Naomi Fried, PharmStars’ founder and CEO

Pharm­Stars dig­i­tal health match­mak­er adds Roche to phar­ma spon­sor team as it preps a new chal­lenge

Roche is the newest pharma to join digital health startup accelerator PharmStars, rounding up its sponsor list to seven. Roche joins AstraZeneca’s Alexion, Boehringer Ingelheim, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, Sumitovant Biopharma and Takeda as the pharma companies looking for digital health matches.

They’ll be looking next among the hopefuls already signing up for the just-announced fall challenge to source ideas and solutions around real-world evidence. Naomi Fried, PharmStars’ founder and CEO, said the latest digital health program is intentionally broad and could include everything from new biomarkers and endpoints to remote patient monitoring and new ways to analyze data.

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Big Phar­ma's Twit­ter ex­o­dus; Mer­ck wa­gers $1.35B on buy­out; $3.5M gene ther­a­py; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

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Paul Perreault, CSL Behring CEO

CSL lands FDA ap­proval for he­mo­phil­ia B gene ther­a­py, sets $3.5M list price

The FDA has approved the world’s first gene therapy for hemophilia B, ushering into the market a treatment that’s historic in both what it promises to do and how much it will cost.

CSL will be marketing the drug, Hemgenix, at a list price of $3.5 million — which sets a new record for the most expensive single-use gene therapy in the US.

In a statement provided to Endpoints News, the Australian company noted that the current costs of treating people with moderate to severe hemophilia B can be significant over a lifetime. By some estimates, healthcare systems could spend more than $20 million per person.

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Elon Musk (GDA via AP Images)

Biggest drug com­pa­nies halt­ed Twit­ter ad buys af­ter Lil­ly in­sulin spoof

Almost all of the drug industry’s biggest advertisers cut their spending on Twitter to zero or near-zero over the last two weeks amid worries about impersonation of their brands by pranksters and the future of the social media company.

Among 18 of the biggest pharmaceutical advertisers in the US market, 12 cut their Twitter ad spending to nothing for the week beginning Nov. 14, according to Pathmatics, which tracks data on prescription drug ad spending as well as general corporate advertising. The list of drugmakers cutting spending to zero includes Merck, AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, Novartis, Pfizer and others.

Rob Davis, Merck CEO

Up­dat­ed: No Seagen here: 'Do more' means a small $1.35B pur­chase of Ima­go for Mer­ck

Merck is making an acquisition, the Big Pharma announced before Monday’s opening bell. No, Seagen is not entering the fold, as had been speculated for quarters.

Folding under Merck’s wings will be Pfizer-backed Imago BioSciences. For nearly a year, Merck CEO Rob Davis has been saying the pharma giant needs to “do more” on the business development front after its 2021 $11.5 billion acquisition of Acceleron.

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Dermavant Sciences' first consumer TV ad for its Vtama psoriasis med shows people ready for a new topical treatment.

Roivant’s Der­ma­vant de­buts first-ever TV com­mer­cial for pso­ri­a­sis cream Vta­ma

Dermavant Sciences has been marketing its first product, psoriasis med Vtama, to dermatologists for months, but on Tuesday it rolled out its first consumer campaign. The debut DTC effort including a streaming TV commercial encourages patients to a “Topical Uprising” in a nod to Vtama being a topical cream.

In the new commercial, a swell of people discards scarves and jacket coverings, gathering in the street to converge on a pharmacy to demand a steroid-free prescription. A moment of levity follows when a pharmacist says, “You know you can just talk to your doctor, right?” The gathered crowds collectively says, “Oh.”

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Image: Shutterstock

MIT re­searchers re­veal DNA "Paste" tech be­hind lat­est gene edit­ing start­up

MIT scientists have developed a tool that they say can insert large gene sequences where they want in the genome.

In a paper published Thursday in Nature Biotechnology, MIT fellows Omar Abudayyeh, Jonathan Gootenberg and colleagues detail a technology they call PASTE, which they say can potentially be used to insert long strands of DNA and treat genetic diseases caused by many different mutations, such as cystic fibrosis and Leber congenital amaurosis, a rare eye disorder that causes blindness.

Harris Poll tracks another pharma reputation drop with consumers, notes industry 'inflection point.'

Phar­ma rep­u­ta­tion falls again, notch­ing dou­ble-dig­it down­turn over past year in US — sur­vey

The pharma industry’s reputation continues to slip in the US as consumers pack away its pandemic hero status. The newest survey from The Harris Poll shows the industry at a 45% positive rating last month, down 10 percentage points from the same time last year.

While 45% is still above the just 32% pre-pandemic low that the industry held at beginning of 2020, it’s also notably lower than the 62% high point in February 2021. The 10-percentage point pharma drop since last fall is also the biggest decrease across all the industries that Harris Poll tracks, said managing director Rob Jekielek.

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Mar­ket­ingRx roundup: Am­gen and Sto­ryCorps launch health eq­ui­ty se­ries; Ab­b­Vie's $40M math and sci­ence school opens

Amgen’s latest StoryCorps collaboration goes behind the scenes in patients’ lives for conversations about health inequity. The first 10 audio stories in the health equity series in Amgen’s “Every Patient Counts, Every Story Matters” campaign center on discussions between two people who know each other.

With StoryCorps’ priority to “listen, honor, share” as a guide, the personal chats between doctors and patients, best friends, husband and wife, and father and daughter offer an inside look at the trust issues and equity problems in healthcare.

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FDA preps for DMD drug gener­ics as Sarep­ta has yet to fin­ish its con­fir­ma­to­ry tri­al

The FDA typically releases guidance to help generic drug manufacturers develop new copycats of small molecule drugs, oftentimes in preparation for a brand name product’s patents or exclusivity to expire.

This week, FDA released such bioequivalence guidance for any generic drugmakers looking to take on Sarepta’s Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) drug Exondys 51 (eteplirsen), even though the drug’s sponsor has yet to convert the accelerated approval to a full approval, showing clinical benefit.