Janet Woodcock, acting FDA commissioner (AP Images)

Eli Lil­ly’s Covid-19 drug bam­lanivimab is no longer dis­trib­uted in 3 states be­cause of a vari­ant, Wood­cock says

The US gov­ern­ment is no longer dis­trib­ut­ing Eli Lil­ly’s bam­lanivimab in­to Cal­i­for­nia, Ari­zona and Neva­da be­cause of the preva­lence of a vi­ral vari­ant that is not sus­cep­ti­ble to the mon­o­clon­al an­ti­body, FDA act­ing com­mis­sion­er Janet Wood­cock told physi­cians tak­ing part in a we­bi­nar with the Amer­i­can Med­ical As­so­ci­a­tion on Wednes­day.

Wood­cock did not elab­o­rate fur­ther on the vari­ant or the de­ci­sion to halt the dis­tri­b­u­tion, but over­all, the FDA re­mains unique­ly po­si­tioned to screen the mon­o­clon­als against the dif­fer­ent vari­ants, Wood­cock added, and that’s been pre­dic­tive of how and where the treat­ments will work.

A Lil­ly spokesper­son told End­points News in a state­ment: “We rec­og­nize the U.S. gov­ern­ment has made the de­ci­sion to no longer al­low di­rect or­der­ing of bam­lanivimab alone in Cal­i­for­nia, Ari­zona and Neva­da due to con­cerns about the preva­lence of the ‘Cal­i­for­nia’ vari­ant, with the spe­cif­ic L452R sub­sti­tu­tion found in B.1.429/B.1.427 lin­eages (a.k.a. 20C/CAL.20C). Im­por­tant­ly, pre­clin­i­cal da­ta from our labs demon­strate that the com­bi­na­tion of bam­lanivimab and ete­se­vimab main­tains its neu­tral­iz­ing ef­fect against this vari­ant, specif­i­cal­ly.”

Over­all, Wood­cock ac­knowl­edged that the ini­tial roll­out of the mon­o­clon­al an­ti­bod­ies “wasn’t the great­est” be­cause it was cen­tered on a dis­tri­b­u­tion mod­el for Gilead’s an­tivi­ral remde­sivir, and “hos­pi­tals were in no po­si­tion to give out mon­o­clon­als.”

“We’re get­ting there but it’s tak­en quite a long time,” Wood­cock said in ref­er­ence to the mon­o­clon­al an­ti­bod­ies in the US. “Mass vac­ci­na­tion is hard enough but mass in­fu­sion is a re­al chal­lenge for our health care sys­tem.”

John Far­ley, di­rec­tor of the FDA’s of­fice of in­fec­tious dis­eases, said that the FDA ex­pects to soon broad­en the de­f­i­n­i­tion of who falls in­to the “high risk” cat­e­go­ry that de­ter­mines who can re­ceive the mon­o­clon­al an­ti­bod­ies.

“We know from the field that we would ben­e­fit by broad­en­ing this a bit and we’re ex­pect­ing to do that soon,” he said.

He al­so said that the three au­tho­rized mon­o­clon­al an­ti­bod­ies re­main ac­tive against the vari­ant orig­i­nat­ing in the UK, but there are “oth­er, more wor­ri­some vari­ants” and physi­cians should ex­pect to soon see more in­for­ma­tion on those.

As far as the wider ther­a­peu­tic land­scape for Covid-19, Wood­cock again not­ed the fact that just 5% of clin­i­cal tri­als for Covid-19 treat­ments were ad­e­quate­ly pow­ered and ran­dom­ized to pro­vide ac­tion­able da­ta.

“Low ac­cru­al rates and in­ad­e­quate pow­er mean that safe­ty and ef­fi­ca­cy da­ta will be un­in­ter­pretable,” she said. She al­so crit­i­cized the slow roll­out of the NIH-run tri­als for Covid-19 ther­a­peu­tics.

Over­all, she ex­plained some of the ma­jor chal­lenges that she saw as head of ther­a­peu­tics at Op­er­a­tion Warp Speed, and mov­ing for­ward, she dis­cussed what a ro­bust ecosys­tem for clin­i­cal tri­als in the US would look like.

The DCT-OS: A Tech­nol­o­gy-first Op­er­at­ing Sys­tem - En­abling Clin­i­cal Tri­als

As technology-enabled clinical research becomes the new normal, an integrated decentralized clinical trial operating system can ensure quality, deliver consistency and improve the patient experience.

The increasing availability of COVID-19 vaccines has many of us looking forward to a time when everyday things return to a state of normal. Schools and teachers are returning to classrooms, offices and small businesses are reopening, and there’s a palpable sense of optimism that the often-awkward adjustments we’ve all made personally and professionally in the last year are behind us, never to return. In the world of clinical research, however, some pandemic-necessitated adjustments are proving to be more than emergency stopgap measures to ensure trial continuity — and numerous decentralized clinical trial (DCT) tools and methodologies employed within the last year are likely here to stay as part of biopharma’s new normal.

