No­var­tis plots to re­tain hives pa­tients with mon­o­clon­al an­ti­body that out­shines Xo­lair

Af­ter the loss of patent pro­tec­tion on its Roche-part­nered hives ther­a­py Xo­lair, No­var­tis $NVS has found its ex­per­i­men­tal mon­o­clon­al an­ti­body lige­lizum­ab sur­passed Xo­lair in a mid-stage hives tri­al, al­low­ing the com­pa­ny to shep­herd it along to Phase III tri­als.

The block­buster bi­o­log­ic Xo­lair, which is ap­proved for hives as well as al­ler­gic asth­ma, is vul­ner­a­ble to com­pe­ti­tion af­ter los­ing patent pro­tec­tion, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the Unit­ed States and Eu­rope. So far no copy­cats have hit the mar­ket, al­though there at least two are in de­vel­op­ment. In­dia’s Glen­mark re­cent­ly re­port­ed ear­ly-stage da­ta from a US tri­al, while part­ners Sor­ren­to and MabTech are test­ing their ver­sion in an on­go­ing Phase III study in Chi­na.

Both No­var­tis and Roche have con­tin­gency plans in place for even­tu­al Xo­lair com­pe­ti­tion in pa­tients with chron­ic spon­ta­neous ur­ticaria (CSU), an un­pre­dictable skin con­di­tion that is char­ac­ter­ized by spon­ta­neous swelling and itchy hives. No­var­tis has lige­lizum­ab, while Roche is de­vel­op­ing fene­bru­ti­nib, which it is cur­rent­ly test­ing in a Phase II tri­al for CSU.

No­var­tis’ mid-stage tri­al test­ed lige­lizum­ab against Xo­lair in CSU pa­tients who did not de­rive ad­e­quate ben­e­fit from an­ti­his­t­a­mines. Da­ta showed the ex­per­i­men­tal drug out­per­formed Xo­lair, but No­var­tis did not re­veal the mag­ni­tude of im­prove­ment in a re­lease it is­sued on Tues­day, ex­cept to say that lige­lizum­ab is now ready to be test­ed in twin Phase III tri­als — PEARL 1 and PEARL 2 — at sites across 48 coun­tries.

Michel Younatsos, Biogen CEO (via YouTube)

UP­DAT­ED: Bio­gen scores a pri­or­i­ty re­view for its Alzheimer's drug ad­u­canum­ab, mov­ing one gi­ant leap for­ward in its con­tro­ver­sial quest

Biogen scored a big win at the FDA today as regulators accepted their application for the controversial Alzheimer’s drug aducanumab and gave it a priority review.

The PDUFA date is March 7, 2021.

Significantly, Biogen says it did not use its priority review voucher to win special treatment at the FDA. The agency handed that out gratis.

That’s the ideal scenario Biogen was looking for as disappointed analysts wondered aloud about the delayed application earlier in the year.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 86,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Ryan Watts, Denali CEO

Bio­gen hands De­nali $1B-plus in cash, $1B-plus in mile­stones to part­ner on late-stage Parkin­son’s drug

Biogen is handing over more than a billion dollars cash to partner with the up-and-coming neurosciences crew at Denali on a new therapy for Parkinson’s. And the big biotech is ready to pile on more than a billion dollars more in milestones — if the alliance is a success.

For Biogen $BIIB, the move on Denali’s small molecule inhibitors of LRRK2 puts them in line to collaborate on a late-stage program for DNL151, which is scheduled to start next year.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 86,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Alex­ion cre­ates new post for chief di­ver­si­ty of­fi­cer; Bar­ry Greene step­ping down at Al­ny­lam, Yvonne Green­street named as suc­ces­sor

Alexion has carved out a new position for chief diversity officer and filled it with an inside promotion.

Uzair Qadeer will now be responsible for their “diversity, inclusion and belonging” strategy, looking to reshape the biotech’s corporate culture. A veteran of Deloitte and Bristol Myers Squibb, Qadeer was working on executive coaching and helping create the diversity program he now leads.

