My­ovan­t's re­l­u­golix clears first uter­ine fi­broids PhI­II test, but com­pe­ti­tion from Ab­b­Vie/Neu­ro­crine makes in­vestors jit­tery

Vivek Ra­maswamy’s bet on Take­da’s re­l­u­golix has worked — sort of.

Vivek Ra­maswamy

Less than three years af­ter the pro­lif­ic deal­mak­er spawned My­ovant as part of his um­brel­la of ‘Vants’ with a record $218 mil­lion IPO, the treat­ment in-li­censed from the Japan­ese drug­mak­er passed muster in a late-stage study in women with uter­ine fi­broids, which are com­mon non-can­cer­ous fe­male re­pro­duc­tive tract tu­mors. But in­vestors were not quite as im­pressed as the com­pa­ny’s shares $MY­OV tum­bled in ear­ly Tues­day trad­ing.

The oral drug, which is an an­tag­o­nist of the go­nadotropin-re­leas­ing hor­mone (GnRH) re­cep­tor, is de­signed to sup­press es­tro­gen pro­duc­tion in women. It is be­ing test­ed in twin piv­otal stud­ies in­volv­ing women with uter­ine fi­broids and heavy men­stru­al bleed­ing, called LIB­ER­TY 1 and LIB­ER­TY 2.

My­ovant on Tues­day un­veiled the re­sults of the first Phase III tri­al, which en­rolled 388 women and test­ed re­l­u­golix (40 mg) in com­bi­na­tion with fe­male hor­mones estra­di­ol (1 mg) and norethin­drone ac­etate (0.5 mg). In the tri­al, pa­tients re­ceived ei­ther re­l­u­golix com­bi­na­tion ther­a­py for 24 weeks; re­l­u­golix monother­a­py for 12 weeks fol­lowed by re­l­u­golix com­bi­na­tion ther­a­py for the next 12 weeks; or place­bo once dai­ly for 24 weeks.

In the study, 73.4% of women re­ceiv­ing once-dai­ly oral re­l­u­golix com­bi­na­tion ther­a­py achieved the re­spon­der cri­te­ria com­pared with 18.9% of women re­ceiv­ing place­bo (p < 0.0001) — meet­ing the main goal. A re­sponse was de­fined as a men­stru­al blood loss vol­ume of less than 80 mL and a 50% or greater re­duc­tion from base­line in men­stru­al blood loss vol­ume dur­ing the last 35 days of the 24-week treat­ment pe­ri­od. On av­er­age, women re­ceiv­ing re­l­u­golix com­bi­na­tion ther­a­py al­so ex­pe­ri­enced an 84.3% re­duc­tion in men­stru­al blood loss from base­line, which was a key sec­ondary end­point.

Ab­b­Vie $AB­BV and Neu­ro­crine Bio­sciences’ $NBIX ther­a­py elagolix (brand­ed as Orilis­sa), which was ap­proved last year to treat en­dometrio­sis, is al­so be­ing eval­u­at­ed for use in uter­ine fi­broids. It is has a sim­i­lar mech­a­nism of ac­tion com­pared to re­l­u­golix but is tak­en twice-dai­ly. The com­pa­nies have re­port­ed da­ta from two piv­otal six-month stud­ies. In one late-stage study, 68.5% (p<0.001) of elagolix-treat­ed women with uter­ine fi­broids achieved clin­i­cal re­sponse com­pared to place­bo (8.7%), in the sec­ond tri­al 76.2% (p<0.001) of elagolix-treat­ed women with uter­ine fi­broids achieved clin­i­cal re­sponse com­pared to place­bo (10.1%). A reg­u­la­to­ry sub­mis­sion for elagolix in uter­ine fi­broids is an­tic­i­pat­ed in mid-2019.

Phil Nadeau

“Re­l­u­golix will fol­low Neu­ro­crine’s GnRH an­tag­o­nist Orilis­sa to the U.S. mar­ket. How­ev­er, re­l­u­golix has cer­tain dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing fea­tures (once-dai­ly dos­ing, full es­tro­gen sup­pres­sion) that should al­low it to cap­ture share, par­tic­u­lar­ly in sit­u­a­tions such as uter­ine fi­broids or se­vere en­dometrio­sis where high GnRH sup­pres­sion is nec­es­sary,” Cowen’s Phil Nadeau wrote in a note in Feb­ru­ary, es­ti­mat­ing that in 2025 re­l­u­golix will gen­er­ate $1.15 bil­lion in uter­ine fi­broid sales.

Ob­sE­va $OB­SV is al­so cur­rent­ly de­vel­op­ing a GnRH re­cep­tor an­tag­o­nist called Lin­zagolix for uter­ine fi­broids — da­ta from its late-stage study is ex­pect­ed in the fourth quar­ter of this year.

“(G)yne­col­o­gists re­in­forced our the­sis that the clin­i­cal pro­file of the GnRH an­tag­o­nists could ad­dress a sig­nif­i­cant un­met need in uter­ine fi­broids and en­dometrio­sis, and that giv­en the het­ero­gene­ity in pa­tient re­sponse, there is like­ly to be a de­mand for all the three Gn­RHs”, SVB Leerink an­a­lysts wrote in a note pub­lished last month.

