PharmaShots' Most Read News of 2020

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PharmaShots' Most Read News of 2020

Lockdown' declared Collins Dictionary word of the year. The year 2020, well known as COVID-19 year has been a busy year for global pharma and biotech companies involved in M&A, option & licensing agreements, and gaining approvals. Our team has compiled a list of 30 most read life sciences news on PharmaShots in 2020.

1. Bayer Signs an Exclusive Option to License Agreement with Dare Biosciences to Commercialize Ovaprene in the US

  • Dare to receive up front, $20M as option exercise fee, $310M as commercial milestones, royalties on sales of the product along with access to Bayer's clinical and market capabilities and remain responsible for development & regulatory activities of Ovaprene
  • Bayer to get exclusive right to commercialize Ovaprene in the US, once approved by the FDA. Dare is expected to file IDE for the therapy in H1'20 and the initiation of its clinical study in H2'20 following FDA's review and clearance of the IDE
  • Ovaprene is an investigational hormone-free monthly vaginal contraceptive, currently in development for the prevention of pregnancy and if approved, will be the first monthly non-hormonal contraceptive therapy

2. Theramex to Acquire Commercial Rights of MSD's Zoely to Expand its Footprints

  • Theramax acquires commercialization rights of Zoely, allowing it to commercialize the therapy in 50+ countries globally. Earlier, Theramax has right to commercialize Zoely in eleven countries in the EU while MSD retains rights in the US and Canada
  • The acquisition of further rights of Zoely expands Theramex global footprints by providing innovative therapies to maintain the healthcare of women
  • Zoely is a combined oral contraceptive therapy consisting of two steroid hormones: 17-beta estradiol and nomegestrol acetate

3. Gilead Signs an Exclusive License Agreement with Rockefeller University for its Portfolio of HIV Abs

  • Rockfeller to receive up front, milestones plus royalties on sales and will retain rights to perform non-clinical and early-stage clinical research on the portfolio of HIV Abs. Gilead to get exclusive rights to develop and commercialize Rockefeller's full portfolio of HIV bNAbs
  • The focus of the agreement is to enhance Gilead's HIV pipeline and will advance academic programs into potential future products
  • 3BNC117 and 10-1074 are clinical-stage products with the ability to be used as HIV long-acting therapies for treatment and prevention

4. Fujifilm's CAD EYE Receives CE Mark to Support the Detection of Colonic Polyp Utilizing AI in the EU

  • Fujifilm's CAD EYE receives CE mark, backing the real-time detection of colonic polyps during colonoscopy utilizing AI, will be available with software EW10-EC01 and the compatible expansion unit EX-1 in combination with the ELUXEO 7000 system
  • CAD EYE utilizes FUJIFILM's REiLi AI technology and can perform complex segmentation of 2D/3D images, spot lesions & is compatible with various imaging modalities. It automatically engages with white light or LCI mode to improve the accuracy of lesion detection
  • CAD EYE is customized detection support used with the ELUXEO system, aimed to improve lesion detection in the colon at the expert level and is expected to be available with EX-1 in Mar'2020

5. GSK Reports the Acceptance of EMA's MAA for Zejula (niraparib) as 1L Maintenance Treatment for Platinum-Responsive Advanced Ovarian Cancer

  • The EMA has accepted Type II Variation (T2V) for Zejula as maintenance therapy in a 1L setting for women with advanced platinum-responsive advanced OC, regardless of biomarker status. The validation indicates the acceptance of MAA and the initiation of CHMP's formal review process
  • The submission is based on P-III PRIMA study assessing Zejula vs PBO in women in a ratio (2:1) as 1L therapy for stage III/ IV platinum-responsive advanced OC. The study demonstrated clinical outcomes of Zejula
  • Zejula (PO, qd) is a PARP inhibitor, indicated as a monothx. for the maintenance treatment of patients with platinum-sensitive relapsed high grade serous epithelial ovarian, fallopian tube, or primary peritoneal cancer who are in response to platinum-based CT

6. Esperion's Nexlizet (bempedoic acid and ezetimibe) Tablet Receives the US FDA's Approval as LDL-Cholesterol Lowering Medicine

