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.

Fol­low­ing news of job cuts in Eu­ro­pean R&D ops, Sanofi con­firms it’s of­fer­ing US work­ers an 'ear­ly ex­it'

Ear­li­er in the week we learned that Sanofi was bring­ing out the bud­get ax to trim 466 R&D jobs in Eu­rope, re­tool­ing its ap­proach to car­dio as re­search chief John Reed beefed up their work in can­cer and gene ther­a­pies. And we’re end­ing the week with news that the phar­ma gi­ant has al­so been qui­et­ly re­duc­ing staff in the US, tar­get­ing hun­dreds of jobs as the com­pa­ny push­es vol­un­tary buy­outs with a fo­cus on R&D sup­port ser­vices.

Why would the FDA ap­prove an­oth­er con­tro­ver­sial drug to spur a woman’s li­bido with these da­ta? And why no ex­pert pan­el re­view?

AMAG Pharmaceuticals’ newly approved drug for spurring women’s sexual desire may never make much money, but it’s a big hit at sparking media attention.

The therapy — Vyleesi (bremelanotide) — got the green light from regulators on Friday evening, swiftly lighting up a range of stories around the world, from The New York Times to The Guardian. Several headlines inevitably referred to it as the “female Viagra,” invoking Pfizer’s old erectile dysfunction blockbuster.

But the two drugs have little in common.

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Which top 10 big phar­mas have the most to gain — or lose — over the next 5 years?

When Evaluate Pharma crunched the likely drug sales numbers for the big 10, 2 stood out. 

Takeda, with its big Shire buyout under its belt, is set to almost double its worldwide sales record for 2018 over 5 years, putting it in the big 10 — the 9th spot, to be exact — which is exactly where CEO Christophe Weber wants to be. 

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Roger Perlmutter. Merck via webcast

'Our lega­cy mat­ter­s': Mer­ck maps out Keytru­da king­dom while spot­light­ing ad­vances in vac­cines, hos­pi­tal care

“You can for the mo­ment stop tak­ing notes. You can put down your pens and your pad. I have no slides. I have no sub­stan­tive da­ta. I have no pitch.”

So be­gan Roger Perl­mut­ter’s brief ap­pear­ance on­stage at Mer­ck’s first in­vestor day in five years, where he dived in­to the com­pa­ny’s his­to­ry dat­ing back to 1933. The first em­ploy­ees at Mer­ck Re­search Lab­o­ra­to­ries, hand­picked by founder George W. Mer­ck, were crit­i­cal to Mer­ck’s abil­i­ty to achieve clin­i­cal and com­mer­cial suc­cess.

How small- to mid-sized biotechs can adopt pa­tient cen­tric­i­ty in their on­col­o­gy tri­als

By Lucy Clos­sick Thom­son, Se­nior Di­rec­tor of On­col­o­gy Pro­ject Man­age­ment, Icon

Clin­i­cal tri­als in on­col­o­gy can be cost­ly and chal­leng­ing to man­age. One fac­tor that could re­duce costs and re­duce bar­ri­ers is har­ness­ing the pa­tient voice in tri­al de­sign to help ac­cel­er­ate pa­tient en­roll­ment. Now is the time to adopt pa­tient-cen­tric strate­gies that not on­ly fo­cus on pa­tient needs, but al­so can main­tain cost ef­fi­cien­cy.

J&J's Es­ke­t­a­mine, at cur­rent price, is 'low val­ue for mon­ey' — ICER

For John­son & John­son’s $JNJ phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal ver­sion of the hal­lu­cino­genic anes­thet­ic ke­t­a­mine — es­ke­t­a­mine — to be cost-ef­fec­tive for use in treat­ment-re­sis­tant de­pres­sion in the long term, its list price must be cut by up to half, ICER con­clud­ed in its fi­nal re­port on Thurs­day.

Cog­nizant of the myr­i­ad of ap­proved an­ti­de­pres­sants that of­ten don’t work, the US reg­u­la­tor en­dorsed J&J’s es­ke­t­a­mine, brand­ed as  — Spra­va­to — in March for treat­ment-re­sis­tant de­pres­sion, con­scious that the orig­i­nal cat tran­quil­iz­er is fre­quent­ly used off-la­bel for se­vere de­pres­sion.

In starved an­tibi­ot­ic field, Melin­ta soars as FDA grants speedy drug re­view

Such is the state of af­fairs in an­tibi­ot­ic land that the FDA agree­ing to pri­or­i­ty re­view an ap­pli­ca­tion to ex­pand the use of an an­tibi­ot­ic can rock­et up a stock more than two-fold.

On Wednes­day, Melin­ta Ther­a­peu­tics said its ap­proved an­tibi­ot­ic Baxdela had been grant­ed pri­or­i­ty re­view for use in com­mu­ni­ty-ac­quired bac­te­r­i­al pneu­mo­nia (CAPB). The FDA is ex­pect­ed to make its de­ci­sion by Oc­to­ber 24. Shares of the Con­necti­cut drug­mak­er $ML­NT cat­a­pult­ed, clos­ing up near­ly 224% at $6.41.

Brent Saunders at an Endpoints News event in 2017 — File photo

An­a­lyst call with Al­ler­gan ex­ecs stokes an­tic­i­pa­tion of a plan to split the com­pa­ny in ‘a month or two’

So what’s up at Al­ler­gan?

Ear­li­er this week the ubiq­ui­tous Ever­core ISI an­a­lyst Umer Raf­fat was on the line with com­pa­ny ex­ec­u­tives to probe in­to the lat­est on the num­bers as well as CEO Brent Saun­ders’ re­cent de­c­la­ra­tion that he’d be do­ing some­thing de­fin­i­tive to help long-suf­fer­ing in­vestors who have watched their shares dwin­dle in val­ue.

He came away with the im­pres­sion that a sig­nif­i­cant com­pa­ny split is on the way. And not on some dis­tant time hori­zon.

John Reed at JPM 2019. Jeff Rumans for Endpoints News

Sanofi's John Reed con­tin­ues to re­or­ga­nize R&D, cut­ting 466 jobs while boost­ing can­cer, gene ther­a­py re­search

The R&D reorganization inside Sanofi is continuing, more than a year after the pharma giant brought in John Reed to head the research arm of the Paris-based company.

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