Sanofi, Re­gen­eron win a cru­cial stay of ex­e­cu­tion on Pralu­ent

Sanofi and Re­gen­eron’s Pralu­ent gets to stay on the mar­ket while the part­ners fight an­oth­er day in court for the PC­SK9 fran­chise.

Re­gen­eron $REGN an­nounced just af­ter the mar­ket closed on Wednes­day that the US Court of Ap­peals had grant­ed a stay of a con­tro­ver­sial de­ci­sion in ear­ly Jan­u­ary that Pralu­ent vi­o­lat­ed Am­gen’s patents on the ri­val PC­SK9 cho­les­terol drug Repatha, war­rant­i­ng its re­moval from the mar­ket.

With­out the stay, Pralu­ent would have been jerked in two weeks, an ex­tra­or­di­nar­i­ly rare move in bio­phar­ma, where patent fights are com­mon.

Ac­cord­ing to the de­ci­sion hand­ed down to­day:

Rule 8(a)(2) of the Fed­er­al Rules of Ap­pel­late Pro­ce­dure au­tho­rizes this court to grant a stay of an in­junc­tion pend­ing ap­peal.

Our de­ter­mi­na­tion is gov­erned by four fac­tors, the first two of which are the most crit­i­cal: (1) whether the movant has made a strong show­ing of like­li­hood of suc­cess on the mer­its; (2) whether the movant will be ir­repara­bly in­jured ab­sent a stay; (3) whether is­suance of the stay will sub­stan­tial­ly in­jure the oth­er par­ties in­ter­est­ed in the pro­ceed­ing; and (4) where the pub­lic in­ter­est lies.

See Nken v. Hold­er, 556 U.S. 418, 434 (2009).

With­out prej­u­dic­ing the ul­ti­mate dis­po­si­tion of this case by a mer­its pan­el, we con­clude based up­on the pa­pers sub­mit­ted that a stay is war­rant­ed here.

Am­gen says it has just be­gun to fight.

While we re­spect the Court’s de­ci­sion in stay­ing the in­junc­tion pend­ing the ap­peal, Am­gen re­mains con­fi­dent in the va­lid­i­ty of our patents and the cor­rect­ness of the ju­ry ver­dict and dis­trict court’s judg­ment.  We look for­ward to pre­sent­ing our case on the lack of mer­it in De­fen­dants’ ap­peal.

Now the fo­cus shifts back to the clin­ic as Re­gen­eron and Sanofi prep late-stage da­ta on car­dio out­comes, bad­ly need­ed now that Am­gen has de­clared its Phase III car­dio study FOURI­ER a suc­cess.

There’s no da­ta avail­able yet, but Am­gen re­port­ed that Repatha proved to sig­nif­i­cant­ly re­duce the risk of car­dio events in pa­tients with clin­i­cal­ly ev­i­dent ath­er­o­scle­rot­ic car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease. The drug al­so hit on an end­point for cog­ni­tive func­tion. That kind of ev­i­dence is es­sen­tial if any of these play­ers ex­pect to earn more than the mar­gin­al sums they’ve seen so far from these two drugs. With­out ev­i­dence of a re­al health ben­e­fit, in­sur­ers have been loathe to pro­vide cov­er­age. With it, they’ll find it hard to de­ny pa­tients much longer.

Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk gestures to the audience after being recognized by President Trump following the successful launch of a Falcon 9 rocket at the Kennedy Space Center. (via Getty Images)

Tes­la chief Elon Musk teams up with Covid-19 play­er Cure­Vac to build 'R­NA mi­cro­fac­to­ries'

Elon Musk has joined the global tech crusade now underway to revolutionize vaccine manufacturing — now aimed at delivering billions of doses of a new mRNA vaccine to fight Covid-19. And he’s cutting right to the front.

In a late-night tweet Wednesday, the Tesla chief announced:

Tesla, as a side project, is building RNA microfactories for CureVac & possibly others

That’s not a lot to go on. But the tweet comes a year after Tesla’s German division in Grohmann and CureVac filed a patent on a “bioreactor for RNA in vitro transcription, a method for RNA in vitro transcription, a module for transcribing DNA into RNA and an automated apparatus for RNA manufacturing.” CureVac, in the meantime, has discussed a variety of plans to build microfactories that can speed up the whole process for a global supply chain.

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George Yancopoulos (Regeneron)

Re­gen­eron co-founder George Yan­copou­los of­fers a com­bat­ive de­fense of the po­lice at a high school com­mence­ment. It didn’t go well

Typically, the commencement speech at Yorktown Central School District in Westchester — like most high schools — is an opportunity to encourage students to face the future with confidence and hope. Regeneron president and co-founder George Yancopoulos, though, went a different route.

In a fiery speech, the outspoken billionaire defended the police against the “prejudice and bias against law enforcement” that has erupted around the country in street protests from coast to coast. And for many who attended the commencement, Yancopoulos struck the wrong note at the wrong time, especially when he combatively challenged someone for interrupting his speech with a honk for “another act of cowardness.”

