Re­gen­eron makes a block­buster case for its PhI­II drug pipeline

While Bio­gen is strug­gling to get its pipeline to per­form, Re­gen­eron ex­ecs put on a demon­stra­tion to­day on how a biotech com­pa­ny with a sec­ond-tier R&D bud­get can per­form bet­ter on the late-stage front than much big­ger com­pa­nies spend­ing much more on re­search. And it led off with bull­ish re­marks on a pair of would-be block­busters, in­clud­ing their top Phase III drug dupilum­ab.

Dur­ing their sec­ond quar­ter re­view, the ex­ec­u­tive team not­ed:

— Sar­ilum­ab is up for an Oc­to­ber 30 PDU­FA date at the FDA, with a re­cent Eu­ro­pean fil­ing at the EMA to fol­low up on. Peak sales es­ti­mates top $1 bil­lion for this drug, which beat megablock­buster Hu­mi­ra in a head-to-head study on rheuma­toid arthri­tis. This will like­ly be the sec­ond drug part­nered with Sanofi to hit the mar­ket – the first was the PC­SK9 drug Pralu­ent, which has had a slow up­take since its in­tro­duc­tion.

— It’s dupilum­ab, though, that is get­ting the full red car­pet treat­ment at Re­gen­eron. The IL-4/IL-13 block­ing drug – al­so part­nered with Sanofi – is ex­pect­ed to get ap­proved in the first half of 2017. Most an­a­lysts note that with stel­lar Phase III da­ta from a slate of atopic der­mati­tis stud­ies, along with the FDA’s break­through drug des­ig­na­tion to help speed things along, that ap­proval is like­ly to land ear­ly. Peak sales es­ti­mates tend to hov­er around $2.5 bil­lion a year, mak­ing it a con­tender to be­come a top 2017 drug. Some op­ti­mistic sell-siders have pushed their peak es­ti­mates to $4 bil­lion or $5 bil­lion.

R&D chief George Yan­copou­los

“Dupilum­ab is re­al­ly a fran­chise un­to it­self,” says R&D chief George Yan­copou­los in the Q2 call with an­a­lysts to­day. The pos­i­tive da­ta in atopic der­mati­tis has spurred their be­lief that the drug has “huge” po­ten­tial. There’s al­ready sig­nif­i­cant pent­up de­mand from pa­tients who ei­ther don’t re­spond to cur­rent­ly avail­able reme­dies or can’t tol­er­ate them, says Re­gen­eron’s ex­ec­u­tive team. There’s al­so no oth­er com­pe­ti­tion in the late-stage pipeline to con­tend with.

“This re­al­ly has a chance to pro­vide some­thing to pa­tients that don’t have any oth­er al­ter­na­tives at this point,” says Yan­copou­los. And the com­pa­ny is push­ing ahead in asth­ma and oth­er in­di­ca­tions, look­ing to push the bound­aries on its fran­chise po­ten­tial.

— Then there’s REGN 2810, a PD-1 check­point drug al­so part­nered with Sanofi which is al­ready in a pos­si­ble piv­otal study. This is part of an­oth­er am­bi­tious col­lab­o­ra­tion deal with Sanofi, which is look­ing to fi­nal­ly get things go­ing in the can­cer are­na.

Re­gen­eron al­so has a brand new al­liance of its own with Adicet and its CEO, Aya Jakobovits, who earned a big en­dorse­ment from Yan­copou­los.

“We re­al­ly be­lieve in peo­ple and we be­lieve in syn­er­gies,” says the R&D chief, tout­ing a match-up on Adicet’s off-the-shelf ap­proach to de­vel­op­ing cell ther­a­pies. “We have had a long­stand­ing in­ter­est to work with Aya Jakobovits. We have enor­mous re­spect for her and her ca­pa­bil­i­ties.”

Be­yond that, though, Yan­capou­los wasn’t say­ing much about the tech­nol­o­gy and what dis­tin­guish­es it from ri­vals in the field.

— And fi­nal­ly there’s fas­inum­ab (REGN475), an an­ti-NGF pain drug for os­teoarthri­tis, which is up against some com­pe­ti­tion af­ter Pfiz­er and Eli Lil­ly got things go­ing again af­ter a long pause to as­sess safe­ty is­sues. Pa­tients had a bad habit of blow­ing out their joints af­ter tak­ing the drug, and de­vel­op­ers had to be care­ful to ex­clude pa­tients at risk.

Put it all to­geth­er, and Re­gen­eron’s rel­a­tive­ly mod­est $1.5 bil­lion R&D bud­get – aug­ment­ed by Sanofi – is out­per­form­ing most of its peers, and many much larg­er com­pa­nies that have yet to nail down a suc­cess­ful R&D strat­e­gy.

Ab­b­Vie wins an ap­proval in uter­ine fi­broid-as­so­ci­at­ed heavy bleed­ing. Are ri­vals My­ovant and Ob­sE­va far be­hind?

Women expel on average about 2 to 3 tablespoons of blood during their time of the month. But with uterine fibroids, heavy bleeding is typical — a third of a cup or more. Drugmakers have been working on oral therapies to try and stem the flow, and as expected, AbbVie and their partners at Neurocrine Biosciences are the first to make it across the finish line.

Known chemically as elagolix, the drug is already approved as a treatment for endometriosis under the brand name Orilissa. It targets the GnRH receptor to decrease the production of estrogen and progesterone.

As­traZeneca trum­pets the 'mo­men­tous' da­ta they found for Tagris­so in an ad­ju­vant set­ting for NSCLC — but many of the ex­perts aren’t cheer­ing along

AstraZeneca is rolling out the big guns this evening to provide a salute to their ADAURA data on Tagrisso at ASCO.