Da­ta from LIB­ER­TY 2 is ex­pect­ed in the third quar­ter of 2019, and if pos­i­tive, the two tri­als will form the ba­sis of a mar­ket­ing ap­pli­ca­tion that is planned for the fourth quar­ter, My­ovant said.

My­ovant’s in­vestors are not quite as en­thu­si­as­tic. Ab­b­Vie (our Go­liath) will file its mar­ket­ing ap­pli­ca­tion in the com­ing months, and if ap­proved will have some time to es­tab­lish it­self be­fore My­ovant (our David) makes it to the mar­ket, by which time it will be much hard­er for the small­er play­er to take a bite out of Ab­b­Vie’s mar­ket share. My­ovant’s stock $MY­OV was down about 29% at $12.22 in morn­ing trad­ing.

Baird’s Bri­an Sko­r­ney is­sued a glow­ing re­view of the My­ovant da­ta. “The first Phase 3 da­ta set in uter­ine fi­broids hit all the check box­es for an ap­prov­able, com­pet­i­tive pro­gram. We think the stock free-fall re­flects a sell-the-news dy­nam­ic, ex­ac­er­bat­ed by an ab­sence of ef­fi­ca­cy dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion and fi­nanc­ing con­cerns. We are buy­ers on the dip and con­tin­ue to be­lieve re­l­u­golix has block­buster po­ten­tial in uter­ine fi­broids and en­dometrio­sis,” he said in note on Tues­day.

“But I think the over­ar­ch­ing pres­sure on the stock is due to the fi­nanc­ing needs ahead of a launch that is prob­a­bly ~2 years away,” he added in an email to End­points News.

Uter­ine fi­broids are al­most al­ways be­nign tu­mors that emerge in or on the mus­cu­lar walls of the uterus. They can cause symp­toms such as ab­nor­mal uter­ine bleed­ing, heavy or painful pe­ri­ods, ane­mia, ab­dom­i­nal pain, back­ache, in­creased ab­dom­i­nal girth and bloat­ing, uri­nary fre­quen­cy or re­ten­tion, con­sti­pa­tion or painful defe­ca­tion, preg­nan­cy loss, painful in­ter­course and, in some cas­es, in­fer­til­i­ty. Be­tween 20% to 80% of women de­vel­op fi­broids by the time they reach age 50, ac­cord­ing to HHS es­ti­mates.

Lynn Seely

Take­da $TAK has an eq­ui­ty stake in My­ovant, which is al­so eval­u­at­ing re­l­u­golix as a treat­ment for en­dometrio­sis in women, as well as ad­vanced prostate can­cer in men. The biotech is run by Lynn Seely, the for­mer CMO of Medi­va­tion.

The in­fec­tious for­mer hedge fund man­ag­er Ra­maswamy has whipped up a pletho­ra of com­pa­nies un­der his um­brel­la firm Roivant, by con­vinc­ing in­vestors that lu­cra­tive re­turns can be made by tak­ing ex­per­i­men­tal drugs gath­er­ing dust on big phar­ma shelves all the way across the fin­ish line. His first big bet on Alzheimer’s/de­men­tia as­sets — much like every­thing else in the bat­tered field — failed spec­tac­u­lar­ly at his sem­i­nal Ax­o­vant $AX­ON}, but he has rein­vig­o­rat­ed the com­pa­ny in­to a gene-ther­a­py play­er. Mean­while, his en­thu­si­asm for the strat­e­gy has not with­ered, as he has birthed var­i­ous oth­er ‘Vants’ fo­cus­ing on dif­fer­ent ill­ness­es and ther­a­peu­tic ap­proach­es.

Mi­no­ryx and Sper­o­genix ink an ex­clu­sive li­cense agree­ment to de­vel­op and com­mer­cial­ize lerigli­ta­zone in Chi­na

September 23, 2020 – Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai (China) and Mataró, Barcelona (Spain)  

Minoryx will receive an upfront and milestone payments of up to $78 million, as well as double digit royalties on annual net sales 

Sperogenix will receive exclusive rights to develop and commercialize leriglitazone for the treatment of X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD), a rare life-threatening neurological condition

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The idea, says founder and Flagship partner David Berry, is one of scale: The sheer magnitude of biological data that you can store on cloud technology is unprecedented. And that size, when leveraged properly, can allow you to ask questions and form insights that are similarly unprecedented.

Vas Narasimhan (AP Images)

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The new requirement — which departs significantly from Novartis’ prior expectations — will likely stretch the path to registration beyond 2021, when analysts were expecting a BLA submission. That could mean more time for Biogen to reap Spinraza revenues and Roche to ramp up sales of Evrysdi in the absence of a rival.

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FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn at the White House (AP Images)

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The FDA is set to release new guidance that would raise safety and efficacy requirements for a vaccine EUA above earlier guidance and above the criteria used for convalescent plasma or hydroxychloroquine, The Washington Post reported. Experts say this significantly lowers the odds of an approval before the election on November 3, which Trump has promised despite vocal concerns from public health officials, and could help shore up public trust in the agency and any eventual vaccine.

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Samit Hirawat (Bristol Myers Squibb)

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Patrick Enright, Longitude co-founder (Longitude)

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