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Elias Zerhouni (Photo by Vincent Isore/IP3/Getty Images)

Elias Zer­houni dis­cuss­es ‘am­a­teur hour’ in DC, the de­struc­tion of in­fec­tious dis­ease R&D and how we need to prep for the next time

Elias Zerhouni favors blunt talk, and in a recent discussion with NPR, the ex-Sanofi R&D and ex-NIH chief had some tough points to make regarding the pandemic response.

Rather than interpret them, I thought it would be best to provide snippets straight from the interview.

On the Trump administration response:

It was basically amateur hour. There is no central concept of operations for preparedness, for pandemics, period. This administration doesn’t want to or has no concept of what it takes to protect the American people and the world because it is codependent. You can’t close your borders and say, “OK, we’re going to be safe.” You’re not going to be able to do that in this world. So it’s a lack of vision, basically just a lack of understanding, of what it takes to protect the American people.

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No­var­tis los­es biosim­i­lar ap­peal as court up­holds a 31-year mo­nop­oly by Am­gen's En­brel

A new court ruling has strengthened Amgen’s grip on the IP estate around Enbrel, keeping biosimilars of the autoimmune and inflammatory drug at bay until 2029.

Novartis, the patent challenger, isn’t throwing in the towel yet. In a statement noting the failed appeal, its generics division Sandoz noted its reviewing options, “including potential appeal to US Supreme Court.”

It’s been almost four years since the FDA approved Erelzi, Sandoz’s copycat version of Enbrel. While sales of the Pfizer-partnered drug in the US — the market Amgen is in charge of — have dipped slightly during that time, it remains a solid megablockbuster with 2019 revenue slightly above $5 billion.

Dan Gold, MEI Pharma CEO

De­vel­op­ment part­ners at MEI, Helsinn dump a high-risk PhI­II AML study af­ter con­clud­ing it would fail sur­vival goal

Four years after Switzerland’s Helsinn put $25 million of cash on the table for an upfront and near-term milestone to take MEI Pharma’s drug pracinostat into a long-running Phase III trial for acute myeloid leukemia, the partners are walking away from a clinical pileup.

The drug — an HDAC inhibitor — failed to pass muster during a futility analysis, as researchers concluded that pracinostat combined with azacitidine wasn’t going to outperform the control group in the pivotal.

Douglas Love, Annexon CEO (Annexon)

IPO bound? A Bay Area biotech grabs a mega-round on the road to a piv­otal neu­rode­gen­er­a­tion pro­gram

South San Francisco-based Annexon has added $100 million to its cash reserves, along with a new roster of marquee investors backing their play on the classical complement pathway involved in neurodegeneration. And that may well fit the profile for an IPO — though right now everything seems to be working on that score.

Eighteen months after Bain and their syndicate partners put up $75 million to fuel clinical work, Annexon is back at the trough. And this time they’re adding Redmile Group for the lead role, with supporting investments from these new arrivals: BlackRock, Deerfield Management Company, Eventide Asset Management, Farallon Capital Management, Janus Henderson Investors and Logos Capital.

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An ex­pe­ri­enced biotech is stitched to­geth­er from transpa­cif­ic parts, with 265 staffers and a fo­cus on ‘new bi­ol­o­gy’

Over the past few years, different teams at a pair of US-based biotechs and in labs in Japan have labored to piece together a group of cancer drug programs, sharing a single corporate umbrella with research colleagues in Japan. But now their far-flung operations have been knit together into a single unit, creating a pipeline with 10 cancer drug development programs — going from early-stage right into Phase III — and a host of discovery projects managed by a collective staff of some 265 people.

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New stan­dard of care? FDA hands Pfiz­er, Mer­ck KGaA an OK for Baven­cio in blad­der can­cer

The breakthrough therapy designation Pfizer and Merck KGaA notched for Bavencio in bladder cancer has quickly paved way for a full approval.

The PD-L1 drug is now sanctioned as a first-line maintenance treatment for patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma, applicable in cases where cancer hasn’t progressed after platinum-containing chemotherapy.

Petros Grivas, the principal investigator of the supporting Phase III JAVELIN Bladder 100, called the approval “one of the most significant advances in the treatment paradigm in this setting in 30 years.”

Pfiz­er shares surge on pos­i­tive im­pact of their mR­NA Covid-19 vac­cine — part­nered with BioN­Tech — in an ear­ly-stage study

Pfizer and their partners at the mRNA specialist BioNTech have published the first glimpse of biomarker data from an early-stage study spotlighting the “robust immunogenicity” triggered by their Covid-19 vaccine, which is one of the leaders in the race to vanquish the global pandemic.

Researchers selected 45 healthy volunteers 18-55 years of age for the study. They were randomized to receive 2 doses, separated by 21 days, of 10 µg, 30 µg, or 100 µg of BNT162b1, “a lipid nanoparticle-formulated, nucleoside-modified, mRNA vaccine that encodes trimerized SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein RBD.” Their responses were compared against the effect of a natural, presumably protective defense offered by a regular infection.

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