No­var­tis boasts a big new ad­van­tage for Cosen­tyx as da­ta in­di­cate the block­buster can mod­i­fy pso­ri­a­sis

Vas Narasimhan

No­var­tis got a big lead on the fast-chang­ing pso­ri­a­sis mar­ket when it grabbed an ap­proval for Cosen­tyx more than 18 months ago, putting it well ahead of ri­vals rush­ing through late-stage pro­grams. Now, the phar­ma gi­ant $NVS is look­ing to con­sol­i­date its hold on the lead role for new ther­a­pies with some re­mark­able da­ta sug­gest­ing the drug could act as a dis­ease mod­i­fi­er for a sig­nif­i­cant group of pa­tients.

In new da­ta pre­sent­ed to­day, in­ves­ti­ga­tors say Cosen­tyx “may mod­i­fy the course of mod­er­ate-to-se­vere pso­ri­a­sis lead­ing to long-term, treat­ment-free skin clear­ance.” And that’s a first for any IL-17A ther­a­py.

New da­ta show that in a full year fol­low­ing the end of treat­ment, 21% of pa­tients re­tained clear skin. Af­ter two years, 10% were able to re­main symp­tom free.

No­var­tis al­so con­clud­ed that the da­ta in­di­cate that an ear­li­er start to ther­a­py im­proves a shot at dis­ease mod­i­fi­ca­tion.

That’s a big deal in this field. Cosen­tyx broke the $1 bil­lion rev­enue mark last year as Eli Lil­ly lined up an ap­proval for Taltz and Valeant man­aged an OK for Siliq. Siliq, though, comes with a black box warn­ing on sui­ci­dal think­ing. The next big en­try here will like­ly be from J&J, which on­ly a few days ago re­port­ed its fi­nal har­vest of pos­i­tive Phase III da­ta for guselkum­ab.

No­var­tis now has some added da­ta that will help keep sales rev­enue point­ed north.

“These re­sults sug­gest that Cosen­tyx may go be­yond sim­ply treat­ing symp­toms and could ac­tu­al­ly mod­i­fy the course of pso­ri­a­sis, and high­lights the need for fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­to ear­ly in­ter­ven­tion,” said Vas Narasimhan, Glob­al Head, Drug De­vel­op­ment and Chief Med­ical Of­fi­cer, No­var­tis. “Be­ing able to change the course of dis­ease is the ul­ti­mate goal of treat­ment, which is why we are in­vest­ing in the STEPIn tri­al to fur­ther un­der­stand the dis­ease mod­i­fy­ing abil­i­ty of Cosen­tyx in pso­ri­a­sis.”

Martin Shkreli [via Getty]

Pris­on­er #87850-053 does not get to add drug de­vel­op­er to his list of cred­its

Just days after Retrophin shed its last ties to founder Martin Shkreli, the biotech is reporting that the lead drug he co-invented flopped in a pivotal trial. Fosmetpantotenate flunked both the primary and key secondary endpoints in a placebo-controlled trial for a rare disease called pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration, or PKAN.

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We­bi­nar: Re­al World End­points — the brave new world com­ing in build­ing fran­chise ther­a­pies

Several biopharma companies have been working on expanding drug labels through the use of real world endpoints, combing through the data to find evidence of a drug’s efficacy for particular indications. But we’ve just begun. Real World Evidence is becoming an important part of every clinical development plan, in the soup-through-nuts approach used in building franchises.

I’ve recruited a panel of 3 top experts in the field — the first in a series of premium webinars — to look at the practical realities governing what can be done today, and where this is headed over the next few years, at the prodding of the FDA.

ZHEN SU — Merck Serono’s Senior Vice President and Global Head of Oncology
ELLIOTT LEVY — Amgen’s Senior Vice President of Global Development
CHRIS BOSHOFF — Pfizer Oncology’s Chief Development Officer

A premium subscription to Endpoints News is required to attend this webinar. Please upgrade to either an Insider or Enterprise plan for access. Already have Endpoints Premium? Please sign-in below. You can contact our Subscriptions team at help@endpointsnews.com with any issues.

