No­var­tis scores a quick FDA OK for its new can­cer drug Lu­tathera, picked up in $4B buy­out

It didn’t take long for No­var­tis’ $NVS $4 bil­lion ac­qui­si­tion of Ad­vanced Ac­cel­er­a­tor Ap­pli­ca­tions to pay off. The FDA has pro­vid­ed its stamp of ap­proval for their drug Lu­tathera, which us­es ra­dioiso­topes to tar­get cer­tain neu­roen­docrine tu­mors.

Vas­ant Narasimhan, No­var­tis

The piv­otal da­ta for the drug — used to treat gas­troen­teropan­cre­at­ic neu­roen­docrine tu­mors that af­fect the pan­creas or gas­troin­testi­nal tract — from the NET­TER-1 study demon­strat­ed a 79% re­duc­tion in the risk of dis­ease pro­gres­sion, with an in­ter­im me­di­an pro­gres­sion-free sur­vival rate of 8.4 months that had yet to max out. The FDA had ini­tial­ly bat­ted back the ap­pli­ca­tion on Lu­tathera at the end of 2016, ask­ing for some ad­di­tion­al work on the da­ta, which de­layed the ap­proval.

There are about 7 cas­es of these tu­mors per 100,000 peo­ple in the US, a group which in­clud­ed Ap­ple founder Steve Jobs.

Now No­var­tis — which bought out the French biotech in late Oc­to­ber — can build on their OK for Afin­i­tor in ear­ly 2016 as a treat­ment for neu­roen­docrine tu­mors, as well as its mar­ket­ing of San­do­statin. The Basel-based phar­ma gi­ant al­so scored a pipeline that in­cludes 177Lu-PS­MA-R2, which is now en­ter­ing a Phase I/II study.

Su­sanne Schaf­fert

The deal rep­re­sents a sweet spot for the com­pa­ny as Vas Narasimhan tran­si­tions to the top job at the com­pa­ny. Ex­ecs want to stick with eco­nom­i­cal bolt-ons like this with a clear com­mer­cial pay­back in the cards.

“As the first PRRT (Pep­tide Re­cep­tor Ra­dionu­clide Ther­a­py) ever ap­proved in the US, Lu­tathera is in­tro­duc­ing a ma­jor ad­vance­ment in the treat­ment par­a­digm for these pa­tients that we hope will im­prove many lives,” said AAA pres­i­dent Su­sanne Schaf­fert. “We be­lieve nu­clear med­i­cine has the po­ten­tial to of­fer many ben­e­fits to can­cer pa­tients and will use this ap­proval as a foun­da­tion for the de­vel­op­ment of ad­di­tion­al tar­get­ed can­cer treat­ments uti­liz­ing ra­di­o­la­beled lig­ands.”

Baad­er Helvea an­a­lyst Bruno Bu­lic has been bull­ish on this drug, not­ing its po­ten­tial for re­plac­ing San­do­statin and go­ing on to earn about $2 bil­lion in peak sales.

Jim Mellon [via YouTube]

Health­i­er, longer lifes­pans will be a re­al­i­ty soon­er than you think, Ju­ve­nes­cence promis­es as it clos­es $100M round

Earlier this year, an executive from Juvenescence-backed AgeX predicted the field of longevity will eventually “dwarf the dotcom boom.” Greg Bailey, the UK-based anti-aging biotech’s CEO, certainly hopes so.

On Monday, Juvenescence completed its $100 million series B round of financing. The company is backed by British billionaire Jim Mellon — who wrote his 400-page guide to investing in the field of longevity shortly after launching the company in 2017.  Bailey, who served as a board director for seven years at Medivation before Pfizer swallowed the biotech for $14 billion, is joined by Declan Doogan, an industry veteran with stints at Pfizer and Amarin.

John Hood [file photo]

UP­DATE: Cel­gene and the sci­en­tist who cham­pi­oned fe­dra­tinib's rise from Sanofi's R&D grave­yard win FDA OK

Six years after Sanofi gave it up for dead, the FDA has approved the myelofibrosis drug fedratinib, now owned by Celgene.

The drug will be sold as Inrebic, and will soon land in the portfolio at Bristol-Myers Squibb, which is finalizing a deal to acquire Celgene.

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UP­DAT­ED: AveX­is sci­en­tif­ic founder was axed — and No­var­tis names a new CSO in wake of an ethics scan­dal

Now at the center of a storm of controversy over its decision to keep its knowledge of manipulated data hidden from regulators during an FDA review, Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan has found a longtime veteran in the ranks to head the scientific work underway at AveXis, where the incident occurred. And the scientific founder has hit the exit.

