Ernest Loumaye, ObsEva CEO (ObsEva)

Ob­sE­va’s sec­ond uter­ine fi­broids PhI­II comes through, send­ing some in­vestors to the hills

In the three-com­pa­ny race to de­vel­op a new uter­ine fi­broid treat­ment, Ob­sE­va long lagged be­hind Ab­b­Vie and My­ovant. Still, they hoped that bet­ter ef­fi­ca­cy — in­clud­ing a 93.9% re­sponse rate in one Phase III tri­al — could ul­ti­mate­ly de­liv­er bet­ter sales.

Now, though, the sec­ond of those Phase III stud­ies is out, and it has brought the Swedish biotech back to earth.

In the sec­ond of their Phase III tri­als, 75.5% of pa­tients who took Ob­sE­va’s ex­per­i­men­tal tablet lin­zagolix plus a hor­mone saw their bleed­ing re­duced by at least 50% and at least 80 ml af­ter 24 weeks. Pool­ing those re­sults with new da­ta from their first Phase III tri­al — which showed a 93.9% re­sponse rate at 24 weeks and a 91.6% re­sponse rate at 52 weeks — Ob­sE­va cal­cu­lat­ed a col­lec­tive 84.7% re­spon­der rate for pa­tients tak­ing their ther­a­py and said the da­ta “con­firm po­ten­tial best-in-class” sta­tus.

“These ex­cel­lent da­ta move us clos­er to the po­ten­tial com­mer­cial­iza­tion of Ysel­ty and our im­me­di­ate pri­or­i­ty is to progress our reg­u­la­to­ry fil­ings,” Ernest Loumaye, Ob­sE­va CEO and co-founder said in a state­ment, us­ing the brand­ed name for his drug.

Yet some in­vestors and an­a­lysts were dis­ap­point­ed, not­ing that these new re­sults erase the edge that the first tri­al seemed to give Ob­sE­va. 75.5% falls right in line with the re­sults from Ab­b­Vie and My­ovant. Ab­b­vie had a 68.5% re­sponse rate in one Phase III tri­al and a 76.2% re­sponse rate in the sec­ond. My­ovant saw re­sponse rates of 71.2% and 73.4%.

In fact, SVB Leerink’s Ami Fa­dia wrote in a note to in­vestors that be­cause Ob­sE­va had high place­bo re­sponse in both tri­als. the com­pa­ny now has the worst place­bo-ad­just­ed re­sponse of any of the three.

“We be­lieve the place­bo-ad­just­ed re­sponse rate will be a key met­ric that in­vestors pay at­ten­tion to, and the PRIM­ROSE1 re­sults on that mea­sure like­ly fell short of ex­pec­ta­tions,” Fa­dia wrote, not­ing their own Ob­sE­va mod­el is now un­der re­view.

The mar­ket agreed, cut­ting Ob­sE­va’s stock $OB­SV by 40%, or $2.75, Mon­day morn­ing.

Even be­fore the new tri­al, an­a­lysts had ex­pressed reser­va­tions about Ob­sE­va’s ap­par­ent ef­fi­ca­cy. In De­cem­ber, Baird’s Bri­an Sko­r­ney chalked up their high score to a 29.4% place­bo re­sponse rate, far high­er than those seen in their two com­peti­tors’ tri­als. “We think the re­sound­ing take­away here is that the ef­fi­ca­cy pro­files of these 3 … in­hibitors are es­sen­tial­ly the same,” he wrote in a note to in­vestors.

If these drugs are ef­fec­tive­ly the same, Sko­r­ney bet that the first ones out of the gate will es­tab­lish a beach-head and gar­ner the most sales. That would spell bad news for Ob­sE­va. Tim­ing-wise, they now sit in third place. Ab­b­Vie’s drug has al­ready been ap­proved and My­ovant sub­mit­ted an NDA in June, while Ob­sE­va has yet to file an ap­pli­ca­tion. Known as GnRH in­hibitors, these drugs block a hor­mone re­cep­tor in the body.

Some an­a­lysts, though, bet that de­spite some ini­tial con­cerns, safe­ty could ul­ti­mate­ly be Ob­sE­va’s ad­van­tage. When the FDA ap­proved Ab­b­Vie’s drug, Ori­ahnn, they al­so put strict lim­its on its use af­ter mul­ti­ple pa­tients in their tri­al had throm­bot­ic events, in­clud­ing a pul­monary em­bolism. These like­ly came from ex­tra hor­mone treat­ments, known as add-back ther­a­py, pa­tients take to stop the menopause-like symp­toms GnRH in­hibitors can cause.

That’s part­ly why Ob­sE­va in­clud­ed an arm on both tri­als where pa­tients took a small­er dose of the drug and didn’t re­ceive the add-back ther­a­py. In the com­pa­ny’s first tri­al, a lit­tle over half of those pa­tients saw their bleed­ing cut in half. That could make it a good can­di­date for pa­tients with oth­er co-mor­bidi­ties, Fa­dia and oth­er an­a­lysts wrote. The new study showed a 56.6% rate of pa­tients on the no-add-back treat­ment arm, but it al­so had a 35% rate in place­bo, cut­ting the place­bo-ad­just­ed rate to just 21.4%. With new 52-week da­ta out, there were al­so ques­tions about how long the ther­a­py would last.

“We still view the pro­file of both the low dose and the high dose as ap­prov­able,” Fa­dia wrote, “al­though we see po­ten­tial ques­tions com­ing up re­gard­ing the treat­ment du­ra­tion on the la­bel and the com­mer­cial vi­a­bil­i­ty for the low dose.”

