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.

“The key el­e­ment of this work is that we are get­ting to the re­al ‘in­sid­er’ ex­pert point of view,” Har­ris Poll man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Rob Jekielek said. “First by build­ing an on­col­o­gy-cen­tric, high in­flu­ence net­work, then by look­ing deeply in­to the con­tent and dis­cus­sions that res­onate most, specif­i­cal­ly with­in that net­work of ex­perts.”

Its first on­col­o­gy ex­pert dive pre­viewed for End­points News looks at what Twit­ter in­flu­en­tial can­cer doc­tors were post­ing, chat­ting up and retweet­ing from March through the end of June. AS­CO, held dur­ing the first week of June, fu­eled the lead­ing theme of clin­i­cal tri­als and stud­ies among 61% of the on­col­o­gists, while health eq­ui­ty came in sec­ond with 15% men­tion­ing re­lat­ed top­ics. On­col­o­gists’ men­tal health and burnout was a less­er trend­ing top­ic, but still no­table with 6% talk­ing about it.

Among the spe­cif­ic clin­i­cal tri­als and stud­ies talked about, the As­traZeneca and Dai­ichi Sankyo’s Des­tiny study pre­sent­ed on En­her­tu (trastuzum­ab derux­te­can) in pre­vi­ous­ly treat­ed HER2-low ad­vanced breast can­cer led the way with 19% talk­ing about it on Twit­ter. Tied for the sec­ond-most dis­cussed study at 11% were GSK’s PD-1 block­er dostar­limab-gx­ly (Jem­per­li) rec­tal can­cer tri­al and the Cos­mic-021 for cabozan­ti­nib–ate­zolizum­ab (Ex­elix­is’ Cabome­tyx and Roche’s Tecen­triq) to treat urothe­lial car­ci­no­ma.

Along­side those study dis­cus­sions were re­lat­ed health eq­ui­ty takes, es­pe­cial­ly around ac­cess and tri­al di­ver­si­ty. The par­al­lel com­men­tary “kind of poked holes” in the tri­als by look­ing at them through an in­equity lens, Jekielek said.

For ex­am­ple, one in­flu­encer wrote: “I don’t want to bring peo­ple down but while the re­sults are great, the Des­tiny of MOST women with #bc­sm world­wide will be NOT to get trastuzum­ab derux­te­can since they can­not even ac­cess surgery, ra­dio­ther­a­py, en­docrine ther­a­py or trastuzum­ab. We need to do bet­ter.”

“Around AS­CO there are very spe­cif­ic tri­als and stud­ies that are cit­ed and re­leased and you can see the ones that stand out the most,” Jekielek said. “The thing that’s equal­ly in­ter­est­ing is the de­gree of fo­cus on health eq­ui­ty with­in the AS­CO con­ver­sa­tion and di­rect­ly tied to both health­care prac­ti­tion­ers as well as how tri­als and stud­ies are built.”

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Mathai Mammen, FogPharma's next CEO

Math­ai Mam­men hands in J&J's R&D keys to lead Greg Ver­dine’s Fog­Phar­ma 

In the early 1990s, Mathai Mammen was a teaching assistant in Greg Verdine’s Science B46 course at Harvard. In June, the former R&D head at Johnson & Johnson will succeed Verdine as CEO, president and chair of FogPharma, the same month the seven-year-old biotech kickstarts its first clinical trial.

After leading R&D at one of the largest drugmakers in the world, taking the company through more than half a dozen drug approvals in the past few years, not to mention a Covid-19 vaccine race, Mammen departed J&J last month and will take the helm of a Cambridge, MA biotech attempting to go after what Verdine calls the “true emperor of all oncogenes” — beta-catenin.

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Lu­pus drug de­vel­op­ment mar­ket heat­ing up, while FDA links with ad­vo­ca­cy group to fur­ther ac­cel­er­ate re­search

The long-underserved systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) market is suddenly buzzing with treatment possibilities. Less than two years after AstraZeneca’s approval for Saphnelo — the first new SLE drug in a decade and joining just one other approved in GSK’s Benlysta – the pipeline of potential drugs numbers in the dozens.