  • The approval is based on P-III trial Fixed Combination Drug Product LDL-C Lowering program, involves assessing of Nexlizet vs PBO when added on to maximally tolerated statins
  • The study resulted in well-tolerated data and lowered LDL-C by 38%, when added on to maximally tolerated statins. Also, the results are published in The European Journal of Preventative Cardiology
  • Nexlizet is an oral qd, non-statin LDL-cholesterol lowering medicine approved by the US FDA on Feb 21, 2020 and will be available in Jul 2020. Nexletol (bempedoic acid) is a novel ATP Citrate Lyase inhibitor involves lowering of LDL-C by cholesterol biosynthesis and up-regulating the LDL receptors, will be available from Mar 30, 2020

7. AstraZeneca Reports Results of Imfinzi + Tremelimumab in P-III CASPIAN Study as 1L Treatment for Extensive-Stage Small Cell Lung Cancer

  • The P-III CASPIAN study involves assessing of Imfinzi + SOC (etoposide and carboplatin/ cisplatin CT) or Imfinzi + Tremelimumab vs CT as monothx. as a 1L treatment for 805 patients with ES-SCLC in 200+ centers across 23 countries
  • The first arm (Imfinzi + SOC) has met its 1EPs of OS in Jun'2019 while the second arm (Imfinzi + tremelimumab) did not meet its 1EPs of OS. The safety profile of each therapy is consistent with the known safety profiles
  • Imfinzi (durvalumab) is mAb targeting PD-L1, acts by blocking the interaction of PD-L1 with PD-1 & CD80 and is currently under review in combination with etoposide and carboplatin/cisplatin as 1L treatment for ES-SCLC in the US, EU and Japan with its anticipated PDUFA date in 2021

8. Novo Nordisk's Fiasp (insulin aspart injection) Receives Health Canada's Approval for Children with Diabetes

  • Health Canada has expanded the approval of Fiasp (10mL vials) to include use in insulin infusion pumps for the improvement of glycemic control in pediatric patients aged =2yrs with diabetes (T1D/T2D both)
  • The approval is based on data from 7 clinical studies that verified the safety & efficacy of Fiasp in children. The label change for use in insulin infusion pumps is based on Health Canada's review of data from 5 clinical studies which demonstrated the efficacy of Fiasp used in insulin infusion pumps in adults with diabetes
  • Fiasp is the first and only fast-acting mealtime insulin injection, administered at the beginning of a meal or within 20 minutes after starting a meal and has received FDA's approval as an IV infusion or SC MDI in adults with diabetes

9. Merck KGaA's ERBITUX (cetuximab) Receives NMPA's Approval as a 1L treatment for Recurrent/ Metastatic Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Head and Neck

  • The approval is based on P-III CHANGE II study assessing extreme regimen (ERBITUX + cisplatin + 5-FU, followed by ERBITUX as maintenance therapy) vs Pt. based CT (cisplatin + 5-FU) in 243 patients aged =18 yrs. with R/M SCCHN, prior not treated with any systemic therapy in China
  • The P-III CHANGE II study results: improvement in PFS (5.5 vs 4.2mos.); OS (10.2 vs 8.4mos.), ORR (50% vs 27%) with no new safety findings
  • ERBITUX is an IgG1 mAb targeting the EGFR and is an approved therapy in 100+ countries for RAS wild-type m-CRC and for HNSCC

10. Bausch Health to Initiate Clinical Study Evaluating Virazole (Ribavirin for Inhalation Solution, USP) in Patients with COVID-19 in Canada

  • The clinical study will evaluate the safety and efficacy of Virazole + SOC in hospitalized patients aged =18yrs. with respiratory distress due to COVID-19
  • The clinical study has been approved by Health Canada and is expected to initiate within the next few weeks. The company is working with multiple health authorities including the US FDA regarding additional studies to assess Virazole as a treatment for COVID-19 infection
  • Virazole (ribavirin for inhalation solution, USP) aerosol is indicated only for lower respiratory tract infection due to RSV. The Bausch Foundation is working with health authorities in Italy to make Virazole for inhalation available free of charge in compassionate use in hospitals

