J&J fi­nal­izes $25M set­tle­ment, lay­ing Rem­i­cade an­titrust al­le­ga­tions to rest

A Penn­syl­va­nia fed­er­al judge on Wednes­day ce­ment­ed a $25 mil­lion set­tle­ment in a class ac­tion suit al­leg­ing John­son & John­son blocked biosim­i­lar com­pe­ti­tion to its im­muno­sup­pres­sive drug Rem­i­cade.

First ap­proved in 1998 for Crohn’s dis­ease, Rem­i­cade (a TNF in­hibitor bi­o­log­ic al­so known as in­flix­imab) has since been cleared in a slate of oth­er im­mune-me­di­at­ed con­di­tions, in­clud­ing ul­cer­a­tive col­i­tis, pso­ri­at­ic arthri­tis and rheuma­toid arthri­tis. How­ev­er, the year­ly cost for some pa­tients reach­es $26,000, ac­cord­ing to a com­plaint up­dat­ed in 2018.

De­spite the emer­gence of mul­ti­ple biosim­i­lars in the US — in­clud­ing Pfiz­er and Cell­tri­on’s In­flec­tra, and Mer­ck and Sam­sung Bioepis’ Ren­flex­is, now com­mer­cial­ized in part­ner­ship with Organon af­ter its spin­out — plain­tiffs ar­gued that J&J used its mo­nop­oly pow­er to sup­press com­pe­ti­tion and “forced health in­sur­ance com­pa­nies and health­care providers to en­ter in­to ex­clu­sion­ary agree­ments that ef­fec­tive­ly blocked com­pe­ti­tion for Rem­i­cade, thus caus­ing Plain­tiffs and mem­bers of the Class­es (as de­fined be­low) to over­pay on their in­flix­imab pur­chas­es.”

“These acts, each an­ti­com­pet­i­tive on their own, were mag­ni­fied when used in con­cert and all served to main­tain J&J’s stran­gle­hold on the mar­ket, main­tain its grasp on the near­ly $5 bil­lion an­nu­al mar­ket for the med­ica­tion, and shut out would-be com­peti­tors whose en­trance in­to the mar­ket would nat­u­ral­ly cause prices for the im­por­tant drug to de­cline,” a com­plaint reads.

J&J set­tled a sep­a­rate case with Pfiz­er back in 2021, which ar­gued that J&J’s “ex­clu­sion­ary plan has been re­mark­ably ef­fec­tive at sti­fling com­pe­ti­tion.” At the time, in­flix­imab biosim­i­lars con­trolled just 25% of the US mar­ket, ac­cord­ing to an in­vestor note from then-Bern­stein biotech an­a­lyst Ron­ny Gal.

While J&J de­nies wrong­do­ing in the lat­est class ac­tion case, Judge Karen Marston fi­nal­ized a $25 mil­lion set­tle­ment Wednes­day dis­miss­ing the case with prej­u­dice. The class in­cludes “per­sons and en­ti­ties in the Unit­ed States and its ter­ri­to­ries who in­di­rect­ly pur­chased, paid and/or pro­vid­ed re­im­burse­ment for some or all of the pur­chase price of De­fen­dants’ in­flix­imab from April 5, 2016 through Feb­ru­ary 28, 2022,” Marston con­clud­ed.

In ap­prov­ing the set­tle­ment, Marston al­so over­ruled the ob­jec­tions of one pa­tient who ar­gued that the set­tle­ment fig­ure was “un­rea­son­ably low.” She award­ed the class coun­sel $7 mil­lion in at­tor­ney’s fees, and near­ly $2.3 mil­lion in “out-of-pock­et ex­pens­es in­curred in the pros­e­cu­tion of this ac­tion.” Two groups, the Na­tion­al Em­ploy­ees Health Plan and the Lo­cal 295 Em­ploy­er Group Wel­fare Fund, re­ceived $15,000 and $15,600, re­spec­tive­ly, as class rep­re­sen­ta­tive ser­vice awards.

Rem­i­cade brought in $2.3 bil­lion in world­wide sales last year, down rough­ly 26% from the year pri­or, ac­cord­ing to J&J’s lat­est earn­ings re­port.

“Janssen has long been sup­port­ive of a ro­bust, com­pet­i­tive en­vi­ron­ment for bi­o­log­ics, in­clud­ing biosim­i­lars. This set­tle­ment re­solves all of the pri­vate lit­i­ga­tion on this mat­ter,” Janssen said in a state­ment via email.

Ed­i­tor’s Note: This sto­ry has been up­dat­ed to in­clude com­ment from Janssen, and to clar­i­fy that Organon is now Sam­sung’s com­mer­cial part­ner for Ren­flex­is, fol­low­ing its spin­out from Mer­ck.

Forge Bi­o­log­ics’ cGMP Com­pli­ant and Com­mer­cial­ly Vi­able Be­spoke Affin­i­ty Chro­matog­ra­phy Plat­form

Forge Biologics has developed a bespoke affinity chromatography platform approach that factors in unique vector combinations to streamline development timelines and assist our clients in efficiently entering the clinic. By leveraging our experience with natural and novel serotypes and transgene conformations, we are able to accelerate affinity chromatography development by nearly 3-fold. Many downstream purification models are serotype-dependent, demanding unique and time-consuming development strategies for each AAV gene therapy product1. With the increasing demand to propel AAV gene therapies to market, platform purification methods that support commercial-scale manufacturing of high-quality vectors with excellent safety and efficacy profiles are essential.

