'Not alone': Te­va grows aware­ness cam­paign for com­mon Hunt­ing­ton's side ef­fect

For the last four years, Te­va has con­nect­ed with Hunt­ing­ton’s dis­ease pa­tients through its Face­book page, Hon­est­ly HD. This year, the com­pa­ny is hop­ing to reach a much broad­er au­di­ence.

Five years af­ter win­ning ap­proval for its Hunt­ing­ton’s-as­so­ci­at­ed chorea treat­ment Auste­do, Te­va is re-up­ping its aware­ness cam­paign, this time with a web­site chock full of re­sources for pa­tients and a new Twit­ter chan­nel.

“Hunt­ing­ton’s dis­ease has many parts to it, and the ad­vo­ca­cy groups do a great job at help­ing pa­tients nav­i­gate it be­cause it is quite a tricky land­scape. But we re­al­ly didn’t see a lot of in­for­ma­tion spe­cif­ic to chorea,” di­rec­tor of con­sumer mar­ket­ing Ni­na DeLu­cia told End­points News. 

Chorea is a move­ment dis­or­der that oc­curs in rough­ly 90% of Hunt­ing­ton’s pa­tients, in which ab­nor­mal­ly high dopamine lev­els cause in­vol­un­tary body move­ments. It can af­fect the limbs, tor­so, hands, face and even speech.

“Our mo­ti­va­tion was to then be able to pro­vide re­sources for folks to un­der­stand the im­pact of chorea, to see what oth­ers have done around their chorea, and al­so to be able to think about how they can plan for their in­de­pen­dence and po­ten­tial­ly treat their chorea,” DeLu­cia said.

The web­site fea­tures in­for­ma­tion about Hunt­ing­ton’s chorea, in­clud­ing a video show­ing the ef­fects of mild to se­vere chorea, ad­vice for nav­i­gat­ing life with the dis­ease, and links to pa­tient net­works from the Hunt­ing­ton’s Dis­ease So­ci­ety of Amer­i­ca to Red­dit. Tools like a dis­cus­sion guide are avail­able to help pa­tients pre­pare for doc­tor’s ap­point­ments, which takes the form of a work­sheet with guid­ed ques­tions for both pa­tients and clin­i­cians.  There’s al­so a link to the Face­book group, which in­cludes a video that reads, “You are not alone.”

“Even if you’re not ex­pe­ri­enc­ing in­vol­un­tary move­ments yet, it’s im­por­tant to start a con­ver­sa­tion with your doc­tor ear­ly on about HD chorea so you can be pre­pared for the fu­ture,” the doc­u­ment states.

Al­though the cam­paign is un­brand­ed, the web­site links to the com­pa­ny’s treat­ment page for Auste­do.

Auste­do won its first ap­proval back in 2017 as a treat­ment for chorea in Hunt­ing­ton’s pa­tients, then picked up a sec­ond ap­proval just months lat­er in tar­dive dysk­i­ne­sia, a side ef­fect of some an­tipsy­chot­ic med­ica­tions that caus­es repet­i­tive, in­vol­un­tary move­ments. Last quar­ter, the drug raked in $204 mil­lion, up 17% from Q2 2021.

While Lund­beck beat Auste­do to the mar­ket with an ap­proval for Xe­nazine back in 2008, Te­va sought to com­pete by of­fer­ing its drug at a dis­count, launch­ing the drug at rough­ly $60,000 a year com­pared to Xe­nazine’s $152,000 price tag, Leerink’s Ja­son Ger­ber­ry not­ed back in 2017.

“It’s all about try­ing to be open and hon­est about what’s hap­pen­ing in HD,” DeLu­cia said. “It’s a dis­ease that is ex­treme­ly scary be­cause it’s pro­gres­sive and de­bil­i­tat­ing and ul­ti­mate­ly fa­tal. So to be able to have those open con­ver­sa­tions around it just of­fers that op­por­tu­ni­ty to build com­mu­ni­ty with one an­oth­er.”

Tim Van Hauwermeiren, argenx CEO

Ar­genx pur­chas­es $100M+ FDA pri­or­i­ty re­view vouch­er from blue­bird bio

Argenx’s Vyvgart is due for a speedy review at the FDA, thanks to a $102 million priority review voucher (PRV).

The Netherland-based biotech picked up the PRV from bluebird bio, the companies announced on Wednesday. PRVs shorten a drug’s FDA review period from 10 months to 6 months, though they often sell on the open market for around $100 million each.

Argenx plans on using the express ticket on efgartigimod, its neonatal Fc receptor (FcRn) blocker marketed as Vyvgart for adults with generalized myasthenia gravis (gMG). While Vyvgart won its first approval last December for the chronic neuromuscular disease — which is characterized by difficulties with facial expression, speech, swallowing and breathing — CEO Tim Van Hauwermeiren said in a news release that he plans to “be active in fifteen disease targets by 2025.”

