New safe­ty da­ta ex­pose po­ten­tial weak­ness as Pfiz­er's abroc­i­tinib takes on Dupix­ent in eczema

Last Sep­tem­ber, when Pfiz­er cel­e­brat­ed pos­i­tive da­ta from a sec­ond Phase III study of abroc­i­tinib, many watch­ers ap­plaud­ed the ef­fi­ca­cy but were still wait­ing to see whether the JAK1 in­hibitor is “safe enough to be a for­mi­da­ble com­peti­tor to Dupix­ent,” the clear leader in the atopic der­mati­tis field. The full slate of safe­ty da­ta are now out and, ac­cord­ing to one an­a­lyst, the an­swer is: prob­a­bly not.

The broad­er class of JAK in­hibitors has been plagued by se­ri­ous side ef­fects re­lat­ing to blood that threat­en to lim­it their adop­tion, and JAK1 drugs — which tar­get a more spe­cif­ic sub­type of the ki­nase — are still un­der heavy scruti­ny.

In a note, Jef­feries’ Re­gen­eron bull Biren Amin sin­gled out re­duc­tions in platelet count in JADE MONO-2 as a par­tic­u­lar cause for con­cern.

At week 4, platelet re­duc­tions of 26% were not­ed for the 200mg dose, 19% in the 100mg group, and less than 1% for those on place­bo. In the drug’s de­fense, the re­searchers wrote that platelet counts “re­turned to­wards base­line val­ues there­after de­spite con­tin­u­a­tion of treat­ment,” and that there were no re­ports of bleed­ing dis­or­ders in any treat­ment group.

Still, the fact that the mech­a­nism lead­ing to platelet re­duc­tions is un­known could be a con­cern, Amin not­ed.

Then there’s the da­ta point that 1.9% of pa­tients in the 100mg group re­port­ed a se­ri­ous in­fec­tion, com­pared to none on 200mg and 1.3% on place­bo. Her­pes zoster was ob­served in 2 pa­tients tak­ing 200mg (1.3%).

In Ab­b­Vie’s case, Amin point­ed out, 1% of pa­tients re­port­ing se­ri­ous in­fec­tions, op­por­tunis­tic in­fec­tions and her­pes zoster was enough for reg­u­la­tors to slap a black box warn­ing on Rin­voq’s rheuma­toid arthri­tis la­bel.

“Tak­en to­geth­er, giv­en the safe­ty sig­nals around con­cerns for JAK1i class, ini­tial adop­tion of abroc­i­tinib might be lim­it­ed to se­vere pa­tients or on­ly be used as a short course of in­duc­tion be­fore switch­ing pa­tients to oth­er ther­a­pies to re­duce the ex­po­sure,” he wrote.

For now, Pfiz­er is fo­cus­ing on the bright side, em­pha­siz­ing how abroc­i­tinib can of­fer po­ten­tial symp­tom re­lief to pa­tients — in­clud­ing the both­er­some itch that comes with mod­er­ate to se­vere atopic der­mati­tis. The rate of ad­verse events over­all was al­so low in the tri­al, back­ing the claim that the drug was well-tol­er­at­ed. Abroc­i­tinib is al­so giv­en in pill form rather than sub­cu­ta­neous­ly, of­fer­ing pa­tients a more con­ve­nient choice.

But as Sanofi and Re­gen­eron con­tin­ue to groom Dupix­ent — the prize gem of a fore­gone re­la­tion­ship that gen­er­at­ed $2.32 bil­lion in 2019 rev­enue — in­to an even big­ger block­buster, the fight is on­ly be­gin­ning to play out.

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

FDA chief Stephen Hahn on Capitol Hill earlier this week (Getty Images)

As FDA buck­les un­der the strain of a pan­dem­ic work­load, Trump again ac­cus­es the agency of a po­lit­i­cal hit job

Peter Marks appeared before a virtual SVB Leerink audience yesterday and said that his staff at FDA’s CBER is on the verge of working around the clock. Manufacturing inspections, policy work and sponsor communications have all been pushed down the to-do list so that they can be responsive to Covid-related interactions. And the agency’s objective right now? “To save as many lives as we can,” Marks said, likening the mortality on the current outbreak as equivalent to “a nuclear bomb on a small city.”

