Proven­tion Bio roller­coast­er con­tin­ues with gen­er­al­ly pos­i­tive re­marks from FDA ahead of Thurs­day’s ad­comm

Ear­ly last month, Proven­tion Bio’s shares cratered af­ter dis­clos­ing that the FDA found the phar­ma­co­ki­net­ic pro­files of its po­ten­tial type 1 di­a­betes drug, ac­quired from Eli Lil­ly, dif­fered when man­u­fac­tured by Lil­ly ver­sus Proven­tion.

At the time, the FDA said its con­cerns meant that it was not ready to start post-mar­ket­ing and la­bel dis­cus­sions with the com­pa­ny.

But now, two days ahead of the FDA’s En­docrino­log­ic and Meta­bol­ic Drugs Ad­vi­so­ry Com­mit­tee meet­ing to dis­cuss the drug, known as teplizum­ab, the FDA sound­ed a rel­a­tive­ly pos­i­tive tone on safe­ty and ef­fi­ca­cy. The com­pa­ny’s stock was up about 30% ear­ly Tues­day.

While not­ing some miss­ing da­ta from the com­pa­ny’s tri­als, the FDA said Tues­day that “be­cause the amount of miss­ing da­ta was small, sen­si­tiv­i­ty analy­ses per­formed us­ing dif­fer­ent miss­ing da­ta han­dling ap­proach­es show that the ob­served ef­fi­ca­cy by the pri­ma­ry analy­sis method is suf­fi­cient­ly ro­bust to with­stand con­ser­v­a­tive ap­proach­es in han­dling miss­ing da­ta.”

The ques­tion of what con­sti­tutes sub­stan­tial ev­i­dence of ef­fec­tive­ness will be top of mind for the com­mit­tee to ad­dress, FDA notes, ex­plain­ing how Proven­tion sub­mit­ted a rel­a­tive­ly small, sin­gle place­bo-con­trolled tri­al with the pri­ma­ry end­point of de­lay of clin­i­cal type 1 di­a­betes, as well as ad­di­tion­al da­ta, which FDA said can be used as “con­fir­ma­to­ry ev­i­dence.”

On safe­ty, the brief­ing doc­u­ments did not re­veal any glar­ing red flags, al­though the agency not­ed that “slight­ly more than 10% of pa­tients” in the tri­al “were not able to re­ceive the full course of teplizum­ab sec­ondary to meet­ing pro­to­col-spec­i­fied with­draw­al cri­te­ria.”

The com­mit­tee on Thurs­day will be tasked with not on­ly dis­cussing the clin­i­cal mean­ing­ful­ness of the ob­served me­di­an 2-year de­lay of on­set of type 1 di­a­betes demon­strat­ed in the com­pa­ny’s main study, but vot­ing on an up or down ap­proval ques­tion ahead of the FDA’s de­ci­sion, which is due by Ju­ly 2.

The Big Phar­ma dis­card pile; Lay­offs all around while some biotechs bid farewell; New Roche CEO as­sem­bles top team; and more

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With earnings seasons in full swing, we’ve listened in on all the calls so you don’t have to. But news is popping up from all corners, so make sure you check out our other updates, too.

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Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) (Francis Chung/E&E News/Politico via AP Images)

In­fla­tion re­bates in­com­ing: Wyden calls on CMS to move quick­ly as No­var­tis CEO pledges re­ver­sal

Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) this week sent a letter to the head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services seeking an update on how and when new inflation-linked rebates will take effect for drugs that see major price spikes.

The newly signed Inflation Reduction Act requires manufacturers to pay a rebate to Medicare when they increase drug prices faster than the rate of inflation.

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Trodelvy notch­es a win in most com­mon form of breast can­cer

Following a promise last year to go “big and fast in breast cancer,” Gilead has secured a win for Trodelvy in the most common form.

The drug was approved to treat HR-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer patients who’ve already received endocrine-based therapy and at least two other systemic therapies for metastatic cancer, Gilead announced on Friday.