Although most are very early stage — Spherix Global Insights estimates five in Phase II/III — the pharma R&D enthusiasm is catching on among doctors, patients and advocacy groups. On Wednesday, the Lupus Research Alliance and the FDA formed a novel private-public partnership called Lupus Accelerating Breakthroughs Consortium (Lupus ABC) to help advance lupus clinical trial success.

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Sen­ate Fi­nance Com­mit­tee lobs more bi­par­ti­san pres­sure on­to PBMs

Congress is honing in on how it wants to overhaul the rules of the road for pharmacy benefit managers, with a Senate Finance Committee hearing Thursday serving as the latest example of the Hill’s readiness to make changes to how pharma middlemen operate.

While pledging to ensure patients and pharmacies “don’t get a raw deal,” Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) laid out the beginning of what looks like a major bipartisan effort — moves the PBM industry is likely to challenge vigorously.

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Nicklas Westerholm, Egetis Therapeutics CEO

Ac­qui­si­tion talks on­go­ing for Swedish rare dis­ease biotech Egetis, shares up al­most 40%

Shares of the Sweden-based rare disease biotech Egetis Therapeutics skyrocketed on Thursday afternoon as the company said it’s engaged in “ongoing discussion” with external parties regarding a “potential acquisition.”

Egetis confirmed rumors with a statement on Thursday while noting that there is no certainty that a takeover offer will be made.

Nonetheless, the possibility of an acquisition has shot up Egetis’ share price. By the afternoon on Thursday, its stock price was {$EGTX.ST} up over 38%. An Egetis spokesperson told Endpoints News in an email that it has no further comments.

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Stéphane Bancel, Moderna CEO (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Mod­er­na so­lid­i­fies deal with Kenya to build mR­NA man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ty

The mRNA player Moderna is further cementing its presence on the African continent.

Moderna announced on Thursday that it has finalized an agreement with Kenya’s government to partner up and bring an mRNA manufacturing facility to the east African nation. The new facility aims to manufacture up to 500 million doses of vaccines annually. Moderna also said the new facility will have the ability to spike its production capabilities to respond to public health emergencies on the continent or globally.

Luke Miels, GSK chief commercial officer

GSK picks up Scynex­is' FDA-ap­proved an­ti­fun­gal drug for $90M up­front

GSK is dishing out $90 million cash to add an antifungal drug to its commercial portfolio, in a deal spotlighting the pharma giant’s growing focus on infectious diseases.

The upfront will lock in an exclusive license to Scynexis’ Brexafemme, which was approved in 2021 to treat a yeast infection known as vulvovaginal candidiasis, except in China and certain other countries where Scynexis already out-licensed the drug.

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Boehringer re­ports ro­bust sales led by type 2 di­a­betes and pul­monary drugs, promis­es more to come high­light­ing obe­si­ty

Boehringer Ingelheim reported human pharma sales of €18.5 billion on Wednesday, led by type 2 diabetes and heart failure drug Jardiance and pulmonary fibrosis med Ofev. Jardiance sales reached €5.8 billion, growing 39% year over year, while Ofev took in €3.2 billion, notching its own 20.6% annual jump.

However, Boehringer is also looking ahead with its pipeline, estimating “In the next seven years the company expects about 20 regulatory approvals in human pharma.”

FDA ap­proves Nar­can opi­oid over­dose re­ver­sal spray for over-the-counter sale

The FDA today approved Emergent BioSolutions’ Narcan brand naloxone nasal spray for over-the-counter sales. The nod was expected and comes on the heels of a unanimous 19-0 advisory committee vote in favor of approval last month.

The move to OTC means the opioid overdose reversal agent will now be available on grocery, convenience and gas stations shelves, as well as potentially for purchase online.