The list of the top 10 most ex­pen­sive drugs on the plan­et will soon have a new open­ing

The world’s most ex­pen­sive drug — and first gene ther­a­py — will soon be­come ex­tinct.

UniQure an­nounced this morn­ing that it has de­cid­ed not to seek the reau­tho­riza­tion au­thor­i­ty that would have been re­quired to keep this drug on the mar­ket past Oc­to­ber. But af­ter by­pass­ing the FDA as a lost cause and see­ing on­ly one re­port­ed use of the gene ther­a­py in Eu­rope, which pro­vid­ed a con­di­tion­al ap­proval, the com­pa­ny would pre­fer to stick with its new­ly re­fo­cused pipeline plan.

Matthew Ka­pus­ta

Matthew Ka­pus­ta, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of uniQure, said:

“Gly­bera’s us­age has been ex­treme­ly lim­it­ed and we do not en­vi­sion pa­tient de­mand in­creas­ing ma­te­ri­al­ly in the years ahead.”

MIT Tech­nol­o­gy Re­view re­vealed last year that the drug was be­ing kept on the shelf, as pay­ers re­quired a mas­sive ef­fort to get an ap­proval for use and ques­tions lin­gered about its longterm ef­fi­ca­cy.

list of the world’s most ex­pen­sive drugs re­cent­ly ap­peared, from Rein­sur­ance Group of Amer­i­ca, and we thought that this would be a good time to show you how, and why, a swelling group of pricey or­phan ther­a­pies has been hit­ting the mar­ket.

In a re­cent in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Kaiser Health News con­clud­ed that the law on or­phan drugs — which of­fers a num­ber of in­cen­tives, in­clud­ing sev­en years of mar­ket­ing ex­clu­siv­i­ty — had in­spired a long list of pricey new ther­a­pies. Here are the most ex­pen­sive ones, ac­cord­ing to an­nu­al list prices. There are undis­closed dis­counts avail­able.

1. Gly­bera – $1,210,000

Com­pa­ny: uniQure
Cat­e­go­ry: Rare dis­ease — EU on­ly
(ali­po­gene tipar­vovec)

The world’s first gene ther­a­py is the prici­est — and al­so one of the least used — ap­proved drug on the plan­et. OK’d on­ly in Eu­rope for lipopro­tein li­pase de­fi­cien­cy, pay­ers don’t want to cov­er this one. UniQure has had to re­struc­ture the com­pa­ny in re­cent months, tai­lor­ing R&D to fo­cus on the com­pet­i­tive he­mo­phil­ia B area, Parkin­son’s and a col­lab­o­ra­tion with Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb.

2. Rav­ic­ti — $793,632

Com­pa­ny: Hori­zon Phar­ma
Cat­e­go­ry: Rare dis­ease – or­phan drug
(glyc­erol phenyl­bu­tyrate)

Ap­proved ini­tial­ly for Hy­pe­r­i­on in 2013 as a treat­ment for urea cy­cle dis­or­ders, Hori­zon saw the po­ten­tial and ac­quired the com­pa­ny for about $1.1 bil­lion, boost­ing its port­fo­lio of rare dis­ease drugs.

3. Lu­mizyme — $626,400

Com­pa­ny: Sanofi – Gen­zyme
Cat­e­go­ry: Rare dis­ease – or­phan drug
(al­glu­cosi­dase al­fa)

This drug for Pompe’s dis­ease helped make the rare dis­ease field pop­u­lar in bio­phar­ma. Ap­proved in 2010, Sanofi liked the pro­file at Gen­zyme and bought out the com­pa­ny for about $20 bil­lion a year lat­er. The FDA hand­ed out their or­phan drug des­ig­na­tion for this drug in 1997.

4. Carbaglu — $585,408

Com­pa­ny: Recor­dati
Cat­e­go­ry: Rare dis­ease – or­phan drug
(car­g­lu­mic acid)

This drug treats rare cas­es of N-acetyl­glu­ta­mate syn­thase de­fi­cien­cy. Al­so ap­proved in 2010, there are on­ly a hand­ful of cas­es of NAGs dis­ease every year. The con­di­tion is char­ac­ter­ized by hy­per­am­mone­mia, en­cephalopa­thy, and res­pi­ra­to­ry al­ka­lo­sis and has fre­quent­ly led to the swift deaths of new­borns.

5. Ac­tim­mune — $572,292

Com­pa­ny: Hori­zon
Cat­e­go­ry: Rare dis­ease – or­phan drug
(In­ter­fer­on gam­ma 1-b)

Ap­proved for se­vere, ma­lig­nant os­teopet­ro­sis and chron­ic gran­u­lo­ma­tous dis­ease, rare ge­net­ic dis­eases, Ac­tim­mune not­ed last last year that the drug failed a Phase III for Friedre­ich’s atax­ia. Hori­zon ob­tained a sep­a­rate or­phan drug des­ig­na­tion for the drug when it de­cid­ed to mount the study.