11. Amgen Signs a Partnership with Adaptive Biotechnologies to Develop Abs for COVID-19

  • Adaptive to expand its platform for selection of B cell receptors of recovered patients from COVID-19. Amgen will utilize its Ab engineering and drug development capabilities to select and develop Abs designed to bind and neutralize SARS-CoV-2. Additionally, Amgen's subsidiary DeCODE Genetics located in Iceland, will provide genetic information from patients infected with COVID-19
  • The focus of the collaboration is to combine expertise to discover and develop fully human neutralizing Abs for SARS-CoV-2 virus to treat COVID-19 where Adaptive's immunological medicine platform will help in identification of virus neutralizing Abs
  • Additionally, the Abs can be used to treat patients with COVID-19 and can be administered to patients with who are at increased risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2

12. BioNTech and Pfizer Complete Dosing of BNT162 in First Cohort of P-I/II Study in Germany

  • The companies reported that the first cohort of BioNTech's P-I/II clinical trial has dosed 12 participants with BNT162 in Germany since dosing began on Apr 23, 2020. Following the regulatory approvals, both the companies plan to initiate the clinical study for BNT162 in the US
  • The dose-escalation portion of the P-I/II study will include ~200 healthy participants aged 18-55yrs. and will target a dose range of 1-100 µg, focusing on determining the optimal dose for further studies and to evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of the vaccine
  • The study will evaluate the effects of repeated vaccination following a prime injection for 3 vaccine candidates that contain uRNA or modRNA. The fourth vaccine candidate contains saRNA will be evaluated following a single dose of vaccine. Additionally, BioNTech is collaborating with Fosun Pharma to develop BNT162 in China, where the companies expect to conduct clinical studies

13. Fresenius Kabi Signs an Agreement with Medec to Commercialize IDACIO (adalimumab, biosimilar) in Germany

  • Fresenius Kabi and Medec collaborated to offer IDACIO as an additional therapy option for rheumatologists and dermatologists to treat rheumatic illnesses. From Jun 01, 2020, Medec's will market the biosimilar therapy
  • Last year, Fresenius Kabi launched IDACIO in the EU for arthritis and psoriasis. The collaboration offers patients and doctors new benefits and synergies in therapy offerings as well as consulting
  • Medac provides methotrexate (metex PEN, metex FS) as the parenteral treatment of patients with chronic inflammatory diseases, the affected patients are treated with a combination of methotrexate and adalimumab

14. Neurocrine Biosciences Exercises its Option with Idorsia for ACT-709478

  • Idorsia to receive $45M upfront in cash, $365M for development & regulatory milestone, one-time sales threshold and royalties on sales. Additionally, will receive $7M in funding to discover, identify and develop additional novel T-type calcium channel blockers
  • Neurocrine exercises its option to license rights for ACT-709478 (post IND acceptance from the US FDA on Apr 30, 2020) for rare pediatric epilepsy. In 2019, Neurocrine and Idorsia signed a preclinical research collaboraion for ACT-709478 to treat rare pediatric epilepsy
  • ACT-709478 is an selective, orally-active and brain penetrating T-type calcium channel blocker also received the US FDA's Rare Pediatric Disease designation for rare pediatric epilepsy with completion of P-I in 2019 and expected P-II initiation in in H2'20

15. Moderna Signs a Ten-Year Worldwide Agreement with Lonza to Manufacture mRNA-1273 Against COVID-19

  • The companies intend to establish manufacturing suites at Lonza's facilities in the US and Switzerland to manufacture mRNA-1273 at both sites. The collaboration will deploy Lonza's global expertise in technology transfer and manufacturing while the technology transfer expected to begin in Jun'2020
  • The focus of the collaboration is to enable the manufacturing of mRNA-1273 up to 1B doses/year and anticipates the manufacturing of the first batches of mRNA-1273 at Lonza US site in Jul'2020, assuming the currently expected dose of 50µg
  • Manufacturing operations at Lonza US site is covered by Moderna's agreement with BARDA under which BARDA will support late-stage clinical development programs of mRNA-1273. On Apr 27, 2020, Moderna has submitted IND to the US FDA for P-II studies with its expected initiation in Q2'20

