With Resta­sis in its crosshairs, My­lan adds a Botox biosim with Re­vance; Ver­tex starts sec­ond PhI­II triple com­bo CF study

With My­lan $MYL al­ready mov­ing in for the kill with a gener­ic ver­sion of Al­ler­gan’s Resta­sis, the big gener­ics com­pa­ny has set up a new pro­gram that can al­so go af­ter Al­ler­gan’s multi­bil­lion-dol­lar fran­chise for Botox. My­lan to­day an­nounced a deal to part­ner with Re­vance Ther­a­peu­tics $RVNC on a short-act­ing knock­off of Botox, which pro­vid­ed Al­ler­gan with chart-top­ping rev­enue of $3.4 bil­lion last year. Re­vance is al­ready an­gling to grab a share of the Botox mar­ket with a late-stage long-act­ing ri­val, along with com­pe­ti­tion from Evo­lus and Hugel. And there have been mixed re­views of just how suc­cess­ful that might be.

→ Ver­tex $VRTX is start­ing yet an­oth­er Phase III study of VX-659 (a sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion cor­rec­tor can­di­date), along with teza­caftor and iva­caftor as an in­ves­ti­ga­tion­al triple com­bo reg­i­men for peo­ple with cys­tic fi­bro­sis. Specif­i­cal­ly, the com­pa­ny is look­ing at CF pa­tients with two copies of the F508del mu­ta­tion, the most com­mon form of the dis­ease. The study will en­roll 100 pa­tients. This is the sec­ond triple com­bo study in­clud­ing these same ther­a­pies, with Ver­tex an­nounc­ing the first in Feb­ru­ary. That tri­al was en­rolling 360 pa­tients. “The first Phase III study…is de­signed to sup­port ap­proval of the VX-659 triple com­bi­na­tion in pa­tients with one F508del mu­ta­tion and one min­i­mal func­tion mu­ta­tion who cur­rent­ly have no treat­ment that ad­dress­es the un­der­ly­ing cause of dis­ease,” said Jef­frey Chodake­witz, Ver­tex’s ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent and CMO, in a state­ment. “This sec­ond study is de­signed to en­able us to broad­en the po­ten­tial la­bel for this reg­i­men to in­clude those with the most com­mon ge­net­ic form of cys­tic fi­bro­sis.”

Al­ler­gan’s $AGN has run in­to a speed bump along the reg­u­la­to­ry road for a uter­ine fi­broids drug. In a very brief note, the Dublin-based phar­ma ac­knowl­edged that the FDA has ex­tend­ed the re­view of its NDA for ulipristal ac­etate, set­ting a PDU­FA tar­get ac­tion date in Au­gust. The com­pa­ny is fair­ly op­ti­mistic about the drug — which is al­ready avail­able in Eu­rope and Cana­da and aced both PhI­II tri­als — fore­cast­ing $500 mil­lion to $1 bil­lion in sales.

→ In the clos­ing chap­ter to an em­bar­rass­ing sto­ry about a failed gov­ern­ment re­search sub­sidy pro­gram, San­ford Burn­ham Pre­bys Med­ical Dis­cov­ery In­sti­tute has agreed to re­turn $12.3 mil­lion to the state of Flori­da for fail­ing to ful­fill re­quire­ments made in an in­cen­tive agree­ment. The state first hand­ed SBP $155 mil­lion in in­cen­tives in 2006 — un­der then-gov­er­nor Jeb Bush — amount­ing to one of the largest in­cen­tive pack­ages in the state’s re­cent his­to­ry, ac­cord­ing to the Or­lan­do Sen­tinel. By 2016, how­ev­er, the in­sti­tute had de­cid­ed to re­lo­cate to Cal­i­for­nia for fi­nan­cial rea­sons, with­out reach­ing the goal of cre­at­ing 303 jobs. SBP is still ne­go­ti­at­ing with lo­cal stake­hold­ers re­gard­ing tran­si­tion of its op­er­a­tions to an­oth­er en­ti­ty, but its of­fi­cials in­sist that the in­sti­tute had con­tributed sig­nif­i­cant­ly to Flori­da’s life sci­ences in­dus­try dur­ing its 10-year pres­ence.

