mat­ed of­fice blood pres­sure de­vice – was be­tween 6.3 and 12.0 mmHg in a sta­tis­ti­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant dose-de­pen­dent man­ner for the ACT-132577 groups ver­sus a de­crease of 4.9 mmHg in the place­bo group and a de­crease of 8.4 mmHg in the lisino­pril group (in the per-pro­to­col pop­u­la­tion com­prised of 410 pa­tients). Sys­tolic blood pres­sure re­duc­tions ranged from 10.3 to 18.5 mmHg in a sta­tis­ti­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant dose-de­pen­dent man­ner in the ACT-132577 groups and were 7.7 and 12.8 mmHg in the place­bo and lisino­pril groups, re­spec­tive­ly.”

Idor­sia was launched with a hot stock on the Swiss ex­change (SWX: IDIA}, ini­tial­ly priced around the con­sid­er­able cash it was giv­en. Shares have more than dou­bled since the spin­out oc­curred.

Mar­tine Clozel, the CSO at In­dor­sia and the wife of CEO Jean-Paul Clozel, had this to say:

With this de­ci­sion, Janssen has rec­og­nized the po­ten­tial of aproci­ten­tan, the lat­est prod­uct from a re­search ef­fort that was ini­ti­at­ed near­ly 30 years ago and re­sult­ed in a broad un­der­stand­ing of the en­dothe­lin sys­tem and two en­dothe­lin re­cep­tor an­tag­o­nists on the mar­ket. Aproci­ten­tan can be en­vi­sioned to have many oth­er po­ten­tial ap­pli­ca­tions, in ad­di­tion to hy­per­ten­sion. This makes the col­lab­o­ra­tion with Janssen even more mean­ing­ful for us.

Biotech and Big Phar­ma: A blue­print for a suc­cess­ful part­ner­ship

Strategic partnerships have long been an important contributor to how drugs are discovered and developed. For decades, big pharma companies have been forming alliances with biotech innovators to increase R&D productivity, expand geographical reach and better manage late-stage commercialization costs.

Noël Brown, Managing Director and Head of Biotechnology Investment Banking, and Greg Wiederrecht, Ph.D., Managing Director in the Global Healthcare Investment Banking Group at RBC Capital Markets, are no strangers to the importance of these tie-ups. Noël has over 20 years of investment banking experience in the industry. Before moving to the banking world in 2015, Greg was the Vice President and Head of External Scientific Affairs (ESA) at Merck, where he was responsible for the scientific assessment of strategic partnership opportunities worldwide.

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How Chi­na turned the ta­bles on bio­phar­ma's glob­al deal­mak­ing

Fenlai Tan still gets chills thinking about the darkest day of his life.

Three out of eight lung cancer patients who received a tyrosine kinase inhibitor developed by his company, Betta Pharma, died in the span of a month. Tan, the chief medical officer, was summoned to Peking Union Medical College Hospital, where the head of the clinical trial department told him that the trial investigators would be conducting an autopsy to see if the patients had died of the disease — they were all very sick by the time they enrolled — or of interstitial lung disease, a deadly side effect tied to the TKI class that’s been reported in Japan.

No­var­tis' sec­ond at­tempt to repli­cate a stun­ning can­cer re­sult falls flat

Novartis’ hopes of turning one of the most surprising trial data points of the last decade into a lung cancer drug has taken another setback.

The Swiss pharma announced Monday that its IL-1 inhibitor canakinumab did not significantly extend the lives or slow the disease progression of patients with previously untreated locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer when compared to standard of-care alone.

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No­var­tis dumps AveX­is pro­gram for Rett syn­drome af­ter fail­ing re­peat round of pre­clin­i­cal test­ing

Say goodbye to AVXS-201.

The Rett syndrome gene therapy drug made by AveXis — the biotech that was bought, kept separate, then renamed and finally absorbed by Novartis into its R&D division — has been dropped by the biopharma.

In Novartis’ third quarter financial report, the pharma had found that preclinical data did not support development of the gene therapy into IND-enabling trials and beyond. The announcement comes a year after Novartis told the Rett Society how excited it was by the drug — and its potential benefits and uses.

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Peter Nell, Mammoth Biosciences CBO

UP­DAT­ED: Jen­nifer Doud­na spin­out inks a Mam­moth CRISPR deal with Ver­tex worth near­ly $700M

When a company gets its start in gene editing pioneer Jennifer Doudna’s lab, it’s bound to make headlines. But three years in, the fanfare still hasn’t died down for Mammoth Biosciences. Now, the Brisbane, CA-based company is cheering on its first major R&D pact.

Mammoth unveiled a nearly $700 million deal with Vertex on Tuesday morning, good for the development of in vivo gene therapies for two mystery diseases. The stars of the show are Mammoth’s ultra-small CRISPR systems, including two Cas enzymes licensed from Doudna’s lab over the past couple years, Cas14 and Casɸ.

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AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot (Raphael Lafargue/Abaca/Sipa USA)

A com­bo of As­traZeneca's Imfinzi and chemo wins where oth­ers have failed in piv­otal bil­iary tract test

Looking to run with the big dogs in the PD-(L)1 class, AstraZeneca’s Imfinzi has a tall hill to climb to compete in an increasingly bustling market. An aggressive combo strategy for the drug has paid off so far, and now AstraZeneca is adding another notch to its belt.

A combo of Imfinzi (durvalumab) and chemotherapy significantly extended the lives of first-line patients with advanced biliary tract cancer over chemo alone, according to topline results from the Phase III TOPAZ-1 study revealed Monday.

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Sean Ianchulev, Eyenovia CEO and CMO

Re­cent court de­ci­sion push­es FDA to re­ject and re­clas­si­fy drug-de­vice com­bo, crush­ing shares

Back in April, the FDA lost a crucial court case in which its broad discretion of regulating medical products that might satisfy the legal definitions of either “drug” and/or “medical device” was sharply curtailed.

In addition to the appeals court ruling that Genus Medical Technologies’ contrast agent barium sulfate (aka Vanilla SilQ) should not be considered a drug, as the FDA had initially ruled, but as a medical device, the agency also was forced to spell out which drugs would transition to devices as a result of the ruling.

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An­gion's or­gan dam­age drug strikes out again, this time in high-risk kid­ney trans­plant pa­tients

After flopping a test in Covid-19 earlier this year, Angion’s lead organ damage drug has now hit the skids again in kidney transplant patients.

Angion and partner Vifor Pharma’s ANG-3777 failed to beat out placebo in terms of improving eGFR, a measure of kidney function, in patients who had received a deceased donor kidney transplant and were at high risk of developing what is known as delayed graft function, according to Phase III results released Tuesday.

(Photo courtesy Pfizer)

FDA's vac­cine ad­comm votes al­most unan­i­mous­ly in fa­vor of Pfiz­er's Covid-19 vac­cine for younger chil­dren

The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee on Tuesday voted 17-0, with one panelist abstaining, that the benefits of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine outweigh the risks for children between the ages of five and 12.

The vote will likely trigger a process that could allow the shots to begin rolling out as early as next week.

The vaccine, which is one-third of the adult Pfizer dose, proved to be about 90% effective in a placebo-controlled trial in which about 1,500 kids in this age range received the vaccine, and only about 12% of those receiving the vaccine had any adverse event. All serious adverse events in the trial were unrelated to the vaccine.