Re­gen­eron/Sanofi cir­cle Oc­to­ber 28 on the cal­en­dar as the FDA be­gins a speedy re­view of the world’s 6th PD-1/L1 check­point

A Re­gen­eron/Sanofi team has a tar­get date for launch­ing the world’s 6th PD-1/L1 check­point in­hibitor. And while they may be late to the grow­ing league of ri­vals — dom­i­nat­ed by Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb and Mer­ck — they plan to en­ter with a mar­ket splash, with con­sid­er­able as­sis­tance from FDA reg­u­la­tors who are steel keen to ex­pand the field.

The FDA has agreed to give the PD-1 cemi­plimab a pri­or­i­ty re­view, say the bio­phar­ma part­ners, of­fer­ing a PDU­FA date of Oc­to­ber 28. That comes on top of the break­through ther­a­py des­ig­na­tion from last fall, un­der­scor­ing that reg­u­la­tors will move fast here. The de­vel­op­ers are push­ing hard for an ap­proval to use the drug as the first of the PD-1/L1 ther­a­pies for metasta­t­ic cu­ta­neous squa­mous cell car­ci­no­ma, a non-melanoma skin can­cer, who are not el­i­gi­ble for surgery.

That dead­line gives the Re­gen­eron/Sanofi team time to see if they can make a splash at AS­CO in a few weeks with da­ta from their sin­gle-arm Phase II tri­al. The EMA start­ed their re­view ear­li­er this month.

As­sum­ing they get a quick OK — and giv­en the ex­pe­ri­ence reg­u­la­tors have with PD-1/L1s and the rep these de­vel­op­ers are bring­ing to the ta­ble, that’s easy to do —  you can ex­pect the team to start look­ing to make up for lost time as they ex­pand the use of cemi­plimab. Both Re­gen­eron and Sanofi still have high hopes for the over­all mar­ket op­por­tu­ni­ty, as a line­up of ma­jors like Roche, As­traZeneca and Pfiz­er/Mer­ck KGaA grap­ple with the two top play­ers for a slice of a block­buster mar­ket.

John Reed

At the be­gin­ning of the year Re­gen­eron and Sanofi com­mit­ted an ex­tra bil­lion dol­lars to their war bud­get for cemi­plimab. It rep­re­sents the lat­est in a se­ries of big pro­grams from the part­ners, who are wind­ing down their an­ti­body al­liance. And it will like­ly line up as one of John Reed’s first wins as he re­places Elias Zer­houni at the helm of Sanofi’s glob­al R&D team.

Be­hind them is a grow­ing tsuna­mi of PD-1/L1 can­cer check­points, with a host of new com­bos look­ing to ex­pand their use and widen their im­pact. The Can­cer Re­search In­sti­tute ran a study that found 164 PD-1/L1s in the pipeline, from pre­clin­i­cal through mar­ket­ing stages. No­var­tis has one in de­vel­op­ment sole­ly for in-house use. And we may find a few thrown in as low-pried com­modi­ties, mak­ing check­point 2.0 more im­por­tant than ever for the lead­ers.

Re­gen­eron/Sanofi plan to be on the in­side, look­ing out.

Janet Woodcock (AP Images)

Janet Wood­cock to be act­ing FDA com­mis­sion­er while Biden team fi­nal­izes nom­i­nee — re­ports

Janet Woodcock is set to be the most powerful person at the FDA in less than a week.

The veteran regulator and longtime director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research has been tapped as acting commissioner of the FDA, according to reports by BioCentury’s Steve Usdin and Pink Sheet’s Sarah Karlin-Smith.

The appointment was requested by the incoming Biden team, Karlin-Smith added, as they sort out the nomination of a permanent successor to Stephen Hahn — whose one-year tenure has been defined by Covid-19.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 98,000+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Janet Woodcock (AP Images)

Janet Wood­cock is in the run­ning for FDA com­mis­sion­er — what does that mean for the agen­cy's fu­ture?

Just a day after reports emerged that Janet Woodcock will serve as interim chief of the FDA, word has gotten out that she is also in the running for the permanent job.

The decision, as the initial wave of reactions suggest, could have dramatic implications for where the agency is headed in the next four years — if not beyond.

Woodcock, the longtime CDER director, is being vetted alongside former FDA principal deputy commissioner Joshua Sharfstein, Bloomberg reported. Already tapped as acting head of the agency, she’s set to take over from Stephen Hahn right after Biden’s inauguration next week.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 98,000+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Steve Harr (L) and Hans Bishop

Paint­ing by the num­bers, Sana founders carve up a gi­ant uni­corn-sized IPO — for a biotech that has­n't quite made it to the clin­ic

Sana Biotechnology is one of those startups that was sketched in on the chalkboard day one in the shape of a unicorn.