With con­tri­bu­tion by John Car­roll and Brit­tany Meil­ing.

How small- to mid-sized biotechs can adopt pa­tient cen­tric­i­ty in their on­col­o­gy tri­als

By Lucy Clos­sick Thom­son, Se­nior Di­rec­tor of On­col­o­gy Pro­ject Man­age­ment, Icon

Clin­i­cal tri­als in on­col­o­gy can be cost­ly and chal­leng­ing to man­age. One fac­tor that could re­duce costs and re­duce bar­ri­ers is har­ness­ing the pa­tient voice in tri­al de­sign to help ac­cel­er­ate pa­tient en­roll­ment. Now is the time to adopt pa­tient-cen­tric strate­gies that not on­ly fo­cus on pa­tient needs, but al­so can main­tain cost ef­fi­cien­cy.

John Reed at JPM 2019. Jeff Rumans for Endpoints News

Sanofi's John Reed con­tin­ues to re­or­ga­nize R&D, cut­ting 466 jobs while boost­ing can­cer, gene ther­a­py re­search

The R&D reorganization inside Sanofi is continuing, more than a year after the pharma giant brought in John Reed to head the research arm of the Paris-based company.
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The top 10 block­buster drugs in the late-stage pipeline — Eval­u­ate adds 6 new ther­a­pies to heavy-hit­ter list

Vertex comes in for a substantial amount of criticism for its no-holds-barred tactical approach toward wresting the price it wants for its commercial drugs in Europe. But the flip side of that coin is a highly admired R&D and commercial operation that regularly wins kudos from analysts for their ability to engineer greater cash flow from the breakthrough drugs they create.

Both aspects needed for success in this business are on display in the program backing Vertex’s triple for cystic fibrosis. VX-659/VX-445 + Tezacaftor + Ivacaftor — it’s been whittled down to 445 now — was singled out by Evaluate Pharma as the late-stage therapy most likely to win the crown for drug sales in 5 years, with a projected peak revenue forecast of $4.3 billion.

The latest annual list, which you can see here in their latest world preview, includes a roster of some of the most closely watched development programs in biopharma. And Evaluate has added 6 must-watch experimental drugs to the top 10 as drugs fail or go on to a first approval. With apologies to the list maker, I revamped this to rank the top 10 by projected 2024 sales, instead of Evaluate's net present value rankings.

It's how we roll at Endpoints News.

Here is a quick summary of the rest of the top 10:

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Arc­turus ex­pands col­lab­o­ra­tion, adding $30M cash; Ku­ra shoots for $100M raise

→  Rare dis­ease play­er Ul­tragenyx $RARE is ex­pand­ing its al­liance with Arc­turus $ARCT, pay­ing $24 mil­lion for eq­ui­ty and an­oth­er $6 mil­lion in an up­front as the two part­ners ex­pand their col­lab­o­ra­tion to in­clude up to 12 tar­gets. “This ex­pand­ed col­lab­o­ra­tion fur­ther so­lid­i­fies our mR­NA plat­form by adding ad­di­tion­al tar­gets and ex­pand­ing our abil­i­ty to po­ten­tial­ly treat more dis­eases,” said Emil Kakkis, the CEO at Ul­tragenyx. “We are pleased with the progress of our on­go­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion. Our most ad­vanced mR­NA pro­gram, UX053 for the treat­ment of Glyco­gen Stor­age Dis­ease Type III, is ex­pect­ed to move in­to the clin­ic next year, and we look for­ward to fur­ther build­ing up­on the ini­tial suc­cess of this part­ner­ship.”

John Chiminski, Catalent CEO - File Photo

'It's a growth play': Catal­ent ac­quires Bris­tol-My­er­s' Eu­ro­pean launch pad, ex­pand­ing glob­al CD­MO ops

Catalent is staying on the growth track.