Covid-19 roundup: Gates Foun­da­tion pours $150M in­to In­dia’s Serum In­sti­tute; Pfiz­er teams with Gilead on remde­sivir

By CEO and scion Adar Poonawalla’s estimation, the Serum Institute in India has already poured hundreds of millions of dollars into scaling up the unproven Covid-19 vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford for use in low and middle income countries. It’s meant taking on a risk that other companies, including AstraZeneca, have mitigated with huge amounts of government funding.

Now, for the first time, Poonawalla is getting some outside help. The Gates Foundation has agreed to pay the institute $150 million to supply 100 million vaccines to India and other emerging economies next year, Reuters reported. That includes both the vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and the one being developed by Novavax. Those vaccines will be available in 92 countries and be priced at $3 per dose.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 86,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

In sur­pris­ing set­back, com­bo of Roche’s Tecen­triq and chemo fails to help pa­tients with triple-neg­a­tive breast can­cer

Roche broke ground last year when they secured the first FDA approval for a checkpoint therapy in triple-negative breast cancer, a notoriously difficult-to-treat indication that has been passed over by the wave of targeted therapies.

Now, though, doctors are puzzling over why a combination of drugs meant to make that therapy more potent instead appeared to make it less effective.

Roche said Thursday that in a Phase III trial, combining their PD-1/L1 checkpoint therapy Tecentriq with the chemotherapy paclitaxel, did not significantly improve progression-free survival for patients with locally advanced or metastatic triple-negative breast cancer over giving those patients chemotherapy alone. In fact, patients on the Tecentriq-chemo arm had lower overall survival than patients on chemo, although the drugmaker cautioned that the trial was not powered for that endpoint and the data were immature.

Jan Hatzius (Photographer: Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

When will it end? Gold­man econ­o­mist gives late-stage vac­cines a good shot at tar­get­ing 'large shares' of the US by mid-2021 — but the down­side is daunt­ing

It took decades for hepatitis B research to deliver a slate of late-stage candidates capable of reining the disease in.

With Covid-19, the same timeline has devoured all of 5 months. And the outcome will influence the lives of billions of people and a multitrillion-dollar world economy.

Count the economists at Goldman Sachs as optimistic that at least one of these leading vaccines will stay on this furiously accelerated pace and get over the regulatory goal line before the end of this year, with a shot at several more near-term OKs. That in turn should lead to the production of billions of doses of vaccines that can create herd immunity in the US by the middle of next year, with Europe following a few months later.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 86,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

J&J gets a fresh OK for es­ke­t­a­mine, but is it re­al­ly the game-chang­er for de­pres­sion Trump keeps tweet­ing about?

Backed by an enthusiastic set of tweets from President Trump and a landmark OK for depression, J&J scooped up a new approval from the FDA for Spravato today. But this latest advance will likely bring fresh scrutiny to a drug that’s spurred some serious questions about the data, as well as the price.

First, the approval.

Regulators stamped their OK on the use of Spravato — developed as esketamine, a nasal spray version of the party drug Special K or ketamine — for patients suffering from major depressive disorder with acute suicidal ideation or behavior.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 86,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

President Trump (AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: FDA takes the lead on defin­ing es­sen­tial un­der Trump's 'Buy Amer­i­can' ex­ec­u­tive or­der — as phar­ma warns of sup­ply chain dis­rup­tion

President Donald Trump has signed an executive order detailing how the federal government should help on-shore drug manufacturing — and the FDA will play a central role.

The agency now has three months to draw up the list of “essential medicines, medical countermeasures, and their critical inputs” that the US must have available at all times. Various departments and agencies are then directed to buy these drugs and their ingredients from American manufacturers.

Douglas Fambrough, Dicerna CEO (Boehringer Ingelheim via YouTube)

Roche-backed Dicer­na push­es in­to the pack rac­ing to­ward the block­buster hep B goal line, armed with PhI da­ta

Dicerna has lined up a set of proof-of-concept data from a small cohort of hepatitis B patients in a match-up against some heavyweight rivals which got out in front of this race. And right in the front row you’ll find a team from Roche, which paid $200 million in cash and offered another $1.5 billion in milestones to partner with Dicerna $DRNA on their RNAi program for hep B.

Right now it’s looking competitive, with lots of big challenges ahead.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 86,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.