6. Soliris — $542,640

Com­pa­ny: Alex­ion
Cat­e­go­ry: Rare dis­eases – or­phan drug
(eculizum­ab)

This is the drug that built Alex­ion, and its suc­cess has helped in­spire some new ri­vals to see if they can do it one bet­ter in parox­ys­mal noc­tur­nal he­mo­glo­bin­uria and atyp­i­cal he­molyt­ic ure­mic syn­drome. It’s al­so un­der re­view now for re­frac­to­ry gen­er­al­ized myas­the­nia gravis, which earned the com­pa­ny an­oth­er or­phan drug des­ig­na­tion.

7. Al­pro­lix — $503,880

Com­pa­ny: Biover­a­tiv
Cat­e­go­ry: Rare dis­ease – or­phan drug
(Co­ag­u­la­tion Fac­tor IX [Re­com­bi­nant], Fc Fu­sion Pro­tein)

This long-act­ing he­mo­phil­ia B med­i­cine was re­cent­ly spun out — along with Eolctate — from Bio­gen and So­bi in­to Biover­a­tiv, which start­ed out life with hun­dreds of mil­lions in cash and plans to build a rare dis­ease drug pipeline. Plen­ty of new drugs are in the works now that could rev­o­lu­tion­ize this field.

8. Idelvion — $500,000

Com­pa­ny: CSL Behring
Cat­e­go­ry: Rare dis­ease — or­phan drug
(al­butrepenonacog al­fa)

Ap­proved last year at the FDA, Idelvion is an­oth­er long-act­ing he­mo­phil­ia B drug that is the first in its class to in­clude the blood pro­tein al­bu­min. The drug is de­signed to re­place Fac­tor IX, a nat­u­ral­ly oc­cur­ring clot­ting fac­tor miss­ing in he­mo­phil­ia B pa­tients.

9. Naglazyme — $485,747

Com­pa­ny: Bio­marin
Cat­e­go­ry: Rare dis­ease – or­phan drug
(gal­sul­fase)

Naglazyme was orig­i­nal­ly ap­proved back in 2005 for mu­copolysac­cha­ri­do­sis type VI (MPS VI). On­ly a few dozen pa­tients are pre­scribed this en­zyme re­place­ment drug in the US every year.

10. Folo­tyn — $450,540

Com­pa­ny: Spec­trum Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals
Cat­e­go­ry: Rare dis­ease – or­phan drug
(prala­trex­ate)

This drug first be­gan at­tract­ing at­ten­tion for its price back in 2099, when it was priced at $30,000 a month af­ter be­ing ap­proved to treat rare cas­es of pe­riph­er­al T-cell lym­phoma. Al­los, which de­vel­oped the drug, de­fend­ed the price as in line with oth­er drugs for rare can­cers. Spec­trum bought out Al­los in 2012.

Susan Galbraith, AstraZeneca EVP, oncology R&D, at EUBIO22 (Rachel Kiki for Endpoints News)

Up­dat­ed: As­traZeneca jumps deep­er in­to cell ther­a­py 2.0 space with $320M biotech M&A

Right from the start, the execs at Neogene had some lofty goals in mind when they decided to try their hand at a cell therapy that could tackle solid tumors.

Its founders have helped hone a new approach that would pack in multiple neoantigen targets to create a personalized TCR treatment that would not just make the leap from blood to solid tumors, but do it with durability. And they managed to make their way rapidly to the clinic, unveiling their first Phase I program for advanced tumors just last May.

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Ei­sai’s ex­pand­ed Alzheimer’s da­ta leave open ques­tions about safe­ty and clin­i­cal ben­e­fit

Researchers still have key questions about Eisai’s investigational Alzheimer’s drug lecanemab following the publication of more Phase III data in the New England Journal of Medicine Tuesday night.

In the paper, which was released in conjunction with presentations at an Alzheimer’s conference, trial investigators write that a definition of clinical meaningfulness “has not been established.” And the relative lack of new information, following topline data unveiled in September, left experts asking for more — setting up a potential showdown to precisely define how big a difference the drug makes in patients’ lives.

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Illustration: Assistant Editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News

Twit­ter dis­ar­ray con­tin­ues as phar­ma ad­ver­tis­ers ex­tend paus­es and look around for op­tions, but keep tweet­ing

Pharma advertisers on Twitter are done — at least for now. Ad spending among the previous top spenders flattened even further last week, according to the latest data from ad tracker Pathmatics, amid ongoing turmoil after billionaire boss Elon Musk’s takeover now one month ago.