Just two months after committing $1.2 billion to pick up Paragon and take a deep dive into the sizzling hot gene therapy manufacturing sector, the CDMO is bouncing right back with a deal to buy out Bristol-Myers’ central launchpad for new therapies in Europe, acquiring a complex in Anagni, Italy, southwest of Rome, that will significantly expand its capacity on the continent.

There are no terms being offered, but this is no small deal. The Anagni campus employs some 700 staffers, and Catalent is planning to go right in — once the deal closes late this year — with a blueprint to build up the operations further as they expand on oral solid, biologics, and sterile product manufacturing and packaging.

This is an uncommon deal, Catalent CEO John Chiminski tells me. But it offers a shortcut for rapid growth that cuts years out of developing a green fields project. That’s time Catalent doesn’t have as the industry undergoes unprecedented expansion around the world.

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UP­DAT­ED: Chica­go biotech ar­gues blue­bird, Third Rock 'killed' its ri­val, pi­o­neer­ing tha­lassemia gene ther­a­py in law­suit

Blue­bird bio $BLUE chief Nick Leschly court­ed con­tro­ver­sy last week when he re­vealed the com­pa­ny’s be­ta tha­lassemia treat­ment will car­ry a jaw-drop­ping $1.8 mil­lion price tag over a 5-year pe­ri­od in Eu­rope — mak­ing it the plan­et’s sec­ond most ex­pen­sive ther­a­py be­hind No­var­tis’ $NVS fresh­ly ap­proved spinal mus­cu­lar at­ro­phy ther­a­py, Zol­gens­ma, at $2.1 mil­lion. A Chica­go biotech, mean­while, has been fum­ing at the side­lines. In a law­suit filed ear­li­er this month, Er­rant Gene Ther­a­peu­tics al­leged that blue­bird and ven­ture cap­i­tal group Third Rock un­law­ful­ly prised a vi­ral vec­tor, de­vel­oped in part­ner­ship with the Memo­r­i­al Sloan Ket­ter­ing Can­cer Cen­ter (MSK), from its grasp, and thwart­ed the de­vel­op­ment of its sem­i­nal gene ther­a­py.

Neil Woodford. Woodford Investment Management via YouTube

Wood­ford braces po­lit­i­cal storm as UK fi­nan­cial reg­u­la­tors scru­ti­nize fund sus­pen­sion

The shock of Neil Wood­ford’s de­ci­sion to block with­drawals for his flag­ship fund is still rip­pling through the rest of his port­fo­lio — and be­yond. Un­der po­lit­i­cal pres­sure, UK fi­nan­cial reg­u­la­tors are now tak­ing a hard look while in­vestors con­tin­ue to flee.

In a re­sponse let­ter to an MP, the Fi­nan­cial Con­duct Au­thor­i­ty re­vealed that it’s opened an in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­to the sus­pen­sion fol­low­ing months of en­gage­ment with Link Fund So­lu­tions, which tech­ni­cal­ly del­e­gat­ed Wood­ford’s firm to man­age its funds.

Gilead baits new al­liance with $45M up­front, div­ing in­to the busy pro­tein degra­da­tion field

Gilead is jump­ing on board the pro­tein degra­da­tion band­wag­on. And they’re turn­ing to a low-pro­file Third Rock start­up for the ex­per­tise. But if you were look­ing for a trans­for­ma­tion­al deal to kick up fresh en­thu­si­asm for Gilead, you’ll have to re­main pa­tient.

This one will have a long way to go be­fore they get in­to the clin­ic.

The big biotech said Wednes­day morn­ing that it is pay­ing $45 mil­lion up­front and re­serv­ing a whop­ping $2.3 bil­lion in biotech bucks if San Fran­cis­co-based Nurix can point the way to new can­cer ther­a­pies, as well as drugs for oth­er, un­spec­i­fied dis­eases.

A new num­ber 1 drug? Keytru­da tapped to top the 10 biggest block­busters on the world stage by 2024

Analysts may be fretting about Keytruda’s longterm prospects as a host of rival therapies elbow their way to the market. But the folks at Evaluate Pharma are confident that last year’s $7 billion earner is headed for glory, tapping it to beat out the current #1 therapy Humira as AbbVie watches that franchise swoon over the next 5 years.

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