Janet Woodcock (Greg Nash/Pool via AP Images)

'I re­al­ly don’t look back': Janet Wood­cock on her tran­si­tion away from drugs

Janet Woodcock may have one of the most historically long and drug-intense tenures in FDA history, but her new role is outside of all things pharma and the once-acting FDA commissioner isn’t looking back.

“No I really don’t look back,” Woodcock told Endpoints News via email on Monday morning. “Yes I will be transitioning. Longer discussion on infrastructure needed.”

An NYU surgeon transplants an engineered pig kidney into the outside of a brain-dead patient (Joe Carrotta/NYU Langone Health)

'Xeno­trans­plan­ta­tion is com­ing': New NE­JM pa­per gives de­tailed look in­to 2 pig-to-hu­man kid­ney trans­plant cas­es

The thymokidney is a curious organ, if you could call it that. It’s a sort of Frankensteinian creation — a system of pig thymus embedded underneath the outer layer of a pig’s kidney, made for human transplantation.

In the first case of pig-to-human xenotransplantation of a kidney into a brain-dead patient, the thymokidney quietly featured front and center.

In that experiment, which took place in September of last year, NYU researchers led by Robert Montgomery sutured a pig thymokidney onto the leg of a brain-dead 66-year-old woman. That case was widely reported on by a horde of major media outlets, including the New York Times, the BBC, and an in-depth feature by USA Today.

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Vlad Coric, Biohaven CEO

UP­DAT­ED: Fresh off $11.6B sale to Pfiz­er, New Bio­haven hits Phase III set­back just weeks af­ter Vlad Coric chalked up promise

When Pfizer bought up Biohaven’s migraine portfolio in the largest M&A deal of the year earlier this month, Biohaven CEO Vlad Coric promised the rest of the pipeline, which will live on under the umbrella of New Biohaven, still has a lot to offer. But that vision took a dent Monday as the drugmaker revealed it’s once again flopped on troriluzole.

The glutamate regulator failed to meet the primary endpoint on a Phase III study in patients with spinocerebellar ataxia, an inherited disorder that impairs a person’s ability to walk, speak and swallow. SCA can also lead to premature death.

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Bay­er sounds re­treat from a $670 mil­lion CAR-T pact in the wake of a pa­tient death

Two months after Atara Biotherapeutics hit the hold button on its lead CAR-T 2.0 therapy following a patient death, putting the company under the watchful eye of the FDA, its Big Pharma partners at Bayer are bowing out of a $670 million global alliance. And the move is forcing a revamp of Atara’s pipeline plans, even as research execs vow to continue work on the two drugs allied with Bayer 18 months ago, which delivered a $60 million cash upfront.

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Co­pay coupons gone wrong, again: Pfiz­er pays al­most $300K to set­tle com­plaints in four states

Pfizer has agreed to pay $290,000 to settle allegations of questionable copay coupon practices in Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, and Vermont from 2014 to 2018.

While the company has not admitted any wrongdoing as part of the settlement, Pfizer has agreed to issue restitution checks to about 5,000 consumers.

A Pfizer spokesperson said the company has “enhanced its co-pay coupons to alleviate the concerns raised by states and agreed to a $30,000 payment to each.”

Delaware court rules against Gilead and Astel­las in years-long patent case

A judge in Delaware has ruled against Astellas Pharma and Gilead in a long-running patent case over Pfizer-onwed Hospira’s generic version of Lexiscan.

The case kicked off in 2018, after Hospira submitted an Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) for approval to market a generic version of Gilead’s Lexiscan. The drug is used in myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI), a type of nuclear stress test.

Taye Diggs (courtesy Idorsia)

Idor­sia inks an­oth­er celebri­ty en­dors­er deal with ac­tor and dad Taye Dig­gs as Qu­viviq in­som­nia am­bas­sador

Idorsia’s latest Quviviq insomnia campaign details the relatable dad story of a well-known celebrity — actor and Broadway star Taye Diggs.

Diggs stopped sleeping well after the birth of his son, now more than 10 years ago. Switching mom-and-dad nightly shifts to take care of a baby interrupted his sleep patterns and led to insomnia.

“When you’re lucky enough to be living out your dream and doing what you want, but because of something as simple as a lack of sleep, you’re unable to do that, it felt absolutely — it was treacherous,” he says in an interview-style video on the Quviviq website.

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Belén Garijo, Merck KGaA CEO (Kevin Wolf/AP Images for EMD Serono)

Mer­ck KGaA pumps €440M in­to ex­pand­ing and con­struct­ing Irish man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ties

The area of Ireland famous for Blarney Castle and its cliffsides along the Atlantic Ocean is seeing Merck KGaA expand its commitment there.

The German drug manufacturer is expanding its membrane and filtration manufacturing capabilities in Ireland. The company will invest approximately €440 million ($470 million) to increase membrane manufacturing capacity in Carrigtwohill, Ireland, and build a new manufacturing facility at Blarney Business Park, in County Cork, Ireland.

Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) (Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA/Sipa via AP Images)

House Dems to Sen­ate lead­er­ship: Quick­ly move a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion bill with drug price ne­go­ti­a­tion re­forms

Twenty House Democrats, including Reps. Katie Porter of California and Susan Wild of Pennsylvania, are calling on Senate leaders to move quickly with a reconciliation bill (meaning they only need a simple majority for passage) with prescription drug pricing reforms, and to include adding new authority for Medicare to negotiate drug prices.

They also called on the Senate to specifically follow suit with the House passage of a $35 per month insulin cap (as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s deadline for a vote on that provision has come and gone), and to cap Medicare Part D costs at $2,000 per year for seniors.