Trodelvy won its first indication in metastatic triple-negative breast cancer back in 2020, and has since added urothelial cancer to the list. HR-positive HER2-negative breast cancer accounts for roughly 70% of new breast cancer cases worldwide per year, according to senior VP of oncology clinical development Bill Grossman, and many patients develop resistance to endocrine-based therapies or worsen on chemotherapy.

Giovanni Caforio, Bristol Myers Squibb CEO (Nicolas Messyasz/Sipa via AP Images)

Bris­tol My­ers turns at­ten­tion to new prod­ucts in wake of Revlim­id patent loss

Bristol Myers Squibb CEO Giovanni Caforio is shifting his focus to newer products as generic sales continue to gnaw at the company’s blockbuster myeloma drug Revlimid.

Both Revlimid and Abraxane sales took a dive last year thanks to generic rivals, BMS reported in its Q4 and full-year results on Thursday. As a result, Q4 sales dipped 5% and full-year sales remained flat. However, Caforio sees a silver lining — or rather, two of them.

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Rob Davis, Merck CEO

Mer­ck’s Keytru­da nears $21B in sales, dou­bles down on com­bo tri­als

Merck’s cancer immunotherapy Keytruda notched sales of $20.9 billion in 2022, cementing its status as one of the world’s top-selling drugs. However, it’s far from resting on that accomplishment.

Merck executives touted nine ongoing trials in its annual earnings call on Thursday, including five studies in Phase III, for Keytruda (pembrolizumab) in combination with other immuno-oncology drugs. The trials include combinations with Merck’s own developments as well as other pharma companies’ candidates, including its melanoma collaboration with Moderna and its mRNA technology plus Keytruda, aimed at creating a personalized vaccine treatment to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence or death.

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Uğur Şahin, BioNTech CEO (Andreas Arnold/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)

BioN­Tech opens new plas­mid DNA man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ty in Ger­many

German mRNA player BioNTech opened the doors to a new manufacturing facility on Thursday, this one just about 75 miles north of its headquarters in Mainz, Germany.

BioNTech announced on Thursday that it has completed the construction of its first plasmid DNA manufacturing facility in Marburg, Germany. The facility will produce materials for mRNA-based vaccines and therapies along with cell therapies.

FDA ap­proves GSK's ane­mia drug with safe­ty warn­ing — af­ter bat­ting back sim­i­lar drugs

GSK has secured the first of four US approvals it’s hoping for this year, as the FDA greenlit daprodustat as a treatment for anemia due to chronic kidney disease.

But the FDA limited the use of the drug, to be marketed as Jesduvroq, to patients who have been receiving dialysis for at least four months and stopped short of approving it for patients not dependent on dialysis — in line with the recommendations of the advisory committee it consulted.

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Photo: Julia Weeks/AP Images

FDA ax­es re­quire­ment for pos­i­tive Covid test be­fore Paxlovid use

FDA announced today that doctors and pharmacists can now prescribe Paxlovid to patients without a positive test for Covid-19.

CDER Director Patrizia Cavazzoni reissued Paxlovid’s authorization letter Wednesday, saying it has revised the authorization to “no longer require positive results of direct SARS-CoV-2 viral testing.” The EUA now requires instead that adults and kids 12 years of age and older have a “current diagnosis of mild-to-moderate COVID-19.”

Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen, Novo Nordisk CEO (Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

No­vo Nordisk notch­es big GLP-1 sales amid re­bound­ing sup­plies, but cau­tions on fu­ture 'pe­ri­od­ic con­straints'

With Novo Nordisk’s obesity treatment Wegovy fully back in stock in December, sales are beginning to soar, the Danish pharma reported during its annual earnings call on Wednesday. Total scripts of the glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) Wegovy topped 37,000 weekly in mid-January, a hockey stick uptick from end-of-year levels below 15,000 per week.

The new prescriptions come on top of the overall momentum of Novo obesity drug sales in 2022, although the then supply-constrained Wegovy was only part of that. Sibling obesity med Saxenda accounted for DKK 10.7 billion ($1.58 billion) of the total DKK 16.9 billion ($2.49 billion), or about 63%, in Novo Nordisk’s reported obesity segment sales.