Up­dat­ed: US sees spike in Paxlovid us­age as Mer­ck­'s mol­nupi­ravir and As­traZeneca's Evusheld are slow­er off the shelf

New da­ta from HHS show that more than 162,000 cours­es of Pfiz­er’s Covid-19 an­tivi­ral Paxlovid were ad­min­is­tered across the US over the past week, con­tin­u­ing a streak of in­creased us­age of the pill, and sig­nal­ing not on­ly ris­ing case num­bers but more aware­ness of how to ac­cess it.

In com­par­i­son to this week, about 670,000 cours­es of the Pfiz­er pill have been ad­min­is­tered across the first five months since Paxlovid has been on the US mar­ket, av­er­ag­ing about 33,000 cours­es ad­min­is­tered per week in that time.

A Pfiz­er spokesper­son told End­points News the com­pa­ny does “not have any con­cerns nor fore­see any sup­ply is­sues in our abil­i­ty to sup­port if [us­age] rates in­crease.”

Cu­mu­la­tive­ly, as of May 24, al­most 3.8 mil­lion dos­es of Paxlovid have been made avail­able to states so far by the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, and about 2.4 mil­lion of those have been or­dered by states, with more than 831,000 cours­es ad­min­is­tered.

Signs for such a spike in us­age were ev­i­dent ear­li­er this month, as in a call with re­porters se­nior HHS of­fi­cials cred­it­ed the surge in the use of Paxlovid to their out­reach, and through the Biden ad­min­is­tra­tion’s Test to Treat ini­tia­tive, which al­lows for use of Paxlovid with a pos­i­tive test at par­tic­i­pat­ing phar­ma­cies.

“We have seen more than a 315% in­crease in Paxlovid use over the past four weeks. In the first week of May, near­ly 115,000 cours­es were dis­pensed,” an of­fi­cial said at the time.

Mean­while, out­side of Paxlovid, few oth­er treat­ment op­tions are re­al­ly in wide use.

Mer­ck’s mol­nupi­ravir, known com­mer­cial­ly as Lagevrio, has strug­gled to make its way out of the in­ven­to­ry clos­et, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est num­bers post­ed by HHS.

On­ly about 20,000 cours­es of the Mer­ck pill were used in the past week, and on­ly about 13% of the to­tal US in­ven­to­ry of mol­nupi­ravir has been used to date. That com­pares with about 35% of over­all us­age of Paxlovid cours­es or­dered by states so far, and the bulk of those or­ders have come with­in the last sev­er­al months.

But for As­traZeneca’s pre­ex­po­sure mAb Evusheld, on­ly about 16,000 cours­es were ad­min­is­tered in the past week. About 38% of all Evusheld or­dered by states has been ad­min­is­tered so far, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est HHS num­bers.

For Eli Lil­ly’s bebtelovimab, which is a mon­o­clon­al an­ti­body that’s sup­posed to be used ahead of mol­nupi­ravir if both are on hand, about 100,000 cours­es in to­tal have been ad­min­is­tered of 379,526 cours­es or­dered (542,330 cours­es avail­able). Bebtelovimab is the fol­low-on mAb af­ter Lil­ly’s for­mer com­bo mAb (850,000+ cours­es dis­trib­uted ear­li­er in the pan­dem­ic) that lost ef­fi­ca­cy against the lat­est vari­ant.

Mean­while, HHS has be­come less and less trans­par­ent with its da­ta and in­for­ma­tion on its dis­tri­b­u­tion of Covid-19 ther­a­peu­tics.

Af­ter the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, and the be­gin­ning of the Biden ad­min­is­tra­tion al­lowed for the pub­lic post­ing of week­ly calls be­tween HHS and states on Covid-19 ther­a­peu­tic dis­tri­b­u­tion, those calls have since been made pri­vate and the pri­or record­ings have been delet­ed from the AS­PR web­site.

In ad­di­tion, each week’s ther­a­peu­tic ad­min­is­tra­tion num­bers have to be tal­lied in­de­pen­dent­ly be­cause HHS now deletes the pre­vi­ous week’s num­bers.

Ed­i­tor’s note: Ar­ti­cle up­dat­ed to add Pfiz­er com­ment and note the stats for Lil­ly’s Covid-19 treat­ments bebtelovimab too.

Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Cyril Marcilhacy/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

FDA side­lines Paul Hud­son's $3.7B MS drug af­ter es­tab­lish­ing link to liv­er dam­age

One of Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson’s top picks in the pipeline — picked up in a $3.7 billion buyout 2 years ago — has just been sidelined in the US by a safety issue.

The pharma giant put out word early Thursday that the FDA has put their Phase III studies of tolebrutinib in multiple sclerosis and myasthenia gravis on partial clinical hold, halting enrollment and suspending dosing for patients who have been on the drug for less than 60 days. Patients who have completed at least 60 days of treatment can continue therapy as researchers explore a “limited” — but unspecified in Sanofi’s statement — number of cases of liver injury.

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Phar­ma re­acts to post-Roe; Drug­mak­ers beef up cy­ber de­fense; Boehringer, Roche qui­et­ly axe drugs; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

As a reminder, we are off on Monday for the Fourth of July. I hope this recap will kick off your (long) weekend well and that the rest of it will be just what you need. See you next week for a shortened edition!