16. Roche's Enspryng (satralizumab) Receives MHLW's Approval for Neuromyelitis Optica Spectrum Disorder in Japan

  • The approval is based on two P-III SAkuraStar & SAkuraSky studies involve assessing Enspryng (120mg, SC, q4w) as a monothx & as an add-on therapy to baseline IST vs PBO in 95 & 83 patients aged 20-70 & 13-73yrs. in a ratio (2:1) & (1:1) administered at week 0,2 & 4 in patients with NMOSD respectively
  • In overall population: reduction in the risk of relapse (62% & 55%); In the pre-specified subgroup of AQP4-IgG seropositive patients: reduction in the risk of relapse (79% & 74%) respectively
  • Enspryng is a mAb targeting IL-6 and is under PR in Canada for NMOSD patients who are AQP4-IgG seropositive. In Oct'2019, the FDA & EMA has accepted the MAA for the therapy with expected CHMP & FDA's decision in 2020

17. Cipla Launches Cipremi (remdesivir lyophilized powder for injection 100 mg) to Treat Patients with Severe COVID-19

  • The US FDA has issued a EUA to Gilead for emergency use of remdesivir to treat hospitalized COVID-19 patients. In May, Gilead has extended a voluntary non-exclusive license to Cipla to manufacture and market Cipla's Remedisvir called CIPREMI
  • Cipla has received DCGI's approval for restricted emergency use in India as part of the accelerated approval process. Cipla will provide training on the use of the drug, informed patient consent documents, conduct post-marketing surveillance as well as to conduct a P-IV clinical trial on Indian patients
  • As per ACTT-1 study, 1063 patients were treated with Remdesivir vs PBO over 60 centers across the US, EU and Asia demonstrated faster time to clinical recovery in hospitalized patients with the mortality rate as (7.1% vs 11.9%)

18. Sorrento Submits EUA to the US FDA for its COVI-TRACK Test to Detect COVID-19

  • Sorrento has reported that its EUA is under review at the US FDA for its COVI-TRACK in vitro diagnostic test kit for the detection of IgG and IgM Abs in sera of patients exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus
  • Following the issuance of an EUA, the COVI-TRACK test will be available for distribution to clinical testing sites nationwide. The assay develops three clear lines that confirm the assay validity and the qualitative detection & differentiation of IgM and IgG Abs to the COVID-19
  • Sorrento has secured manufacturing capacity to ramp up the production of up to 5M test kits/ month with the availability of results in =8mins. The assay showed specificity > 97% and diagnostic sensitivity of > 94% in an analytical validation

19. Dr. Reddy's and GRA Collaborate with Fujifilm for Avigan (favipiravir) to Treat COVID-19 Outside the Japan

  •  Fujifilm to receive upfront, license fee along with royalties on sales of the therapy. Dr. Reddy's and GRA to get the exclusive right to develop & commercialize Avigan globally (Ex- Japan). Additionally, Dr. Reddy's would have exclusive rights for the therapy in India
  • Fujifilm will provide pre/ clinical data of Avigan to Dr. Reddy's and GRA for utilizing it in clinical studies targeting COVID-19. Moreover, Dr. Reddy's will get right to use Avigan's patents of formulation and manufacturing method and will establish a setup for developing drug-like Avigan and utilizes the GRA's global sales network to supply the manufactured drugs
  • Fujifilm is currently conducting a clinical study on Avigan targeting COVID-19 patients in the US and Japan and is collaborating with multiple companies to increase the drug's production

20. ViiV Healthcare's Rukobia (fostemsavir) Receives the US FDA's Approval for HIV in Patients with Limited Treatment Options

  • The approval is based on P-III BRIGHTE study assessing Rukobia (600mg, ER) + OBT in 371 HTE adults living with multidrug-resistant HIV. Participants were enrolled in either a randomized or nonrandomized cohort
  • In the randomized cohort, 60% adults achieved undetectable HIV viral load and clinically meaningful improvements to CD4+ T-cell count @96wks., HIV-1 RNA <40 copies/mL @24 & 96wks. (53% & 60%); changes in CD4+ cell count (90 & 205 cells/mm3) respectively
  • In the nonrandomized cohort, 37% achieved HIV-1 RNA <40 copies/mL @24 & 96wks.; HIV-1 RNA <200 copies/mL (42% & 39%); mean changes in CD4+ cell count (41 & 119 cells/mm3) respectively. Fostemsavir is a first-in-class HIV-1 attachment inhibitor, currently under EMA's review with additional submissions to regulatory authorities anticipated in 2020 & 2021

