Snubbed at the FDA, PTC files their three-time los­er for Duchenne MD over protest

PTC Ther­a­peu­tics $PTCT isn’t go­ing to let a slate of three con­sec­u­tive, failed stud­ies for ataluren block its re­view at the FDA. Us­ing the agency’s rules for ap­pli­ca­tions on drugs reg­u­la­tors have re­fused to file, the biotech says it filed over protest, us­ing reg­u­la­to­ry pro­ce­dures to force a PDU­FA date of Oc­to­ber 24.

PTC CEO Stu­art Peltz was frank about why the FDA wouldn’t ac­cept their ap­pli­ca­tion ear­ly last year. Reg­u­la­tors felt that the com­pa­ny had flat failed to make a case for the drug that was wor­thy of a re­view. And he’s been beat­ing on the FDA’s door ever since, de­spite the agency’s de­ci­sion to re­ject its first ap­peal, claim­ing once again that the “to­tal­i­ty” of the da­ta war­rant its ap­proval.

In a state­ment, the CEO said he would be “work­ing close­ly with the FDA and the DMD com­mu­ni­ty to bring this much-need­ed ther­a­py to pa­tients.”

Cur­rent­ly, the EU al­lows the drug to be sold af­ter grant­i­ng a con­di­tion­al ap­proval that now re­quires PTC to con­duct a new clin­i­cal tri­al over the next 5 years. PTC’s move to­day un­der­scores a dif­fer­ent set of stan­dards that reg­u­la­tors have ap­plied to drugs in the field.

While the FDA spurned PTC and re­ject­ed Bio­Marin’s dris­apersen, the FDA’s Janet Wood­cock over­rode the stren­u­ous ob­jec­tions of nu­mer­ous sub­or­di­nates who felt that Sarep­ta had nev­er made its case for eteplirsen. Pa­tients and fam­i­lies or­ga­nized a co­or­di­nat­ed cam­paign to win an ap­proval, though, and the drug is now sold as Ex­ondys 51 with a la­bel that says ef­fi­ca­cy of the drug has nev­er been es­tab­lished.

Jef­feries’ Gena Wang doesn’t give PTC very good odds.

We not­ed that the ‘fil­ing over protest’ has been rarely pur­sued and would be con­sid­ered as a new ap­pli­ca­tion pro­ce­du­ral­ly. We found two prece­dents – Phar­ma­cyclics’ Xcytrin in lung can­cer brain metas­tases (fil­ing over protest in Apr ’07, PDU­FA date of Dec 31 ’07 and non-ap­prov­able let­ter on Dec 21 ’07), and GSK’s Bexxar in Non-Hodgkin’s Lym­phoma (ini­tial fil­ing in 1999, and ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval af­ter fil­ing over protest in June ’03; with­drawn by GSK in 2013 due to in­com­plete post-mar­ket­ing tri­als).

“The bull ar­gu­ment for PTCT has been that eteplirsen’s ap­proval “opens the door” for ataluren,” not­ed RBC’s Simos Sime­oni­dis. “We def­i­nite­ly agree that both ap­pli­ca­tions are “less-than-per­fect” and, in our view, nei­ther one should have been ap­proved. But even though we dis­agreed with FDA on eteplirsen, we can un­der­stand their ra­tio­nale for ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval. The key and very sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence be­tween the two ap­pli­ca­tions is that we would char­ac­ter­ize the eteplirsen dataset as in­com­plete and the ques­tion of whether eteplirsen “works” in DMD as still unan­swered. This can­not be said about ataluren, where mul­ti­ple large, well-con­trolled, ran­dom­ized tri­als have been con­duct­ed. ” They all failed.

PTC ac­knowl­edged just days ago that its drug failed a late-stage pro­gram for cys­tic fi­bro­sis, adding to the ev­i­dence that the drug doesn’t work. Ear­li­er it failed a Phase IIb for Duchenne MD fol­lowed by an­oth­er flop in Phase III, de­signed to over­come the prob­lems the biotech saw ear­li­er.

Covid-19 roundup: Eu­rope pur­chas­es 80M dos­es of Mod­er­na's vac­cine; CO­V­AXX se­cures $2.8B in emerg­ing mar­ket pre-or­ders

With the announcement of its vaccine efficacy data last week, Moderna is starting to line up customers for its Covid-19 mRNA jabs.

The Massachusetts-based biotech announced Wednesday it has agreed to sell an initial round of 80 million doses to the European Commission, with the option to double the amount to 160 million. Once the member states rubber stamp the approval, the deal will be finalized.

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UP­DAT­ED: As­traZeneca, Ox­ford on the de­fen­sive as skep­tics dis­miss 70% av­er­age ef­fi­ca­cy for Covid-19 vac­cine

On the third straight Monday that the world wakes up to positive vaccine news, AstraZeneca and Oxford are declaring a new Phase III milestone in the fight against the pandemic. Not everyone is convinced they will play a big part, though.