Among 18 top advertisers tracked for Endpoints News, only two are spending: GSK and Bayer. GSK spending for the full week through Sunday was minimal at just under $1,900. Meanwhile, German drugmaker Bayer remains the industry outlier upping its spending to $499,000 last week from $480,000 the previous week. Bayer’s spending also marks a big increase from a month ago and before the Musk takeover, when it spent $16,000 per week.

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Vi­a­tris with­draws ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval for top­i­cal an­timi­cro­bial 24 years lat­er

After 24 years without confirming clinical benefit, the FDA announced Tuesday morning that Viatris (formed via Mylan and Pfizer’s Upjohn) has decided to withdraw a topical antimicrobial agent, Sulfamylon (mafenide acetate), after the company said conducting a confirmatory study was not feasible.

Sulfamylon first won FDA’s accelerated nod in 1998 as a topical burn treatment, with the FDA noting that last December, Mylan told the agency that it wasn’t running the trial.

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Catal­ent to cut about 200 jobs in Mary­land and Texas

Contract manufacturing company Catalent is cutting about 200 jobs in Maryland and Texas, according to WARN notices, trimming back some of its pandemic-era expansion.

The company will cut 77 jobs by Jan. 15 of next year at a cell therapy facility in Webster, TX, just outside of Houston. In Maryland, the company is reducing staff at two locations, with 82 jobs being eliminated at Catalent’s facility in Gaithersburg, and 53 in Rockville. The layoffs go into effect at those locations on Jan. 14.

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Mar­ket­ingRx roundup: Pfiz­er, BioN­Tech re-up iHeartRa­dio hol­i­day spon­sor­ship; WHO re­names mon­key­pox to 'm­pox'

It’s that time of year again for pop music fans with the return of the iHeartRadio Jingle Ball tour — and Pfizer and BioNTech’s sponsorship. For the second year, the Covid-19 vaccine collaborators are the pharma national sponsors among consumer brand partners, including ESPN, Dunkin, M&Ms, Mercedes and Pepsi.

Pfizer and BioNTech are also sponsoring the official Jingle Ball Radio streaming station on iHeart’s network, programmed with music from past and present concert performers. This year they include Lizzo, Dua Lipa, Dove Cameron and Charlie Puth. Pfizer-sponsored radio ads and online video and digital banner ads encourage listeners to get updated Covid-19 booster shots.

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Mark Schneider, Nestlé CEO (AP Images)

Nestlé re­con­sid­ers peanut al­ler­gy pro­gram two years af­ter $2.6B buy­out

It seems Nestlé is experiencing some buyer’s remorse two years after throwing down $2.6 billion for Aimmune Therapeutics and its peanut allergy pill Palforzia.

CEO Mark Schneider announced on Tuesday that Nestlé is “exploring strategic options” for Palforzia following lower-than-expected demand. A company spokesperson declined to confirm whether a potential sale is in consideration.

“The review is expected to be completed in the first half of 2023. Going forward, Nestlé Health Science will sharpen its focus on Consumer Care and Medical Nutrition,” the company said in a news release.

iECURE CEO Joe Truitt and founder Jim Wilson

Jim Wil­son biotech iECURE gets fresh $65M to push pe­di­atric liv­er dis­ease gene ther­a­py in­to the clin­ic

Jim Wilson-founded biotech iECURE has wrapped a $65M Series A extension round to get its lead candidate — a gene replacement therapy for a rare inherited liver disease known as ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency, or OTC — into the clinic.

This round was co-led by Novo Holdings and LYFE Capital, followed by initial investors Versant and OrbiMed as well. In September 2021, iECURE raised a $50 million Series A led by the latter two. The new cash infusion will get iECURE through an initial in-human trial, which CEO Joe Truitt told Endpoints News iECURE hopes to read out in 2024.

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Tim Walbert, Horizon Therapeutics CEO (via YouTube)

Hori­zon Ther­a­peu­tics in takeover talks with Am­gen, J&J, Sanofi as po­ten­tial buy­ers

Amgen, J&J’s Janssen and Sanofi are all in talks to acquire Horizon Therapeutics, the rare disease biotech disclosed late Tuesday.

Horizon confirmed “highly preliminary discussions” with those companies regarding a potential buyout offer after the Wall Street Journal reported takeover interest.

Although the company — which commands a market cap of close to $18 billion — emphasized that “there can be no certainty that any offer will be made for the Company,” shares $HZNP still surged 31% in after-hours trading to near $103, bringing it to the point where it started the year.

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