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Hal Barron. GSK

GSK's Hal Bar­ron her­alds their sec­ond pos­i­tive piv­otal for cru­cial an­ti-BC­MA ther­a­py, point­ing to a push for quick OKs in a crowd­ed field

Hal Barron has his second positive round of Phase III data in hand for his anti-BCMA antibody drug conjugate belantamab mafodotin (GSK2857916). And GSK’s research chief says the data paves the way for their drive in search of an FDA approval for treating multiple myeloma.

It’s hard to overestimate the importance of this drug for GSK, a cornerstone of Barron’s campaign to make a dramatic impact on the oncology market and provide some long-lost excitement for the pharma giant’s pipeline. They’re putting this BCMA program at the front of that charge — looking to lead a host of rivals all aimed at the same target.

We don’t know what the data are yet, but DREAMM-2 falls on the heels of a promising set of data delivered 5 months ago for DREAMM-1. There investigators noted that complete responses among treatment-resistant patients rose to 15% in the extra year’s worth of data to look over, with a median progression-free survival rate of 12 months, up from 7.9 months reported earlier. The median duration of response was 14.3 months.

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Brian Kaspar. AveXis via Twitter

AveX­is sci­en­tif­ic founder fires back at No­var­tis CEO Vas Narasimhan, 'cat­e­gor­i­cal­ly de­nies any wrong­do­ing'

Brian Kaspar’s head was among the first to roll at Novartis after company execs became aware of the fact that manipulated data had been included in its application for Zolgensma, now the world’s most expensive therapy.

But in his first public response, the scientific founder at AveXis — acquired by Novartis for $8.7 billion — is firing back. And he says that not only was he not involved in any wrongdoing, he’s ready to defend his name as needed.

I reached out to Brian Kaspar after Novartis put out word that he and his brother Allen had been axed in mid-May, two months after the company became aware of the allegations related to manipulated data. His response came back through his attorneys.

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Why would Am­gen want to buy Alex­ion? An­a­lysts call hot­ly ru­mored takeover un­like­ly, but seize the mo­ment

A rumor that Amgen is closing in on buyout deal for Alexion has sparked a guessing game on just what kind of M&A strategy Amgen is pursuing and how much Alexion is worth.

Mizuho analyst Salim Syed first lent credence to the report out of the Spanish news outlet Intereconomía, which said Amgen is bidding as much as $200 per share. While the source may be questionable, “the concept of this happening doesn’t sound too crazy to me,” he wrote.

FDA asks why No­var­tis took two months to launch for­mal in­ter­nal probe, af­ter AveX­is flagged da­ta ma­nip­u­la­tion

And the plot thickens. Novartis $NVS officials are reportedly now scrambling to explain to the FDA why it took them two months to open an internal investigation into data discrepancies for their $2.1 million gene-therapy for spinal muscular dystrophy — the world’s most expensive drug.

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Build­ing on suc­cess­ful PD-1 pact, Eli Lil­ly li­cens­es di­a­betes drug to Chi­nese part­ners at In­novent

Eli Lilly is expanding its partnership with China’s Innovent in a deal involving a diabetes drug sitting in its Phase I reserves.

The two companies had jointly developed one of China’s first homegrown PD-1 agents, scoring an approval for Tyvyt (sintilimab) late last year for relapsed/refractory classical Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This time around, Lilly is out-licensing a piece of its diabetes pipeline, a leading franchise that has historically produced the top-selling Trulicity and Humalog.

UP­DAT­ED: An em­bold­ened As­traZeneca splurges $95M on a pri­or­i­ty re­view vouch­er. Where do they need the FDA to hus­tle up?

AstraZeneca is in a hurry.

We learned this morning that the pharma giant — not known as a big spender, until recently — forked over $95 million to get its hands on a priority review voucher from Sobi, otherwise known as Swedish Orphan Biovitrum.

That marks another step down on price for a PRV, which allows the holder to slash 4 months off of any FDA review time.

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Bob Smith, Pfizer

Pfiz­er is mak­ing a $500M state­ment to­day: Here’s how you be­come a lead play­er in the boom­ing gene ther­a­py sec­tor

Three years ago, Pfizer anted up $150 million in cash to buy Bamboo Therapeutics in Chapel Hill, NC as it cautiously stuck a toe in the small gene therapy pool of research and development.

Company execs followed up a year later with a $100 million expansion of the manufacturing operations they picked up in that deal for the UNC spinout, which came with $495 million in milestones.

And now they’re really going for it.

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