'Chang­ing the whole game of drug dis­cov­ery': Leg­endary R&D vet Roger Perl­mut­ter leaps back in­to work as a biotech CEO

Roger Perlmutter needs no introduction to anyone remotely involved in biopharma. As the R&D chief first at Amgen and then Merck, he’s built a stellar reputation and a prolific career steering new drugs toward the market for everything from cancer to infectious diseases.

But for years, he’s also held a less known title: science partner at The Column Group, where he’s regularly consulted about the various ideas the VCs had for new startups.

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FDA ex­tends re­search agree­ment with MIT-li­censed or­gan-on-chip sys­tems

The FDA on Wednesday extended its four-year agreement with CN Bio, a developer of single- and multi-organ-on-chip systems used for drug discovery, for another three years.

CN Bio said the scope of the research performed by the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research has expanded to include the exploration of the company’s lung-on-a-chip system to help with the agency’s evaluation of inhaled drugs, in addition to the agency’s work on its liver model.

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In quest to meet user fee goals, FDA’s per­for­mance con­tin­ues down­ward trend

A recent update to the FDA’s running tally of how it’s meeting its user fee-related performance goals during the pandemic shows an agency that is not out of the woods yet.

The latest numbers reveal that for a second straight quarter in 2021, the FDA has met its user fee goal dates for 93% of original new drug applications, which compares with 94% and 98% for the previous two quarters in 2020, respectively.

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UP­DAT­ED: Pfiz­er hits the brakes on their piv­otal tri­al for a BC­MA/CD3 bis­pe­cif­ic on safe­ty con­cerns while FDA road­block is hold­ing up Duchenne MD PhI­II

Pfizer’s ambitious plan to take a Phase II study of its BCMA CD3-targeted bispecific antibody elranatamab (PF-06863135) and run it through to an accelerated approval has derailed.

The pharma giant said in a release this morning that they have halted enrollment for their MagnetisMM-3 study after researchers tracked three cases of peripheral neuropathy in the ongoing Phase I. They are now sharing info with the FDA as they explore the red safety flag.

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Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director general of WTO (AP Photo/Keystone/Alessandro Della Bella)

Opin­ion: Waiv­ing Covid-19 vac­cine IP could save lives, but where is the man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pac­i­ty?

Droves of House Democrats in Washington and members of the European Parliament have now glommed onto a major push by India and South Africa at the WTO to abolish all IP around Covid-19 vaccines.

At first blush, waiving this IP sounds like an easy win: More Covid-19 vaccines made locally for more people means more lives saved. Simple enough, especially as low-income countries have received just a tiny fraction of the world’s vaccine allotment so far.

Thomas Schall, ChemoCentryx CEO (file photo)

Chemo­Cen­tryx plunges as FDA rais­es ques­tions about rare dis­ease drug ahead of ad­comm

ChemoCentryx’s stock price on Wednesday was cut in half by the release of FDA briefing documents ahead of a Thursday adcomm, raising questions on the company’s clinical data to support avacopan as a treatment for adults with a rare and serious disease known as anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibody (ANCA)-vasculitis.

ANCA-associated vasculitides (AAV) affect small to medium-size blood vessels that can be fatal in less than a year if left untreated, according to FDA. Only Roche’s Rituxan is currently FDA-approved for the treatment of AAV, while glucocorticoids are approved for the broader indication of vasculitis.

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Stéphane Bancel at the Endpoints #JPM20 breakfast panel in San Francisco, January 2020 (Photo: Jeff Rumans, Endpoints News)

Mod­er­na says Covid-19 vac­cine boost­er in­creased im­mune re­sponse against vari­ants of con­cern

About a month after announcing their variant-specific Covid-19 vaccine boosters showed promising results in mice, Moderna says it now has some human data to back it up.

Volunteers given a booster shot about six to eight months after receiving their second dose saw increased antibody levels against SARS-CoV-2 and two variants of concern: B.1.351, which was first identified in South Africa, and P.1, first identified in Brazil, the company said on Wednesday.

Cynthia Butitta (L) and Joe Jimenez

Is that an­oth­er IPO in the mak­ing? Ex-No­var­tis CEO Joe Jimenez and a lead Kite play­er take up new posts at an off-the-shelf ri­val to 2 pi­o­neer­ing drugs

Right on the heels of taking on a $160 million crossover round in a likely leap to Nasdaq, Century Therapeutics CEO Lalo Flores is now pushing ahead with the high-profile ex-Novartis chief Joe Jimenez as chairman.

Jimenez’s greatest fame at Novartis was earned for one of its weakest products, as their pioneering personalized CAR-T Kymriah won the honors for the first such drug to make it to the market. Now a host of players, including Century, are barreling in behind the frontrunners with allogeneic rivals that can be created for off-the-shelf use.

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