Cancer R&D chief José Baselga calls the disease-free survival data for their drug in an adjuvant setting of early stage, epidermal growth factor receptor-mutated NSCLC patients following surgery “momentous.” Roy Herbst, the principal investigator out of Yale, calls it “transformative.”

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David Chang, Allogene CEO (Jeff Rumans)

Head­ed to PhII: Al­lo­gene CEO David Chang com­pletes a pos­i­tive ear­ly snap­shot of their off-the-shelf CAR-T pi­o­neer

Allogene CEO David Chang has completed the upbeat first portrait of the biotech’s off-the-shelf CAR-T contender ALLO-501 at virtual ASCO today, keeping all eyes on a drug that will now try to go on to replace the first-wave personalized pioneers he helped create.

The overall response rate outlined in Allogene’s abstract for treatment-resistant patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma slipped a little from the leadup, but if you narrow the patient profile to treatment-naïve patients — removing the 3 who had previous CAR-T therapy who didn’t respond, leaving 16 — the ORR lands at 75% with a 44% complete response rate. And 9 of the 12 responders remained in response at the data cutoff, offering a glimpse on durability that still has a long way to go before it can be completely nailed down.

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Pablo Legorreta, founder and CEO of Royalty Pharma AG, speaks at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Cap­i­tal­iz­ing Pablo: The world’s biggest drug roy­al­ty buy­er is go­ing pub­lic. And the low-key CEO di­vulges a few se­crets along the way

Pablo Legorreta is one of the most influential players in biopharma you likely never heard of.

Over the last 24 years, Legorreta’s Royalty Pharma group has become, by its own reckoning, the biggest buyer of drug royalties in the world. The CEO and founder has bought up a stake in a lengthy list of the world’s biggest drug franchises, spending $18 billion in the process — $2.2 billion last year alone. And he’s become one of the best-paid execs in the industry, reaping $28 million from the cash flow last year while reserving 20% of the cash flow, less expenses, for himself.

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Fabrice Chouraqui, Cellarity CEO-partner (LinkedIn)

Drug de­vel­op­er, Big Phar­ma com­mer­cial ex­ec, now an up­start biotech chief — Fab­rice Chouraqui is ready to try some­thing new as a ‘CEO-part­ner’ at Flag­ship

Fabrice Chouraqui’s career has taken some big twists along his life journey. He got his PharmD at Université Paris Descartes and jumped into the drug development game for a bit. Then he took a sharp turn and went back to school to get his MBA at Insead before returning to pharma on the commercial side.

Twenty years later, after steadily rising through the ranks and journeying the globe to nab a top job as president of US pharma for the Basel-based Novartis, Chouraqui exited in another career switch. And now he’s headed into a hybrid position as a CEO-partner at Flagship, where he’ll take a shot at leading Cellarity — one of the VC’s latest paradigm-changing companies of the groundbreaking model that aspires to deliver a new platform to the world of drug R&D.

Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Getty Images)

Sanofi CEO Paul Hud­son has $23B burn­ing a hole in his pock­et. And here are some hints on how he plans to spend that

Sanofi has reaped $11.1 billion after selling off a big chunk of its Regeneron stock at $515 a share. And now everyone on the M&A side of the business is focused on how CEO Paul Hudson plans to spend it.

After getting stung in France for some awkward politicking — suggesting the US was in the front of the line for Sanofi’s vaccines given American financial support for their work, versus little help from European powers — Hudson now has the much more popular task of managing a major cash cache to pull off something in the order of a big bolt-on. Or two.

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Roger Perlmutter, Merck R&D chief (YouTube)

UP­DAT­ED: Backed by BAR­DA, Mer­ck jumps in­to Covid-19: buy­ing out a vac­cine, part­ner­ing on an­oth­er and adding an­tivi­ral to the mix

Merck execs are making a triple play in a sudden leap into the R&D campaign against Covid-19. And they have more BARDA cash backing them up on the move.

Tuesday morning the pharma giant simultaneously announced plans to buy an Austrian biotech that has been working on a preclinical vaccine candidate, added a collaboration on another vaccine with the nonprofit IAVI and inked a deal with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics on an early-stage antiviral.

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As­traZeneca’s $7B ADC suc­ceeds where Roche failed, im­prov­ing sur­vival in gas­tric can­cer

Another day, another win for Enhertu.

The antibody-drug conjugate AstraZeneca promised up-to $7 billion to partner on has had a quite a few months, beginning with splashy results in a Phase II breast cancer trial, a rapid approval and, earlier this month, breakthrough designations in both non-small cell lung cancer and gastric cancer.

Now, at ASCO, the British pharma and their Japanese partner, Daiichi Sankyo, have shown off the data that led to the gastric cancer designation, which they’ll take back to the FDA. In a pivotal, 187-person Phase II trial, Enhertu shrunk tumors in 42.9% of third-line patients with HER2-positive stomach cancer, compared with 12.5% in a control arm where doctors prescribed their choice of therapy. Progression-free survival was 5.4 months for Enhertu compared to 3.5 months for the control.

Once a gem, now just a rock, Take­da punts PhI­II IBD drug as ri­vals mus­cle ahead

Back in 2016, when then-Shire CEO Flemming Ørnskov picked up a promising clinical-stage IBD drug from Pfizer, the Boston-based biotech dubbed it SHP647 and moved it into the gem section of the pipeline, with rosy expectations of registration-worthy Phase III data ahead.

This was a drug that the EC wanted Takeda to commit to selling off before it gave their blessing to its acquisition of Shire, to settle some deep-seated concerns revolving around the potential market overlap with their blockbuster rival Entyvio. And Takeda, which took on a heavy debt load to buy Shire, clearly wanted the cash to pay down debt.