Trump’s bud­get takes a big bite out of the NIH, with big new fees for bio­phar­ma

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s new bud­get is hit­ting the ta­ble to­day and bio­med­ical re­search is out, FDA fees are up and mil­i­tary spend­ing is in.

The Wash­ing­ton Post got the de­bate start­ed ear­ly Thurs­day, re­veal­ing that the new bud­get in­cludes an enor­mous $5.8 bil­lion cut in the NIH’s bud­get, close to 20%.

To get that, Trump’s team en­vi­sions a ma­jor re­or­ga­ni­za­tion of the NIH, which funds thou­sands of re­search projects and pro­vides much of the foun­da­tion work for pre­clin­i­cal drug re­search. The NIH has al­so been mov­ing more in­to trans­la­tion­al ef­forts aimed at vault­ing these pro­grams ahead, with an eye to see­ing more drugs point­ed to the mar­ket.

The de­tails are lack­ing, but the Post high­lights one pro­gram that is clear­ly on the chop­ping block. The Fog­a­r­ty In­ter­na­tion­al Cen­ter, which builds ties among re­search in­sti­tutes, is slat­ed to be axed in the bud­get. But that’s just a drop in the buck­et if any­thing close to these kinds of cuts are made. A dras­tic change at the NIH would like­ly elim­i­nate a large num­ber of aca­d­e­m­ic re­search ef­forts around the coun­try.

Reuters, mean­while, re­ports that the bud­get in­cludes an added bill for bio­phar­ma. The FDA is sup­posed to get $2 bil­lion of its bud­get from the in­dus­try fees it charges. That’s dou­ble what the in­dus­try cur­rent­ly pays.

The pay­back is a fre­quent­ly promised im­prove­ment in speed­ing drug de­vel­op­ment, some­thing most peo­ple in the in­dus­try still view with deep skep­ti­cism. First, the agency is gen­er­al­ly seen as re­spon­sive now, though ca­pa­ble of im­prove­ment, with lit­tle ap­petite for rad­i­cal change. Sec­ond, the promised re­form may not come close to hav­ing the kind of pos­i­tive ef­fect that Trump keeps in­sist­ing he can de­liv­er al­most overnight.

The fees, though, would be very re­al.

It’s still ear­ly, but sci­en­tif­ic in­ter­ests in the coun­try, which re­cent­ly won a hard-fought in­crease of the NIH bud­get, will come out swing­ing on this one. And they have some al­lies in both ma­jor par­ties. Don’t look for in­dus­try lob­by­ing groups to cheer any in­crease in fees, ei­ther. But with ma­jor tax re­form on the line, crit­i­cism may be mut­ed in pub­lic fo­rums.

'Chang­ing the whole game of drug dis­cov­ery': Leg­endary R&D vet Roger Perl­mut­ter leaps back in­to work as a biotech CEO

Roger Perlmutter needs no introduction to anyone remotely involved in biopharma. As the R&D chief first at Amgen and then Merck, he’s built a stellar reputation and a prolific career steering new drugs toward the market for everything from cancer to infectious diseases.

But for years, he’s also held a less known title: science partner at The Column Group, where he’s regularly consulted about the various ideas the VCs had for new startups.

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The DCT-OS: A Tech­nol­o­gy-first Op­er­at­ing Sys­tem - En­abling Clin­i­cal Tri­als

As technology-enabled clinical research becomes the new normal, an integrated decentralized clinical trial operating system can ensure quality, deliver consistency and improve the patient experience.

The increasing availability of COVID-19 vaccines has many of us looking forward to a time when everyday things return to a state of normal. Schools and teachers are returning to classrooms, offices and small businesses are reopening, and there’s a palpable sense of optimism that the often-awkward adjustments we’ve all made personally and professionally in the last year are behind us, never to return. In the world of clinical research, however, some pandemic-necessitated adjustments are proving to be more than emergency stopgap measures to ensure trial continuity — and numerous decentralized clinical trial (DCT) tools and methodologies employed within the last year are likely here to stay as part of biopharma’s new normal.

