No­vo Nordisk's new obe­si­ty da­ta tip the scales in semaglu­tide's fa­vor as land­mark piv­otal pro­gram looms

No­vo Nordisk has rolled out new da­ta points to back its be­lief that their new­ly ap­proved GLP-1 di­a­betes drug semaglu­tide al­so has the in­side track on a block­buster des­ig­na­tion for obe­si­ty.

No­vo’s re­searchers took cen­ter stage at the En­docrine So­ci­ety’s an­nu­al con­fer­ence in Chica­go with a new round of Phase II num­bers show­ing that the drug spurred weight loss of up to 13.8% among a group of obese adults.

Al­to­geth­er 83% of peo­ple treat­ed with semaglu­tide 0.4 mg lost greater than or equal to 5% of their body weight — com­pared to 23% with place­bo and 66% with li­raglu­tide (Sax­en­da) 3 mg, which al­so fac­tored in the study. Right at 2 of every 3 pa­tients lost at least 10% of their body weight, com­pared to 10% in the place­bo arm and half that in the li­raglu­tide group.

Mads Krogs­gaard Thom­sen

No­vo Nordisk al­ready has sol­id ef­fi­ca­cy da­ta on weight loss among the di­a­bet­ics it treat­ed dur­ing its de­vel­op­ment pro­gram for the drug, which helped in­spire the com­pa­ny to make a big in­vest­ment in obe­si­ty.

Those col­lec­tive num­bers help set the stage for a big Phase III piv­otal pro­gram, which in­cludes 4,500 obese pa­tients and a mas­sive car­dio out­comes study in­volv­ing 12,500 peo­ple.

No­vo has set out to win in a field where there’s been noth­ing but dis­ap­point­ment and fail­ure for more than a decade. Just a few days ago Orex­i­gen was forced to file for bank­rupt­cy af­ter rack­ing up in­ad­e­quate sales of Con­trave. And that drug had al­ready beat­en out Qsymia and Belviq, two oth­er ther­a­pies from the same class of biotechs that com­pet­ed for the FDA’s at­ten­tion 5 years ago. Con­trave al­so out­per­formed No­vo’s Sax­en­da, which has a more mod­est im­pact on weight.

No­vo has plans to go be­yond semaglu­tide, work­ing on com­bi­na­tion ther­a­pies that may be able to trim as much as 25% of body weight, which would ri­val the per­for­mance of some pop­u­lar weight-loss pro­ce­dures.

Some an­a­lysts es­ti­mate the drug could be worth more than $2 bil­lion a year in sales 5 years from now. And No­vo will like­ly tout the weight loss that di­a­bet­ics can ex­pect as they launch a ma­jor mar­ket­ing cam­paign trig­gered by the FDA’s ap­proval of the drug last De­cem­ber as Ozem­pic. In this field man­u­fac­tur­ers look for every ad­van­tage they can get to beat the com­pe­ti­tion, which in this case is pri­mar­i­ly Eli Lil­ly and Sanofi.

“In line with our long-term com­mit­ment, we plan to start the STEP phase 3 clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme lat­er this year to ex­plore the po­ten­tial of once-week­ly semaglu­tide as a treat­ment for peo­ple with obe­si­ty,” said Mads Krogs­gaard Thom­sen, ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent and chief sci­ence of­fi­cer of No­vo Nordisk.

At the In­flec­tion Point for the Next Gen­er­a­tion of Can­cer Im­munother­a­py

While oncology researchers have long pursued the potential of cellular immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer, it was unclear whether these therapies would ever reach patients due to the complexity of manufacturing and costs of development. Fortunately, the recent successful development and regulatory approval of chimeric antigen receptor-engineered T (CAR-T) cells have demonstrated the significant benefit of these therapies to patients.

Stéphane Bancel, Moderna CEO

'This is not go­ing to be good': Mod­er­na CEO Ban­cel warns of a 'ma­te­r­i­al drop' in vac­cine ef­fi­ca­cy as Omi­cron spreads

Even as public health officials remain guarded about their comments on the likelihood Omicron will escape the reach of the currently approved Covid-19 vaccines, there’s growing scientific consensus that we’re facing a variant that threatens to overwhelm the vaccine barricades that have been erected.

Stéphane Bancel, the CEO of Moderna, one of the leading mRNA players whose quick vault into the markets with a highly effective vaccine created an instant multibillion-dollar market, added his voice to the rising chorus early Tuesday. According to Bancel, there will be a significant drop in efficacy when the average immune system is confronted by Omicron. The only question now is: How much?