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Ab­b­Vie gets its FDA OK for JAK in­hibitor upadac­i­tinib, but don’t look for this one to hit ex­ecs’ lofty ex­pec­ta­tions

Another big drug approval came through on Friday afternoon as the FDA OK’d AbbVie’s upadacitinib — an oral JAK1 inhibitor that is hitting the rheumatoid arthritis market with a black box warning of serious malignancies, infections and thrombosis reflecting fears associated with the class.

It will be sold as Rinvoq — at a wholesale price of $59,000 a year — and will likely soon face competition from a drug that AbbVie once controlled, and spurned. Reuters reports that a 4-week supply of Humira, by comparison, is $5,174, adding up to about $67,000 a year.

The top 10 fran­chise drugs in bio­phar­ma his­to­ry will earn a to­tal of $1.4T (tril­lion) by 2024 — what does that tell us?

Just in case you were looking for more evidence of just how important Amgen’s patent win on Enbrel is for the company and its investors, EvaluatePharma has come up with a forward-looking consensus estimate on what the list of top 10 drugs will look like in 2024.

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UP­DAT­ED: Sci­en­tist-CEO ac­cused of im­prop­er­ly us­ing con­fi­den­tial in­fo from uni­corn Alec­tor

The executive team at Alector $ALEC has a bone to pick with scientific co-founder Asa Abeliovich. Their latest quarterly rundown has this brief note buried inside:

On June 18, 2019, we initiated a confidential arbitration proceeding against Dr. Asa Abeliovich, our former consulting co-founder, related to alleged breaches of his consulting agreement and the improper use of our confidential information that he learned during the course of rendering services to us as our consulting Chief Scientific Officer/Chief Innovation Officer. We are in the early stage of this arbitration proceeding and are unable to assess or provide any assurances regarding its possible outcome.

There’s no explicit word in the filing on what kind of confidential info was involved, but the proceeding got started 2 days ahead of Abeliovich’s IPO.

Abeliovich, formerly a tenured associate professor at Columbia, is a top scientist in the field of neurodegeneration, which is where Alector is targeted. More recently, he’s also helped start up Prevail Therapeutics as the CEO, which raised $125 million in an IPO. And there he’s planning on working on new gene therapies that target genetically defined subpopulations of Parkinson’s disease. Followup programs target Gaucher disease, frontotemporal dementia and synucleinopathies.

But this time Abeliovich is the CEO rather than a founding scientist. And some of their pipeline overlaps with Alector’s.

Abeliovich and Prevail, though, aren’t taking this one lying down.

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Chi­na has be­come a CEO-lev­el pri­or­i­ty for multi­na­tion­al phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies: the trend and the im­pli­ca­tions

After a “hot” period of rapid growth between 2009 and 2012, and a relatively “cooler” period of slower growth from 2013 to 2015, China has once again become a top-of-mind priority for the CEOs of most large, multinational pharmaceutical companies.

At the International Pharma Forum, hosted in March in Beijing by the R&D Based Pharmaceutical Association Committee (RDPAC) and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), no fewer than seven CEOs of major multinational pharmaceutical firms participated, including GSK, Eli Lilly, LEO Pharma, Merck KGaA, Pfizer, Sanofi and UCB. A few days earlier, the CEOs of several other large multinationals attended the China Development Forum, an annual business forum hosted by the research arm of China’s State Council. It’s hard to imagine any other country, except the US, having such drawing power at CEO level.

As dis­as­ter struck, Ab­b­Vie’s Rick Gon­za­lez swooped in on Al­ler­gan with an of­fer Brent Saun­ders couldn’t say no to

Early March was a no good, awful, terrible time for Allergan CEO Brent Saunders. His big lead drug had imploded in a Phase III disaster and activists were after his hide — or at least his chairman’s title — as the stock price continued a steady droop that had eviscerated share value for investors.

But it was a perfect time for AbbVie CEO Rick Gonzalez to pick up the phone and ask Saunders if he’d like to consider a “strategic” deal.

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CEO Pascal Soriot via Getty Images

As­traZeneca's jug­ger­naut PARP play­er Lyn­parza scoops up an­oth­er dom­i­nant win in PhI­II as the FDA adds a 'break­through' for Calquence

AstraZeneca’s oncology R&D group under José Baselga keeps churning out hits.

Wednesday morning the pharma giant and their partners at Merck parted the curtains on a successful readout for their Phase III PAOLA-1 study, demonstrating statistically significant improvement in progression-free survival for women with ovarian cancer in a first-line maintenance setting who added their PARP Lynparza to Avastin. This is their second late-stage success in ovarian cancer, which will help stave off rivals like GSK.

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