UP­DAT­ED: Pfiz­er hits the brakes on their piv­otal tri­al for a BC­MA/CD3 bis­pe­cif­ic on safe­ty con­cerns while FDA road­block is hold­ing up Duchenne MD PhI­II

Pfizer’s ambitious plan to take a Phase II study of its BCMA CD3-targeted bispecific antibody elranatamab (PF-06863135) and run it through to an accelerated approval has derailed.

The pharma giant said in a release this morning that they have halted enrollment for their MagnetisMM-3 study after researchers tracked three cases of peripheral neuropathy in the ongoing Phase I. They are now sharing info with the FDA as they explore the red safety flag.

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FDA ex­tends re­search agree­ment with MIT-li­censed or­gan-on-chip sys­tems

The FDA on Wednesday extended its four-year agreement with CN Bio, a developer of single- and multi-organ-on-chip systems used for drug discovery, for another three years.

CN Bio said the scope of the research performed by the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research has expanded to include the exploration of the company’s lung-on-a-chip system to help with the agency’s evaluation of inhaled drugs, in addition to the agency’s work on its liver model.

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In quest to meet user fee goals, FDA’s per­for­mance con­tin­ues down­ward trend

A recent update to the FDA’s running tally of how it’s meeting its user fee-related performance goals during the pandemic shows an agency that is not out of the woods yet.

The latest numbers reveal that for a second straight quarter in 2021, the FDA has met its user fee goal dates for 93% of original new drug applications, which compares with 94% and 98% for the previous two quarters in 2020, respectively.

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Cynthia Butitta (L) and Joe Jimenez

Is that an­oth­er IPO in the mak­ing? Ex-No­var­tis CEO Joe Jimenez and a lead Kite play­er take up new posts at an off-the-shelf ri­val to 2 pi­o­neer­ing drugs

Right on the heels of taking on a $160 million crossover round in a likely leap to Nasdaq, Century Therapeutics CEO Lalo Flores is now pushing ahead with the high-profile ex-Novartis chief Joe Jimenez as chairman.

Jimenez’s greatest fame at Novartis was earned for one of its weakest products, as their pioneering personalized CAR-T Kymriah won the honors for the first such drug to make it to the market. Now a host of players, including Century, are barreling in behind the frontrunners with allogeneic rivals that can be created for off-the-shelf use.

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Thomas Schall, ChemoCentryx CEO (file photo)

Chemo­Cen­tryx plunges as FDA rais­es ques­tions about rare dis­ease drug ahead of ad­comm

ChemoCentryx’s stock price on Wednesday was cut in half by the release of FDA briefing documents ahead of a Thursday adcomm, raising questions on the company’s clinical data to support avacopan as a treatment for adults with a rare and serious disease known as anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibody (ANCA)-vasculitis.

ANCA-associated vasculitides (AAV) affect small to medium-size blood vessels that can be fatal in less than a year if left untreated, according to FDA. Only Roche’s Rituxan is currently FDA-approved for the treatment of AAV, while glucocorticoids are approved for the broader indication of vasculitis.

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Stéphane Bancel at the Endpoints #JPM20 breakfast panel in San Francisco, January 2020 (Photo: Jeff Rumans, Endpoints News)

Mod­er­na says Covid-19 vac­cine boost­er in­creased im­mune re­sponse against vari­ants of con­cern

About a month after announcing their variant-specific Covid-19 vaccine boosters showed promising results in mice, Moderna says it now has some human data to back it up.

Volunteers given a booster shot about six to eight months after receiving their second dose saw increased antibody levels against SARS-CoV-2 and two variants of concern: B.1.351, which was first identified in South Africa, and P.1, first identified in Brazil, the company said on Wednesday.

Re­gen­eron’s gold­en goose Eylea may stave off biosim­i­lar com­pe­ti­tion un­til 2024 or be­yond

Almost 10 years have passed since its first FDA approval and Regeneron’s macular degeneration injection Eylea continues to pile up sales to the tune of about $5 billion per year, or more than half of Regeneron’s annual revenues.

Those billions are not expected to go anywhere anytime soon thanks to competition, even as Novartis subsidiary Sandoz announced Monday that it’s beginning a Phase III trial for an Eylea biosimilar in 460 patients across 20 countries.