Lu­pus drug de­vel­op­ment mar­ket heat­ing up, while FDA links with ad­vo­ca­cy group to fur­ther ac­cel­er­ate re­search

The long-underserved systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) market is suddenly buzzing with treatment possibilities. Less than two years after AstraZeneca’s approval for Saphnelo — the first new SLE drug in a decade and joining just one other approved in GSK’s Benlysta – the pipeline of potential drugs numbers in the dozens.

Although most are very early stage — Spherix Global Insights estimates five in Phase II/III — the pharma R&D enthusiasm is catching on among doctors, patients and advocacy groups. On Wednesday, the Lupus Research Alliance and the FDA formed a novel private-public partnership called Lupus Accelerating Breakthroughs Consortium (Lupus ABC) to help advance lupus clinical trial success.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 163,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Mass­a­chu­setts judge dis­miss­es law­suit against Bio­gen over failed launch of Alzheimer's drug Aduhelm

A Massachusetts federal judge on Wednesday dismissed a class action lawsuit filed by investors against Biogen and several of its current and former executives over the company’s failed Alzheimer’s drug, Aduhelm (aducanumab).

The investors argued that Biogen’s contact with the FDA was unlawful and that the company made 25 false and misleading statements, including statements about the rollout and price of the drug.

Stéphane Bancel, Moderna CEO (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Mod­er­na so­lid­i­fies deal with Kenya to build mR­NA man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ty

The mRNA player Moderna is further cementing its presence on the African continent.

Moderna announced on Thursday that it has finalized an agreement with Kenya’s government to partner up and bring an mRNA manufacturing facility to the east African nation. The new facility aims to manufacture up to 500 million doses of vaccines annually. Moderna also said the new facility will have the ability to spike its production capabilities to respond to public health emergencies on the continent or globally.

Af­ter safe­ty re­view, EMA mir­rors FDA with up­dat­ed rec­om­men­da­tions for JAK in­hibitors

The EMA released updated recommendations today for the use of JAK inhibitors (JAKi) after reviewing data from several clinical trials that showed increased incidents of issues in certain patients who have rheumatoid arthritis and other risk factors.

The EMA noted malignancy, major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE), serious infections, venous thromboembolism (VTE) and mortality in some patients.

Luke Miels, GSK chief commercial officer

GSK picks up Scynex­is' FDA-ap­proved an­ti­fun­gal drug for $90M up­front

GSK is dishing out $90 million cash to add an antifungal drug to its commercial portfolio, in a deal spotlighting the pharma giant’s growing focus on infectious diseases.

The upfront will lock in an exclusive license to Scynexis’ Brexafemme, which was approved in 2021 to treat a yeast infection known as vulvovaginal candidiasis, except in China and certain other countries where Scynexis already out-licensed the drug.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 163,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Ribbon cutting ceremony for Thermo Fisher's new cell therapy manufacturing site in San Francisco

Ther­mo Fish­er moves on cam­pus with new cell man­u­fac­tur­ing site in San Fran­cis­co

Thermo Fisher Scientific is putting down more roots in the Bay Area.

The manufacturer opened the doors to a new cell therapy manufacturing facility next to the University of California-San Francisco Medical Center’s Mission Bay campus and on the university’s campus.

UCSF and Thermo Fisher have had a partnership since 2021, with the new site focusing on manufacturing cell therapeutics for certain cancers, including glioblastoma and multiple myeloma. The new site plans to use Thermo Fisher’s expertise in manufacturing services to help UCSF accelerate the development of cell therapies and eventually get them into the clinic, said Dan Herring, the general manager of cell therapy services at Thermo Fisher, in an interview with Endpoints News.

Feng Zhang (Susan Walsh/AP Images)

In search of new way to de­liv­er gene ed­i­tors, CRISPR pi­o­neer turns to mol­e­c­u­lar sy­ringes

Bug bacteria are ruthless.

Some soil bacteria have evolved tiny, but deadly injection systems that attach to insect cells, perforate them and release toxins inside — killing a bug in just a few days’ time. Scientists, on the other hand, want to leverage that system to deliver medicines.

In a paper published Wednesday in Nature, MIT CRISPR researcher Feng Zhang and his lab describe how they engineered these syringes made by bacteria to deliver potential therapies like toxins that kill cancer cells and gene editors. With the help of an AI program, they developed syringes that can load proteins of their choice and selectively target human cells.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 163,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

CSL CEO Paul McKenzie (L) and CMO Bill Mezzanotte

Q&A: New­ly-mint­ed CSL chief ex­ec­u­tive Paul McKen­zie and chief med­ical of­fi­cer Bill Mez­zan­otte

Paul McKenzie took over as CEO of Australian pharma giant CSL this month, following in the footsteps of long-time CSL vet Paul Perreault.

With an eye on mRNA, and quickly commercializing its new, $3.5 million-per-shot gene therapy for hemophilia B, McKenzie and chief medical officer Bill Mezzanotte answered some questions from Endpoints News this afternoon about where McKenzie is going to take the company and what advances may be coming to market from CSL’s pipeline. Below is a lightly edited transcript.