A giant unicorn.

And from the numbers the cell therapy 2.0 play spelled out in their S-1 $SANA, it’s clear that the company founders — led by a pair of major VCs aligned with some high-profile industry figures — are hunting a big chunk of that value for themselves.

The raise they penciled in — $150 million — isn’t likely what they actually have in mind, and it doesn’t do justice to the size of their ambitions.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.

Eli Lil­ly re-ups di­ver­si­ty pledge, pitch­ing in $30M to ven­ture fund for mi­nor­i­ty-owned health­care firms

The fight against racial injustice spurred by a series of high-profile shootings of Black men by police earlier this year put Big Pharma and healthcare — industries targeted for their lack of diversity — in the hot seat. Eli Lilly made an early pledge to change its ways and put more back into the community, and now it’s continuing to make good on that commitment.

Lilly will infuse $30 million into the Unseen Capital Health Fund, a venture fund looking to invest in early-stage minority-owned healthcare companies that have been historically “unseen” by the investment community, the pharma said Friday.

CEO Brett Monia (Ionis)

Can Brett Mo­nia push Io­n­is be­yond Spin­raza?

For 30 years, Brett Monia struggled as one of Ionis’ top scientists to get their antisense technology to work. Now, as CEO, he’s trying to use it to turn Ionis into one of the industry’s biggest biotechs.

Monia, one of the handful of young scientists who in 1989 followed Stanley Crooke across the country from SmithKline (now GSK) in Philadelphia to found Ionis in Northern California, replaced Crooke as CEO last January. By then, they had proven antisense, an RNA-based method for manipulating gene expression, could work dramatically well in at least some instances, transforming spinal muscular atrophy with the Biogen-partnered blockbuster Spinraza.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 98,000+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

David Kessler in April 2009 (Eric Risberg/AP Images)

Covid-19 roundup: Hack­ers start re­leas­ing 'ma­nip­u­lat­ed' Covid-19 vac­cine docs; Ex-FDA com­mish David Kessler to re­place Mon­cef Slaoui as Op­er­a­tion Warp Speed chief — re­port

There’s a new twist on the EMA Covid-19 hacking story.

Friday the European agency put out the 5th in a series of statements about the hackers who broke into their system, noting that some of the information on vaccines that was gleaned in the attack is showing up online — altered to raise questions about the Covid-19 vaccines now in use.

This included internal/confidential email correspondence dating from November, relating to evaluation processes for COVID-19 vaccines. Some of the correspondence has been manipulated by the perpetrators prior to publication in a way which could undermine trust in vaccines.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 98,000+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

UP­DAT­ED: Am­gen tops cost watch­dog's price gougers list based on 'un­sup­port­ed' in­creas­es for En­brel with­out mean­ing­ful da­ta

In a top 10 ranking of the most egregious price gougers from 2019, Amgen’s Enbrel topped US cost watchdog ICER’s naughty list with “unsupported” markups that added as much as $403 million to the nation’s drug spend during that time.

Price increases for some of pharma’s most popular drugs have long been a focus of consumer ire, but the industry has argued those increases are routine and meant to cover the cost of R&D innovation. Without meaningful guidance at the state or federal level, ICER looked to connect how much a drug had progressed in the clinic compared with its increase in both wholesale and net price in 2019.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 98,000+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Albert Bourla, Pfizer CEO (AP Images)

#JPM21: Al­bert Bourla pre­pares Pfiz­er to set­tle in to next phase post-Up­john, but that does­n't mean he's rul­ing out deals

One of the iconic brands in biopharma, Pfizer took a big gamble on the strength of its in-house science when it decided to offload its flagging Upjohn generics business last year. Now, a more agile Pfizer is looking to cement its identity for the future, but one thing will stay the same: M&A is still very much a part of the game plan.

With its Upjohn generics business off the books, Pfizer is looking to double down on its branded medicines with the goal of hitting 6% annual growth each year — previously unheard-of at old Pfizer — while continuing to develop its blockbuster pipeline, CEO Albert Bourla said at a JP Morgan fireside chat Tuesday.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 98,000+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Stefan Oelrich (Bayer)

What can a 157-year-old phar­ma gi­ant bring to the ta­ble of cell and gene ther­a­pies? Quite a bit, Bay­er says

By now, Bayer has sketched out in bold strokes some grand plans for cell and gene therapy, cemented by big-dollar acquisitions of platform companies.

But just how do you stitch together a new unit bursting with the newest ideas within a storied pharma?

Stefan Oelrich, the head of Bayer’s pharma division, briefly lifted the curtain and spotlighted three key factors as he took the stage on a virtual media day, flanked by Emile Nuwaysir and Sheila Mikhail, the chiefs of BlueRock and AskBio, who each introduced their work in a way you’d expect from a biotech CEO.