'Seeds of change' sprout in­to high­er pro­ject­ed re­turn on in­vest­ments for the bio­phar­ma in­dus­try, ac­cord­ing to De­loitte

Since 2010, De­loitte has been track­ing the re­turn on in­vest­ment that a hand­ful of top bio­phar­ma com­pa­nies might ex­pect to see from their late-stage as­sets. Last year, the com­pa­ny not­ed “seeds of change” fol­low­ing a six-year de­cline in av­er­age in­ter­nal rate of re­turns.

De­loitte’s lat­est re­port in­di­cates the trend has con­tin­ued this year, as pro­ject­ed R&D re­turns have risen from 2.7% to 7%, the largest an­nu­al in­crease since the study be­gan in 2010.

Son­al Shah

“We had ex­pect­ed an uptick in the IRR this year be­cause of the COVID vac­cines and ther­a­pies,” Son­al Shah, se­nior man­ag­er for the De­loitte Cen­ter for Health So­lu­tions, told End­points News. “But the fact that when you ac­tu­al­ly ex­clude them, you still see an in­crease, and we see this de­crease in R&D costs as well as a de­crease in cy­cle time was sur­pris­ing to me.”

When cal­cu­lat­ing IRR, De­loitte takes in­to ac­count a com­pa­ny’s to­tal R&D ex­pen­di­ture for bring­ing as­sets to launch, plus a fore­cast es­ti­mate of the fu­ture rev­enue that these as­sets could ex­pect to earn fol­low­ing launch.

From this year’s com­bined co­hort of 15 top-earn­ing com­pa­nies — which were not list­ed in De­loitte’s re­port — three achieved a fore­cast peak sales per as­set greater than $500 mil­lion in 2021, with six com­pa­nies im­prov­ing their pro­ject­ed peak sales per as­set com­pared to the year be­fore.

Along­side an in­crease in peak sales fore­casts, De­loitte not­ed that the cost to bring an as­set to mar­ket has de­clined over the last three years, which it at­trib­ut­es to “nov­el tri­al de­signs and im­prove­ments in ef­fi­cien­cy through the dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion of drug dis­cov­ery and de­vel­op­ment.” It’s al­so, in part, due to “very high” sales fore­casts for the com­pa­nies’ Covid-19 as­sets and one high-val­ue late-stage neu­ro­log­i­cal as­set.

How­ev­er, even if you ex­clude the Covid-19 re­lat­ed as­sets, the pro­ject­ed IRR for 2021 is still 3.2%, which is high­er than the 2.7% re­port­ed for 2020.

“This is a big re­ver­sal, af­ter al­most a decade-long de­cline in re­turns on in­no­va­tion. So the fact that that turn­around is hap­pen­ing in spite of Covid is re­al­ly ex­cit­ing,” Shah said.

While the av­er­age cost to de­vel­op an as­set, in­clud­ing cost of fail­ure, was at $2.376 bil­lion in 2020, that fig­ure de­creased slight­ly to $2.006 bil­lion in 2021, ac­cord­ing to De­loitte. How­ev­er, that de­crease is main­ly due to an in­crease in the num­ber of as­sets in the late-stage pipeline. And it’s still quite an in­crease from the av­er­age cost in 2013, which mea­sured in at $1.296 bil­lion.

De­loitte did note an in­crease in tri­al ef­fi­cien­cy, large­ly due to the rapid de­vel­op­ment of Covid can­di­dates. The com­pa­ny re­port­ed that Phase III tri­als for Covid as­sets were 3.7 times faster than non-Covid in­fec­tious dis­ease tri­als.

“Nev­er­the­less, de­spite the dip, the over­all cy­cle time for com­bined co­hort con­tin­ues to re­main above 2019 lev­els, re­in­forc­ing the need to op­ti­mise process­es or fun­da­men­tal­ly change the drug de­vel­op­ment par­a­digm,” the re­port states.

There was al­so an uptick in col­lab­o­ra­tion last year, with De­loitte not­ing that 46% of late-stage as­sets in 2021 were co-de­vel­oped, up from 32% in 2020. On­col­o­gy as­sets still dom­i­nate the group’s col­lec­tive pipeline, rep­re­sent­ing 35% of late-stage as­sets. As ex­pect­ed, the pro­por­tion of in­fec­tious dis­ease as­sets in­creased quite a bit in the last year, now oc­cu­py­ing 14% of late-stage pro­grams.

“We’re see­ing high­er-val­ue pro­grams, low­er ex­pense, and ul­ti­mate­ly more pro­duc­tiv­i­ty for the in­dus­try,” Shah said. “And a lot of that I’ll say re­flects the in­vest­ments the in­dus­try has been mak­ing over the last sev­er­al years in terms of dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies, re­al­ly look­ing at de­cen­tral­ized tri­als and more ef­fec­tive­ly and ef­fi­cient­ly run­ning clin­i­cal tri­als.”

Mar­ket­ingRx roundup: Pfiz­er de­buts Pre­vnar 20 TV ads; Lil­ly gets first FDA 2022 pro­mo slap down let­ter

Pfizer debuted its first TV ad for its Prevnar 20 next-generation pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine. In the 60-second spot, several people (actor portrayals) with their ages listed as 65 or older are shown walking into a clinic as they turn to say they’re getting vaccinated with Prevnar 20 because they’re at risk.