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Eric Hughes, incoming Teva EVP of global R&D and CMO

Te­va chief raids Ver­tex for his new glob­al head of re­search and de­vel­op­ment

Teva CEO Kåre Schultz has found his new R&D chief and CMO in Vertex’s ranks.

The global generics giant, which has some 3,500 staffers in the R&D group, has named Eric Hughes to the top research spot in the company. He’ll be replacing Hafrun Fridriksdottir, who held the role for close to five years, on Aug. 1.

Hughes hasn’t been at Vertex for long, though. He jumped from Novartis less than a year ago, after heading the immunology, hepatology & dermatology global development unit. Before that, he completed a five-year stint as head of early clinical research for the specialty discovery medicine department in the exploratory clinical & translational research group at Bristol Myers Squibb, according to his LinkedIn profile.

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#BIO22: Man­ag­ing a biotech in tur­bu­lent times. 'There's a per­fect shit­show out there'

On Tuesday, June 14, Endpoints News EIC John Carroll sat down with a group of biotech execs to discuss the bear market for industry stocks and how they were dealing with it. Here’s the conversation, which has been lightly edited for brevity.

Martin Meeson, sponsor opening:

Thank you, John. Hello everyone. My name’s Martin Meeson, I’m the CEO of Fujifilm Diosynth. For those of you who don’t know Fujifilm Diosynth, we operate in the development of clinical and commercial product scale up, we have facilities in Europe and the US, and around about 4,000 employees. We run on average about 150 programs, so when it comes to managing in turbulent times over the last two years, we’ve had quite a lot of experience of that. Not just keeping the clinical pipelines and the commercial pipelines open, but also our response to the pandemic and the molecules that we’ve had within there. One of the phrases that I coined probably about a year ago when we were talking at JP Morgan, was I talked about managing through turbulent times. Well, it’s become the fact that we are not managing and leading through these times, we are managing in them, which is why that’s really the purpose of and the topic that we’ve got today.

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Albert Bourla (Photo by JOHN THYS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

As boost­er sea­son awaits, US re-ups sup­ply of Pfiz­er Covid-19 vac­cine with new $3.2B deal

The US government said late Wednesday that it will pay Pfizer and its partner BioNTech $3.2 billion upon receipt of the first 105 million Covid-19 vaccine doses, potentially the new Omicron-adapted boosters pending EUA.

Under this agreement, the US government also has the option to purchase up to 195 million additional doses, bringing the total number of potential new doses to 300 million. The US has now spent almost $15 billion on Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine.

Amgen's taking social media followers around the globe as it introduces the many different

From Tam­pa to Mu­nich, Am­gen’s ‘Places’ cam­paign in­tro­duces its lo­ca­tions around the world

Amgen is taking social media followers around the world with its latest corporate campaign. Called “Places of Amgen,” the twice monthly posts highlight the biopharma’s different offices and sites – and the people who work there.

Each post runs on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram with details about the work Amgen does in that location, when it was established, comments from people who work there and other interesting facts. The most recent one about Paris, France, for example, notes that Amgen France last year signed a French association charter committed to the inclusion of LBGT+ people in the workplace.

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On Friday, Lonza announced plans to construct a large-scale commercial drug product fill and finish facility in the town of Stein, Switzerland.

Lon­za to in­vest $500M+ on fill-fin­ish fa­cil­i­ty on its home turf

Lonza has been expanding its reach across the globe, bringing sites in China and the US online this year, but now they are looking closer to home for their next major investment.

The Swiss manufacturer on Friday announced plans to construct a large-scale commercial drug fill and finish facility in the town of Stein, Switzerland. The new facility will be delivered through an investment of approximately CHF 500 million, or $519 million, and is expected to be completed in 2026. The facility will also be constructed on the same campus as Lonza’s current clinical drug product facility.

Credit: Shutterstock

Bio­haven takes mi­graine cam­paign to pa­tients' Twit­ter feeds, months ahead of Pfiz­er takeover

Two weeks ago, Biohaven hit an all-time high in weekly Nurtec prescriptions. CEO Vlad Coric attributes at least some of that success to a new interactive Twitter campaign that encourages patients to free their feed of potential migraine triggers.

Earlier this month, Biohaven in partnership with Twitter launched the #RelieveYourFeed campaign that allows users to customize their app settings based on their migraine triggers.

Oncologists on Twitter are talking up ASCO studies, health equity and burnout, according to new deep dive research from Harris Poll (via Shutterstock)

What’s been on in­flu­en­tial on­col­o­gist­s' minds? Most­ly AS­CO, but al­so health eq­ui­ty, ac­cord­ing to new Har­ris Poll re­search

Over the past few months, oncologists have been talking a lot about the ASCO conference. Not surprising considering its import and the study data presented, but what may be less expected is the second most talked about topic of health equity.

That’s according to data from The Harris Poll and the new expert network the researcher is building out. While the company has been doing deep data dives into specific health issues or conditions for pharma clients, it’s now monitoring influencer networks of therapy area specialists to find out what experts are really thinking about.