Susan Galbraith, AstraZeneca EVP, oncology R&D, at EUBIO22 (Rachel Kiki for Endpoints News)

Up­dat­ed: As­traZeneca jumps deep­er in­to cell ther­a­py 2.0 space with $320M biotech M&A

Right from the start, the execs at Neogene had some lofty goals in mind when they decided to try their hand at a cell therapy that could tackle solid tumors.

Its founders have helped hone a new approach that would pack in multiple neoantigen targets to create a personalized TCR treatment that would not just make the leap from blood to solid tumors, but do it with durability. And they managed to make their way rapidly to the clinic, unveiling their first Phase I program for advanced tumors just last May.

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Ei­sai’s ex­pand­ed Alzheimer’s da­ta leave open ques­tions about safe­ty and clin­i­cal ben­e­fit

Researchers still have key questions about Eisai’s investigational Alzheimer’s drug lecanemab following the publication of more Phase III data in the New England Journal of Medicine Tuesday night.

In the paper, which was released in conjunction with presentations at an Alzheimer’s conference, trial investigators write that a definition of clinical meaningfulness “has not been established.” And the relative lack of new information, following topline data unveiled in September, left experts asking for more — setting up a potential showdown to precisely define how big a difference the drug makes in patients’ lives.

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Illustration: Assistant Editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News

Twit­ter dis­ar­ray con­tin­ues as phar­ma ad­ver­tis­ers ex­tend paus­es and look around for op­tions, but keep tweet­ing

Pharma advertisers on Twitter are done — at least for now. Ad spending among the previous top spenders flattened even further last week, according to the latest data from ad tracker Pathmatics, amid ongoing turmoil after billionaire boss Elon Musk’s takeover now one month ago.

Among 18 top advertisers tracked for Endpoints News, only two are spending: GSK and Bayer. GSK spending for the full week through Sunday was minimal at just under $1,900. Meanwhile, German drugmaker Bayer remains the industry outlier upping its spending to $499,000 last week from $480,000 the previous week. Bayer’s spending also marks a big increase from a month ago and before the Musk takeover, when it spent $16,000 per week.

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Vi­a­tris with­draws ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval for top­i­cal an­timi­cro­bial 24 years lat­er

After 24 years without confirming clinical benefit, the FDA announced Tuesday morning that Viatris (formed via Mylan and Pfizer’s Upjohn) has decided to withdraw a topical antimicrobial agent, Sulfamylon (mafenide acetate), after the company said conducting a confirmatory study was not feasible.

Sulfamylon first won FDA’s accelerated nod in 1998 as a topical burn treatment, with the FDA noting that last December, Mylan told the agency that it wasn’t running the trial.

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Lil­ly's Covid-19 mAb no longer au­tho­rized due to Omi­cron sub­vari­ants, FDA says

The FDA on Wednesday announced that Eli Lilly’s Covid-19 drug bebtelovimab is no longer authorized to treat Covid-19 because of the rising numbers of two new subvariants that the drug does not work against.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week published new estimates that the combined proportion of Covid-19 cases caused by the Omicron subvariants BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 are greater than 57% nationally, and already above 50% in all individual regions but one.

Emily Leproust, Twist Bioscience CEO

Twist Bio­science’s 'fac­to­ry of the fu­ture' in Ore­gon could de­liv­er with com­pet­i­tive pric­ing, SVB Se­cu­ri­ties says

The synthetic DNA manufacturer Twist Bioscience has given a peek behind the curtain to several analysts into its “factory of the future” as well as insight into the cost structure, workflow and technology at the site.

The 110,000-square-foot manufacturing site in the city of Wilsonville, OR, just south of Portland, which was announced back in 2020, will double Twist’s production capacity and bring around 400 jobs to the area.

Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Romuald Meigneux/Sipa via AP Images)

Sanofi and DN­Di aim to elim­i­nate sleep­ing sick­ness in Africa with promis­ing Ph II/III re­sults for new drug

The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) and Sanofi today said that their potential sleeping sickness treatment saw success rates of up to 95% from a Phase II/III study investigating the safety and efficacy of single-dose acoziborole.

The potentially transformative treatment for sleeping sickness would mainly be targeted at African countries, according to data published today in The Lancet Infectious Diseases medical journal. The clinical trial was led by DNDi and its partners in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Guinea, with the authors noting:

Digital render of CPI's Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre in Glasgow, Scotland (Image: uk-cpi.com)

CPI opens the doors to a new $100M+ man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ty in Scot­land

A manufacturing site that has received interest and investments from large pharma companies and the UK government is opening its doors in Scotland.

The manufacturer CPI (Centre for Process Innovation) has opened a new £88 million ($105 million) “Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre” in Glasgow, Scotland, to accelerate the development of manufacturing tech and solve longstanding challenges in medicine development and manufacturing.