Daniel O'Day, Gilead CEO (Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Play-by-play of Gilead­'s $21B Im­munomedics buy­out de­tails a fren­zied push — and mints a new biotech bil­lion­aire

Immunomedics had not really been looking for a buyout when the year began. Excited by its BLA for Trodelvy, submitted to the FDA in late 2019, executive chairman Behzad Aghazadeh started off looking for potential licensing deals and zeroed in on four potential partners, including Gilead, following January’s JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. Such talks advanced throughout the year, with discussions advancing to the second round in mid-August.

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The win­dow is wide open as four more biotechs join the go-go IPO class of 2020

It’s another day of hauling cash in the biopharma world as four more IPOs priced Friday and a fifth filed its initial paperwork.

The biggest offering comes from PMV Pharma, an oncology biotech focusing on p53 mutations, which raised $211.8 million after pricing shares at $18 apiece. Prelude Therapeutics, developing PRMT5 inhibitors for rare cancers, was next with a $158 million raise, pricing shares at $19 each. Graybug Vision raised $90 million after pricing at $16 per share for its wet AMD candidates, and breast cancer biotech Greenwich Lifesciences brought up the rear with a small, $7 million raise after pricing shares at $5.75.

J&J of­fers PhI/IIa da­ta show­ing its sin­gle-dose vac­cine can stir up suf­fi­cient im­mune re­sponse

Days after J&J dosed the first participants of its Phase III ENSEMBLE trial, the pharma giant has detailed the early-stage data that gave them confidence in a single-dose regimen.

Testing two dose levels either as a single dose or in a two-dose schedule spaced by 56 days in, the scientists from Janssen, the J&J subsidiary developing its vaccine, reported that the low dose induced a similar immune response as the high dose. The interim Phase I/IIa results were posted in a preprint on medRxiv.

President Donald Trump reacts after signing an executive order following his remarks on his healthcare policies yesterday in Charlotte, North Carolina (Getty Images)

Op-ed: Will phar­ma re­al­ly pay for Trump’s lat­est law­less promise to 33 mil­lion Medicare ben­e­fi­cia­ries? Not like­ly

Sitting atop the executive branch, President Donald Trump is the ultimate authority at the FDA. He can fast track any vaccine to approval himself. If it came to that, of course.

What he can’t do is unilaterally order the legislative branch to loosen the Treasury’s coffers for $6.6 billion. Nor can he command pharmaceutical companies to pay for $200 vouchers sent to 33 million Medicare beneficiaries for prescription drugs before the election.

Pal­la­dio bags $20 mil­lion Se­ries B to top­ple a prob­lem­at­ic kid­ney dis­ease drug

Palladio Biosciences just took one step further in its quest to topple Otsuka’s Samsca with its own — it hopes safer — autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) drug.

The Pennsylvania-based biotech announced a $20 million Series B on Friday, which will fund a 10-person Phase III trial of its vasopressin V2 receptor agonist, lixivaptan. CEO Alex Martin expects to read out data in the first half of next year, then launch straight into a larger pivotal Phase III study with about 1,200 participants.

New York governor Andrew Cuomo (AP Images)

An­drew Cuo­mo says New York will un­der­take its own vac­cine re­view process, and wouldn’t rec­om­mend trust­ing the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment

The concerns keep mounting over President Donald Trump’s politicization of the FDA and other federal agencies guiding the development of a safe and effective vaccine. And today, the telegenic New York governor Andrew Cuomo appeared to introduce even more politics into the matter — latest in an ongoing series of incidents that have cast the proudly independent FDA in starkly political terms.

During his daily press conference Cuomo said that the state will review any coronavirus vaccines approved by the federal government, citing a lack of trust in the Trump administration. The announcement comes one day after Trump accused the FDA of making an “extremely political” move in proposing stricter vaccine guidance.

PhII Alzheimer's fail­ure deals new blow to Roche, AC Im­mune — but the tau hy­poth­e­sis is far from dead

The leading anti-tau antibody has failed its first Phase II testing, casting a shadow on a popular target (just trailing amyloid beta) for Alzheimer’s disease.

Roche and AC Immune are quick to acknowledge disappointment in the topline readout, which suggested that semorinemab did not reduce cognitive decline among patients with early Alzheimer’s disease, who are either just starting to have symptoms or have mild manifestations.

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