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Ap­peals court puts the fi­nal nail in the cof­fin for Tec­fidera patent, adding to Bio­gen's bur­geon­ing set­backs

In another setback for Biogen, the big biotech lost its appeal to revive a patent for the once-blockbuster drug Tecfidera, marking a likely conclusion to the case.

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued the ruling Tuesday morning, saying Biogen failed to satisfy the “written description” requirement for patent law. As a result, Mylan-turned-Viatris will be able to sell its multiple sclerosis generic without fear of infringement and Biogen will have to find a new revenue driver elsewhere.

Philip Dormitzer, new GSK global head of vaccines R&D

Glax­o­SmithK­line poach­es Pfiz­er's vi­ral vac­cines lead in rush to cap­i­tal­ize on fu­ture of mR­NA

GlaxoSmithKline has appointed Philip Dormitzer, formerly chief scientific officer of Pfizer’s viral vaccines unit, as its newest global head of vaccines R&D, looking to leverage one of the leading minds behind Pfizer and BioNTech’s RNA collaboration that led to Covid-19 jab Comirnaty, the British drug giant said Tuesday.

Dormitzer had been with Pfizer for a little more than six years, joining up after a seven-year stint with Novartis, where he reached the role of US head of research and head of global virology for the company’s vaccines and diagnostics unit.

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In­tro­duc­ing End­points Stu­dio, a new way to ad­ver­tise with End­points-craft­ed brand­ing cam­paigns

Since our start in 2016, Endpoints has grown fast while executing our mission to cover biopharma’s most critical developments for industry pros worldwide. As readership has grown, our advertising business has too. Endpoints advertising partners support the mission and engage their desired audiences through announcements on our email and web platforms, brand recognition in our event coverage and sponsorships of Endpoints daily and weekly reports.

As lead drug runs in­to a wall, De­ci­phera slims down its pipeline, puts 140 jobs on the chop­ping block

Barely a month after disappointing data shattered hopes for a major label expansion for the GI tumor drug Qinlock, Deciphera is making a major pivot — scrapping development plans for that drug and discarding another while it hunkers down and focuses on two remaining drugs in the pipeline.

As a result, 140 of its staffers will be laid off.

The restructuring, which claims the equivalent of 35% of its total workforce, will take place across all departments including commercial, R&D as well as general and administrative support functions, Deciphera said, as it looks to streamline Qinlock-related commercial operations in the US while concentrating only on a “select number of key European markets.”

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How to use reg­istry da­ta to sup­port FDA de­ci­sion mak­ing: Agency ex­plains in new guid­ance

Drugmakers looking to design a new registry or use an existing one to support a regulatory decision on a drug’s effectiveness or safety will need to consult with a new draft guidance released Monday by the FDA.

The agency’s reliance on registry data for regulatory decisions dates back more than two decades, at least, as in 1998 Bayer won approval for its anticoagulant Refludan (withdrawn from the market in 2013 for commercial reasons) based in part on a historical control group pulled from a registry.

Tillman Gerngross (Adagio)

Till­man Gern­gross on Omi­cron: 'It is a grim sit­u­a­tion...we’re go­ing to see a sig­nif­i­cant drop in vac­cine ef­fi­ca­cy'

Tillman Gerngross, the rarely shy Dartmouth professor, biotech entrepreneur and antibody expert, has been warning for over a year that the virus behind Covid-19 would likely continue to mutate, potentially in ways that avoid immunity from infection and the best defenses scientists developed. He spun out a company, Adagio, to build a universal antibody, one that could snuff out any potential mutation.

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In­cor­po­rat­ing Ex­ter­nal Da­ta in­to Clin­i­cal Tri­als: Com­par­ing Dig­i­tal Twins to Ex­ter­nal Con­trol Arms

Most drug development professionals are familiar with the nerve-racking wait for the read-out of a large trial. If it’s negative, is the investigational therapy ineffective? Or could the failure result from an unforeseen flaw in the design or execution of the protocol, rather than a lack of efficacy? The team could spend weeks analyzing data, but a definitive answer may be elusive due to insufficient power for such analyses in the already completed trial. These problems are only made worse if the trial had lower enrollment, or higher dropout than expected due to an unanticipated event like COVID-19. And if a trial is negative, the next one is likely to be larger and more costly — if it happens at all.