UP­DAT­ED: J&J paus­es vac­cine roll­out as feds probe rare cas­es of blood clots

The FDA and CDC have joint­ly de­cid­ed to stop ad­min­is­ter­ing J&J’s Covid-19 vac­cine af­ter re­view­ing da­ta in­volv­ing six re­port­ed US cas­es of a rare and se­vere type of blood clot in in­di­vid­u­als af­ter re­ceiv­ing the vac­cine.

CDC will con­vene a meet­ing of its Ad­vi­so­ry Com­mit­tee on Im­mu­niza­tion Prac­tices on Wednes­day to fur­ther re­view these cas­es and as­sess their po­ten­tial sig­nif­i­cance. “FDA will re­view that analy­sis as it al­so in­ves­ti­gates these cas­es. Un­til that process is com­plete, we are rec­om­mend­ing a pause in the use of this vac­cine out of an abun­dance of cau­tion,” Pe­ter Marks, di­rec­tor of the FDA’s Cen­ter for Bi­o­log­ics Eval­u­a­tion and Re­search and Anne Schuchat, Prin­ci­pal Deputy Di­rec­tor of the CDC, said in a joint state­ment Tues­day morn­ing.

Marks said in a me­dia call that the prob­a­ble cause may be a sim­i­lar mech­a­nism seen in oth­er ade­n­ovirus vec­tor vac­cines, like the As­traZeneca Covid-19 vac­cine, which un­der­went a sim­i­lar safe­ty re­view in Eu­rope. He said one per­son has died and one per­son is in crit­i­cal con­di­tion from the blood clots. FDA act­ing com­mis­sion­er Janet Wood­cock added that the time­frame for this re­view of the J&J vac­cine “will be a mat­ter of days.”

J&J said in a state­ment on Tues­day that it has made the de­ci­sion to proac­tive­ly de­lay the roll­out of its vac­cine in Eu­rope. “The safe­ty and well-be­ing of the peo­ple who use our prod­ucts is our num­ber one pri­or­i­ty,” the com­pa­ny said.

“All six cas­es oc­curred among women be­tween the ages of 18 and 48, and symp­toms oc­curred 6 to 13 days af­ter vac­ci­na­tion,” they not­ed, adding that al­most 7 mil­lion dos­es of the vac­cine have now been ad­min­is­tered in the US. The CDC and FDA said that peo­ple who have re­ceived the J&J vac­cine and who de­vel­op se­vere headache, ab­dom­i­nal pain, leg pain, or short­ness of breath 3 weeks af­ter vac­ci­na­tion should con­tact their health care provider.

Treat­ment of this spe­cif­ic type of blood clot is dif­fer­ent from he­parin, which is the treat­ment that might typ­i­cal­ly be ad­min­is­tered, as in this set­ting, CDC and FDA said, “ad­min­is­tra­tion of he­parin may be dan­ger­ous, and al­ter­na­tive treat­ments need to be giv­en.”

Sen­a­tors on Tues­day be­gan weigh­ing in on what the FDA should do with its re­view.

Jeff Zients, White House Covid-19 re­sponse co­or­di­na­tor, said in a state­ment that the Biden ad­min­is­tra­tion is work­ing with states to resched­ule J&J ap­point­ments for Morder­na or Pfiz­er vac­cines. New York said all ap­point­ments for J&J vac­cines to­day at New York State mass vac­ci­na­tion sites will be hon­ored with the Pfiz­er vac­cine.

The news comes as the Eu­ro­pean Med­i­cines Agency’s safe­ty com­mit­tee said last Fri­day that it has ini­ti­at­ed a re­view of four “se­ri­ous cas­es of un­usu­al blood clots with low blood platelets,” in­clud­ing one death, re­port­ed af­ter peo­ple re­ceived the J&J vac­cine in the US.

As of April 4, EMA said a to­tal of 169 cas­es of cere­bral ve­nous si­nus throm­bo­sis (CVST) and 53 cas­es of splanch­nic vein throm­bo­sis were re­port­ed to the data­base, among 34 mil­lion peo­ple who have been vac­ci­nat­ed with the As­traZeneca vac­cine in the EEA and UK. By com­par­i­son, the agency not­ed that for the J&J vac­cine, 3 CVST cas­es were found among 4.5 mil­lion vac­ci­nat­ed world­wide, for Pfiz­er, 35 CVST cas­es world­wide were found and 54 mil­lion re­ceived the vac­cine in the EEA, and for Mod­er­na, 5 CVST cas­es world­wide were among 4 mil­lion vac­ci­nat­ed in the EEA.

Mod­er­na said in a state­ment on Tues­day that more than 64.5 mil­lion dos­es of its vac­cine have been ad­min­is­tered glob­al­ly and its as­sess­ment of the da­ta “does not sug­gest an as­so­ci­a­tion with cere­bral ve­nous si­nus throm­bo­sis (CVST) or throm­bot­ic events.”

Anne Schuchat, prin­ci­pal deputy di­rec­tor at the CDC, al­so said on the me­dia call that they are not see­ing con­cerns with these clot­ting events for the Mod­er­na or Pfiz­er vac­cines.

Scoop: Boehringer qui­et­ly shut­ters a PhII for one of its top drugs — now un­der re­view

Boehringer Ingelheim has quietly shut down a small Phase II study for one of its lead drugs.

The private pharma player confirmed to Endpoints News that it had shuttered a study testing spesolimab as a therapy for Crohn’s patients suffering from bowel obstructions.