With an average efficacy of 70%, the headline number struck analysts as less impressive than the 95% and 94.5% protection that Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna have boasted in the past two weeks, respectively. But the British partners say they have several other bright spots going for their candidate. One of the two dosing regimens tested in Phase III showed a better profile, bringing efficacy up to 90%; the adenovirus vector-based vaccine requires minimal refrigeration, which may mean easier distribution; and AstraZeneca has pledged to sell it at a fraction of the price that the other two vaccine developers are charging.

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Jason Kelly, Ginkgo Bioworks CEO (Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Af­ter Ko­dak de­ba­cle, US lends $1.1B to a syn­thet­ic bi­ol­o­gy com­pa­ny and their big Covid-19, mR­NA plans

In mid-August, as Kodak’s $765 million government-backed push into drug manufacturing slowly fell apart in national headlines, Ginkgo Bioworks CEO Jason Kelly got a message from his company’s government liaison: HHS wanted to know if they, too, might want a loan.

The government’s decision to lend Kodak three quarters of a billion dollars raised eyebrows because Kodak had never made drugs before. But Ginkgo, while not a manufacturing company, had spent the last decade refining new ways to produce materials inside cells and building automated facilities across Boston.

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Bax­ter con­tin­ues on-shoring push with $50M In­di­ana ex­pan­sion

It’s been a banner year for the once humdrum business of manufacturing drugs, particularly vaccines. Billions have been spent ramping up facilities for Covid-19 jabs, while individual CDMOs have expanded their facilities, apparently anticipating demand or responding to a government-led push to onshore drug manufacturing.

Now Baxter Biopharma Solutions, the CDMO wing of the many-armed healthcare giant Baxter, is getting in on the game. On Tuesday, they announced plans to spend $50 million to expand their flagship, 600,000 square-foot facility in Bloomington, IN.

Eu­ro­pean Union aims to es­tab­lish patent workaround in case of emer­gen­cies while try­ing to strength­en its own IP

The European Union is looking at ways to bypass patent protections and make it easier to make generic drugs in cases of emergency such as the Covid-19 pandemic, a new document says.

Normally, under WTO regulations, the practice known as “compulsory licensing” is allowed in exceptional circumstances and could be applied as a waiver to bypass patent holders. Wednesday’s document was published as part of the EU’s plan to shore up the intellectual property rights of its member states.

John Maraganore, Alnylam CEO (Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Al­ny­lam gets the green light from the FDA for drug #3 — and CEO John Maraganore is ready to roll

Score another early win at the FDA for Alnylam.

The FDA put out word today that the agency has approved its third drug, lumasiran, for primary hyperoxaluria type 1, better known as PH1. The news comes just 4 days after the European Commission took the lead in offering a green light.

An ultra rare genetic condition, Alnylam CEO John Maraganore says there are only some 1,000 to 1,700 patients in the US and Europe at any particular point. The patients, mostly kids, suffer from an overproduction of oxalate in the liver that spurs the development of kidney stones, right through to end stage kidney disease.

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FDA hands Liq­uidia and Re­vance a CRL and de­fer­ral, re­spec­tive­ly, as Covid-19 cre­ates in­spec­tion chal­lenge

Two biotechs said they got turned away by the FDA on Wednesday, in part due to pandemic-related travel restrictions.

North Carolina-based Liquidia Technologies was handed a CRL for its lead pulmonary arterial hypertension drug, citing the need for more CMC data and on-site pre-approval inspections, which the FDA hasn’t been able to conduct due to travel restrictions. The agency also deferred its decision on Revance Therapeutics’ BLA for its frown line treatment, because it needs to inspect the company’s northern California manufacturing facility. The action, Revance emphasized, was not a CRL.

News brief­ing: FDA re­quests new tri­al for Reata's Friedre­ich's atax­ia pro­gram; J&J's Trem­fya picks up ex­pand­ed la­bel in Eu­rope

Three months after Reata Pharmaceuticals suggested its Friedreich’s ataxia program omaveloxolone could be delayed, the company revealed that is indeed going to be the case.

Reata $RETA shares took a nosedive Wednesday after the biotech revealed that the FDA said supplemental data for its pivotal trial did not strengthen the case for approval. As a result, the drug is likely to need another study before the FDA takes up the case.

Jef­frey Hat­field takes over from Diego Mi­ralles as CEO of Vi­vid­ion; Drag­on­fly scores a new ex­ec with COO Alex Lu­gov­skoy

→ San Diego protein degradation startup Vividion Therapeutics has made a change at the top with Jeffrey Hatfield taking the helm as CEO, replacing Diego Miralles six months after Roche forked over $135 million to collaborate with Vividion on their small molecule degraders. Hatfield is chairman of the board at miRagen Therapeutics and previously held the CEO job at Zafgen and Vitae Pharmaceuticals. He also had a series of leadership roles at Bristol Myers Squibb from 1996-2004, including SVP, immunology and virology divisions.