21. Zydus Launches Cheapest Version of Remdesivir at $37.41 per Vial in India

  • The company has launched Remdec at a price of $37.41 (Rs. 2800) for a 100mg lyophilized injection. The generic version is the most economical Remdesivir brand in India
  • In Jun'2020, Zydus signed a non-exclusive agreement with Gilead to manufacture and commercialize Remdesivir for severe COVID-19 in India. The API of the therapy has been developed and manufactured at the group's API manufacturing facilities in Gujarat
  • The drug will be made available across India via Zydus strong distribution chain reaching out to government and private hospitals treating COVID patient

22. Johnson & Johnson to Acquire Momenta Pharmaceuticals for $6.5B

  • J&J acquires Momenta in all-cash transaction at a price of $52.50/ share, making a total deal value as $6.5B. The transaction is expected to be closed in H2'20
  • The acquisition allows J&J to expand its portfolio for autoimmune diseases with the addition of Momenta's Nipocalimab (M281) to its pipeline. In addition to nipocalimab, Janssen will acquire Momenta's pipeline of clinical and pre-clinical assets
  • Janssen plans to retain Momenta's presence in Cambridge, Massachusetts which will increase J&J footprint and capabilities in the key innovation hub. Nipocalimab provides an opportunity for Janssen to deliver transformative treatments in autoantibody-driven autoimmune diseases

23.  Novartis Beovu (brolucizumab) Receives EMA's Approval for its Safety Label Update to Treat Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration

  • The EU label update includes additional categorization of retinal vasculitis and/or retinal vascular occlusion, usually in the intraocular inflammation. The approval follows Novartis completion of safety review and initiation of an update to the Beovu prescribing information globally
  • The label update is applicable to all 27 EU member states as well as UK, Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein. Beovu is now approved for wet AMD treatment in 40+ countries including in the US, EU, UK, Japan, Canada, and Australia
  • Beovu (brolucizumab) is the clinically advanced humanized single-chain Ab fragment (scFv) that enhances tissue penetration, rapid clearance from the systemic circulation, and drug delivery characteristics. Novartis has established a multidisciplinary panel of internal experts collaborating with external advisors to examine the root cause, potential risk factors, and mitigation of AEs

24. Boehringer Ingelheim Initiates P-II Study of BI 764198 for Patients with Severe Respiratory Illness from COVID-19

  • The P-II trial will assess BI 764198 (qd for ~4wks.) in patients hospitalized for COVID-19 with expected enrollment initiation in Oct'2020. The 1EPs will be the percentage of patients who are alive and free of mechanical ventilation at day 29 of treatment while other EPs include clinical improvement, oxygen saturation & ICU admission
  • The therapy has shown a reduction in cellular damage and lung edema in preclinical studies and may provide similar benefits in patients with severe SARS-CoV-2 infection. BI 764198 was well tolerated in P-I study in healthy adults
  • BI 764198 is potent & selective inhibitor of TRPC6, focusing to reduce the need for ventilator support and to improve patient recovery rate

25. Roche's Tecentriq in Combination with Avastin Receives China NMPA's Approval for the treatment of Unresectable Hepatocellular Carcinoma

  • The approval was based on the P-III IMbrave150 study (n=501) assessing the combination of Tecentriq (1200 mg, IV) and Avastin (15 mg/kg, IV) or sorafenib (400 mg, bid) in unresectable HCC patients who had not received prior systemic therapy which included analyses of a cohort of Chinese patients (n=194) from the same study
  • Results: Tecentriq in combination with Avastin reduced the risk of OS by 56% (among Chinese patients) and 42% (global results) & the PFS risk by 40% (among Chinese patients) and 41% (global results) as compared with sorafenib
  • IMbrave150 is the 1st P-III cancer immunotherapy study to show an improvement in OS and PFS in people with unresectable or metastatic HCC compared with sorafenib. Additionally. in May 2020, the US FDA approved Tecentriq in combination with Avastin for the treatment of people with unresectable or metastatic HCC who have not received prior systemic therapy