A spokesperson for the company tells Endpoints:

Taking into consideration the current therapeutic landscape and ongoing clinical development programs, Boehringer Ingelheim decided to discontinue our program in Crohn’s disease. It is important to note that this decision is not based on any safety findings in the clinical trials.

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Vas Narasimhan (Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

No­var­tis de­tails plans to axe 8,000 staffers as Narasimhan be­gins sec­ond phase of a glob­al re­org

We now know the number of jobs coming under the axe at Novartis, and it isn’t small.

The pharma giant is confirming a report from Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger that it is chopping 8,000 jobs out of its 108,000 global staffers. A large segment will hit right at company headquarters in Basel, as CEO Vas Narasimhan axes some 1,400 of a little more than 11,000  jobs in Switzerland.

The first phase of the work is almost done, the company says in a statement to Endpoints News. Now it’s on to phase two. In the statement, Novartis says:

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Lina Gugucheva, NewAmsterdam Pharma CBO

Phar­ma group bets up to $1B-plus on the PhI­II res­ur­rec­tion of a once dead-and-buried LDL drug

Close to 5 years after then-Amgen R&D chief Sean Harper tamped the last spade of dirt on the last broadly focused CETP cholesterol drug — burying their $300 million upfront and the few remaining hopes for the class with it — the therapy has been fully resurrected. And today, the NewAmsterdam Pharma crew that did the Lazarus treatment on obicetrapib is taking another big step on the comeback trail with a €1 billion-plus regional licensing deal, complete with close to $150 million in upfront cash.

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How pre­pared is bio­phar­ma for the cy­ber dooms­day?

One of the largest cyberattacks in history happened on a Friday, Eric Perakslis distinctly remembers.

Perakslis, who was head of Takeda’s R&D Data Sciences Institute and visiting faculty at Harvard Medical School at the time, had spent that morning completing a review on cybersecurity for the British Medical Journal. Moments after he turned it in, he heard back from the editor: “Have you heard what’s going on right now?”

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Aurobindo Pharma co-founders P. V. Ram Prasad Reddy (L) and K. Nityananda Reddy

Au­robindo Phar­ma re­ceives warn­ing let­ter from In­di­a's SEC fol­low­ing more FDA ques­tion marks

Indian-based generics manufacturer Aurobindo Pharma has been in the crosshairs of the FDA for several years now, but the company is also attracting attention from regulators within the subcontinent.

According to the Indian business news site Business Standard, a warning letter was sent to the company from the Securities Exchange Board of India, or SEBI.

The letter is related to disclosures made by the company on an ongoing FDA audit of the company’s Unit-1 API facility in Hyderabad, India as well as observations made by the US regulator between 2019 and 2022.

Ankit Mahadevia, Spero CEO

Spero’s UTI can­di­date gets the CRL ham­mer as the com­pa­ny falls in­to pen­ny stock sta­tus

Spero Therapeutics has been struggling in the past few years, dealing with FDA holds and staff reductions amidst a rough biotech market, and the latest news from the Massachusetts-based company confirms what it anticipated in May: a CRL.

The company was slapped with the no-go for its NDA, the biotech disclosed Monday. The company was seeking approval for tebipenem HBr oral tablets, intended for the treatment of adult patients with complicated urinary tract infection, or cUTI, including pyelonephritis. The FDA had set a PDUFA date of June 27.

(AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Some phar­ma com­pa­nies promise to cov­er abor­tion-re­lat­ed trav­el costs — while oth­ers won't go that far yet

As the US Department of Health and Human Services promises to support the millions of women who would now need to cross state lines to receive a legal abortion, a handful of pharma companies have said they will pick up employees’ travel expenses.

GSK, Sanofi, Johnson & Johnson, BeiGene, Alnylam and Gilead have all committed to covering abortion-related travel expenses just four days after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and revoked women’s constitutional right to an abortion.

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Herriot Tabuteau, Axsome CEO (Owen Hoffmann/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

Ax­some's long de­layed de­pres­sion drug is back up for la­bel dis­cus­sions at the FDA, trig­ger­ing a big spike in the share price

Axsome’s on-and-off quest to obtain an FDA approval for their depression drug AXS-05 is back on again.

After the markets closed on Monday, the biotech issued a short, simple alert in an SEC filing saying the team had “received from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (the “FDA”) proposed labeling for the Company’s AXS-05 product candidate with respect to its New Drug Application (the “NDA”) for AXS-05 for the treatment of major depressive disorder. The Company is reviewing the proposed labeling and will reply to the FDA to secure final labeling agreement.”

New Charles River Laboratories High Quality (HQ) Plasmid DNA Centre of Excellence at Bruntwood SciTech’s Alderley Park in Cheshire, United Kingdom. (Charles River)

Charles Riv­er Lab­o­ra­to­ries to start cell and gene ther­a­py man­u­fac­tur­ing at UK site in Sep­tem­ber

While Massachusetts-based Charles River Laboratories has been on an acquisition spree, they are not against planting their flag. The latest move by the company sees them crossing the pond to establish a manufacturing site in the UK.

The company on Tuesday opened its cell and gene therapy manufacturing center at Bruntwood SciTech’s Alderley Park in Cheshire, United Kingdom. The expansion follows Charles River’s acquisition of Cognate BioServices and Cobra Biologics in 2021 for $875 million. Cognate is a plasmid DNA, viral vector and cell therapy CDMO.