The update to Pfizer’s blockbuster Prevnar 13 vaccine was approved in June, and as its name suggests is a vaccine for 20 serotypes — the original 13 plus seven more that cause pneumococcal disease. Pfizer used to spend heavily on TV ads to promote Prevnar 13 in 2018 and 2019 but cut back its TV budgets in the past two fall and winter seasonal spending cycles. Prevnar had been Pfizer’s top-selling drug, notching sales of just under $6 billion in 2020, and was the world’s top-selling vaccine before the Covid-19 vaccines came to market last year.

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Graphic: Alexander Lefterov for Endpoints News

Small biotechs with big drug am­bi­tions threat­en to up­end the tra­di­tion­al drug launch play­book

Of the countless decisions Vlad Coric had to make as Biohaven’s CEO over the past seven years, there was one that felt particularly nerve-wracking: Instead of selling to a Big Pharma, the company decided it would commercialize its migraine drug itself.

“I remember some investors yelling and pounding on the table like, you can’t do this. What are you thinking? You’re going to get crushed by AbbVie,” he recalled.

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Albert Bourla (Photo by Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Pfiz­er fields a CRL for a $295M rare dis­ease play, giv­ing ri­val a big head start

Pfizer won’t be adding a new rare disease drug to the franchise club — for now, anyway.

The pharma giant put out word that their FDA application for the growth hormone therapy somatrogon got the regulatory heave-ho, though they didn’t even hint at a reason for the CRL. Following standard operating procedure, Pfizer said in a terse missive that they would be working with regulators on a followup.

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A new can­cer im­munother­a­py brings cau­tious hope for a field long await­ing the next big break­through

Bob Seibert sat silent across from his daughter at their favorite Spanish restaurant near his home in Charleston County, SC, their paella growing cold as he read through all the places in his body doctors found tumors.

He had texted his wife, a pediatric intensive care nurse, when he got the alert that his online chart was ready. Although he saw immediately it was bad, many of the terms — peritoneal, right iliac — were inscrutable. But she was five hours downstate, at a loud group dinner the night before another daughter’s cheer competition.

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Not cheap­er by the dozen: Bris­tol My­ers be­comes the 12th phar­ma com­pa­ny to re­strict 340B sales

Bristol Myers Squibb recently joined 11 of its peer pharma companies in limiting how many contract pharmacies can access certain drugs discounted by a federal program known as 340B.

Bristol Myers is just the latest in a series of high-profile pharma companies moving in their own direction as the Biden administration’s Health Resources and Services Administration struggles to rein in the drug discount program for the neediest Americans.

Joaquin Duato, J&J CEO (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

New J&J CEO Joaquin Du­a­to promis­es an ag­gres­sive M&A hunt in quest to grow phar­ma sales

Joaquin Duato stepped away from the sideline and directly into the spotlight on Tuesday, delivering his first quarterly review for J&J as its newly-tapped CEO after an 11-year run in senior posts. And he had some mixed financial news to deliver today while laying claim to a string of blockbuster drugs in the making and outlining an appetite for small and medium-sized M&A deals.

Duato also didn’t exactly shun large buyouts when asked about the future of the company’s medtech business — where they look to be in either the top or number 2 position in every segment they’re in — even though the bar for getting those deals done is so much higher.

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

Opin­ion: Flori­da is so mAb crazy, Ron De­San­tis wants to use mAbs that don't work

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is trying so hard to politicize the FDA and demonize the federal government that he entered into an alternate universe on Monday evening in describing a recent FDA action to restrict the use of two monoclonal antibody, or mAb, treatments for Covid-19 that don’t work against Omicron.

Without further ado, let’s break down his statement from last night, line by line, adjective by adjective.

Amgen's Twitter campaign #DearAsthma inspired thousands of people to express struggles and frustrations with the disease

Am­gen’s #Dear­Asth­ma spon­sored tweet lands big on game day, spark­ing thou­sands to re­spond

Amgen wanted to know how people with asthma really felt about daily life with the disease. So it bought a promoted tweet on Twitter noting the not-so-simple realities of life with asthma and ended the post with a #DearAsthma hashtag, a megaphone emoji and a re-tweet button.

That was just over one week ago and the responses haven’t stopped. More than 7,000 posts so far on Twitter replied to #DearAsthma to detail struggles of daily life, expressing humor, frustration and sometimes anger. More than a few f-bombs have been typed or gif-ed in reply to communicate just how much many people “hate” the disease.

Pfiz­er, Bris­tol My­ers dom­i­nate top 10 pre­dic­tions for the best-sell­ing drugs of 2022

The annual exercise where analysts try and predict which drugs will become blockbusters and make the most money tends to highlight the biggest trends in biopharma R&D. 2022 is no exception.

The team at Evaluate Vantage published its predictions for the top 10 selling drugs for the year — expecting tens of billions of dollars in sales and highlighting an industry-wide focus on certain diseases and indications.

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