26. Sanofi Entered into an Agreement with Merck to Conduct a P-II Study of THOR-707 in Sequenced Administration with MSD's Keytruda (pembrolizumab) in Patients with Various Cancers

  • Sanofi will sponsor the clinical trials while MSD will provide KEYTRUDA. Additionally, Sanofi is separately evaluating the activity of THOR-707 in combination with other anti-PD-1 antibodies, including Libtayo (cemiplimab-rwlc) and with anti-EGFR and anti-CD38 antibodies for various types of cancer tumors
  • In preclinical studies, THOR-707 demonstrated the ability to induce the expansion of CD8+T-cells resulting in anti-tumor effects both as a single agent as well as in combination with an anti-PD1 mAb
  • THOR-707 is currently being evaluated by Sanofi in an ongoing P-I dose escalation and expansion trial assessing THOR-707 and determining its recommended P-II dose alone and in combination with anti-PD-1 and anti-EGFR antibodies

27. AstraZeneca and Fusion Collaborate to Develop and Commercialize Radiopharmaceuticals and Combination Therapies for Cancer

  • Fusion to receive up front, as well as development milestones and other payments. The companies will jointly discover, develop, and have an option to co-commercialize novel TATs in the US while AstraZeneca will lead commercialization in the ROW with equal profit & loss sharing globally
  • The collaboration leverages Fusion's TAT platform and expertise in radiopharmaceuticals with AstraZeneca's leading portfolio of Abs and cancer therapies, including DDRis
  • Additionally, the companies will exclusively explore certain specified combination strategies between TATs (including Fusion's FPI-1434) and AstraZeneca's therapies for the treatment of multiple cancers. Both companies will retain full rights to their respective assets

28. Lucira's All-In-One Test Kit Receives the US FDA's EUA as the First COVID-19 Test for Self-Testing at Home

  • The Lucira's COVID-19 all-in-one test kit test has been authorized for home use with self-collected nasal swab samples in individuals aged= 14yrs. who are suspected of COVID-19 by their HCPs
  • It is also authorized for use in POC settings for all ages, but samples must be collected by an HCP when the test is used at the POC to test individuals <14yrs. The test is currently authorized for prescription use only
  • Lucira plans to amend its EUA or file a new EUA so people who think they're infected with COVID-19 can communicate with a medical professional online through a website to arrange a prescription and overnight delivery of the test kit by Q2'21

29. UCB Acquires Handl Therapeutics to Augment its Gene Therapy Portfolio

  • The acquisition will bolster UCB’s pipeline program, capabilities, and platforms in the gene therapy space. The Handl Therapeutics will continue to be based in Leuven, Belgium while working closely with UCB’s international research teams
  • In addition, the UCB collaborated with Lacerta to focus on CNS diseases, under which Lacera will lead research, preclinical activities, and the early manufacturing process development, while UCB will complete IND-enabling studies, manufacturing, and clinical development
  • The collaboration will allow UCB to access Lacerta’s expertise in AAV-based CNS targeted gene therapies, fortifying UCB’s ability to produce effective treatments for neurodegenerative diseases

30. Janssen Acquires Rights to Hemera’s HMR59 for Late-Stage Age-Related Macular Degeneration

  • Janssen acquires rights to Hemera’s HMR59, administered as a one-time, outpatient, IVT inj. to help preserve vision in patients with geographic atrophy
  • The acquisition will boost Janssen’s eye disease portfolio & strengthens its gene therapy capabilities
  • HMR59 is designed to increase the ability of retina cells to make a soluble form of CD59, helping to prevent further damage to the retina and preserve vision. The P-I study of the therapy for patients with geographic atrophy is completed while the P-I study exploring HMR59 in patients with wet-AMD is currently conducting follow-up visits to evaluate the long-term safety


Related Post: PharmaShots' Most Read News of 2019


Senior Editor

This content piece was prepared by our former Senior Editor. She had expertise in life science research and was an avid reader. For any query reach out to us at connect@pharmashots.com

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