Coronavirus: The Latest Problem Big Pharma Won’t Solve

Barron's | February 07, 2020

Time for new pharmaceutical-innovation models. The pharmaceutical industry is one of the most profitable on earth, expected to be worth $1.4 trillion by the end of 2020. Last year, the four drug companies that dominated the vaccine market made $30 billion selling vaccines. The pharmaceutical industry benefits from considerable incentives, including in the form of patents and other market monopolies to sustain vaccine and treatment prices well above production cost. Society pays this price—in theory—because it enables the industry to generate money needed to invest in developing new health innovations. With the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, a disease for which there is neither a vaccine nor an effective drug treatment, the call for such innovations is growing louder by the day. With global sales in vaccines alone totaling $54 billion in 2019 and predicted to near $60 billion in 2020, one would think that industry has the reserves to jump at this challenge. But so far, as reported by Barron’s, none of the four top vaccine companies has shown significant interest.

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Athira Pharma Advances Phase 2/3 LIFT-AD Clinical Study of Fosgonimeton in Mild-to-Moderate Alzheimer’s Patients

Athira Pharma, Inc. | October 18, 2022

Athira Pharma, Inc. a late clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing small molecules to restore neuronal health and slow neurodegeneration, today announced that following an unblinded interim efficacy and futility analysis, an independent data monitoring committee recommended continuation of the LIFT-AD study of fosgonimeton in patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease. The committee also determined that, with the additional enrollment of fewer than 150 patients for a total enrollment of less than 300 patients without background therapy the study will be well powered for the primary endpoint given the preliminary effect size observed. The primary endpoint of LIFT-AD is the Global Statistical Test, an unweighted composite score comprising measures of cognition and function. Results from the completed exploratory ACT-AD Phase 2 study showed a favorable safety profile and suggested positive effects on measures of cognition function and neurodegeneration in patients taking fosgonimeton without background therapy. Guided by these results, the Company proactively amended LIFT-AD to focus on patients not on background therapy. The unblinded interim analysis was then conducted in approximately 100 patients not on background therapy to corroborate observations from ACT-AD and ensure LIFT-AD is well powered to determine the effect of fosgonimeton on clinically meaningful and commercially relevant endpoints. “The results from the data monitoring committee’s unblinded analysis give us confidence in a potentially positive outcome for LIFT-AD, as stringent evaluation criteria were applied based on validated and clinically meaningful cognitive and functional outcomes. This analysis supports the potential clinical benefits of fosgonimeton treatment and underscores the rationale for continued development of this promising new therapy.” Hans Moebius, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Medical Officer of Athira “We are very excited by the results of this independent review as we believe they mitigate the risk of the fosgonimeton development plan, support the potential clinical benefit of fosgonimeton and inform the sample size needed to achieve success with LIFT-AD,” said Mark Litton, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Athira. “We are now targeting to complete enrollment in mid-2023 and report topline data in early 2024. Importantly, we have a strong balance sheet to execute our plans through key data readouts and beyond. Moving forward, we remain keenly focused on advancing this novel investigational therapy with the hope of positively impacting the lives of millions of Alzheimer’s patients. “Our goal with fosgonimeton is to demonstrate its ability to improve cognition and function and to ultimately provide neuroprotection. The ACT-AD study suggested these benefits, and the results of the LIFT-AD interim analysis corroborate those findings,” added Dr. Litton. “We believe any drug that can demonstrate neuroprotection could become a treatment of choice for mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s patients.” About the LIFT-AD Clinical Study LIFT-AD is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of fosgonimeton for patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Patients are randomized across two dose groups and one placebo group on a 1:1:1 basis to receive a subcutaneous injection of fosgonimeton or placebo once daily over a treatment course of 26 weeks. The primary endpoint for LIFT-AD is the Global Statistical Test, an unweighted composite score comprising measures of cognition (Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive Subscale and function. Additional information on the LIFT-AD study can be found at: NCT04488419. About Fosgonimeton Fosgonimeton is a small molecule designed to enhance the activity of hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and its receptor, MET, to impact neurodegeneration and regenerate brain tissue. The function of the HGF/MET receptor system may be impaired in the brain under conditions of neurodegeneration. In addition to Alzheimer’s disease, fosgonimeton has the potential to address the broader dementia population, including Parkinson’s disease dementia and Dementia with Lewy bodies, as the mode of action focuses on network recovery and synaptic signal transmission in the brain. The ACT-AD trial was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R01AG06268. The information presented in this press release is solely the responsibility of Athira and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. About Athira Pharma, Inc. Athira Pharma, Inc., headquartered in the Seattle, Washington area, is a late clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing small molecules to restore neuronal health and slow neurodegeneration. Athira aims to provide rapid cognitive improvement and alter the course of neurological diseases with its novel mechanism of action. Athira is currently advancing its pipeline of therapeutic candidates targeting the HGF/MET neurotrophic system for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease dementia, Dementia with Lewy bodies and neuropsychiatric indications.

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Merck Enters Collaboration and Option to License Agreement with Nerviano Medical Sciences to Develop Next-Generation PARP1 Selective Inhibitor

Merck | September 22, 2022

Merck, a leading science and technology company, announced a collaboration agreement with licensing option with Nerviano Medical Sciences S.r.l. for the next-generation highly selective and brain-penetrant PARP1 inhibitor, NMS-293. NMS-293 has strong potential in combination with a wide variety of DNA-damaging agents, including systemic or targeted chemotherapy or with DNA damage response inhibitors, in numerous tumor types. NMS-293 is in early clinical development for the treatment of patients with BRCA-mutated tumors as a single agent and in combination with temozolomide in recurrent glioblastoma. “Building on the therapeutic impact that PARP inhibitors have had over the last several years, we believe this new PARP1 program, if successful, could fill a significant unmet need for patients unresponsive to existing PARP inhibitors with an improved hematological adverse event profile. The work of NMS to discover and advance this next generation PARP1 selective inhibitor coupled with our deep expertise in developing therapies which modify DNA damage response mechanisms, creates a strong foundation to further develop this investigational therapy for patients.” Victoria Zazulina, M.D., Head of Development Unit Oncology for the Healthcare business of Merck PARP is key in the repair of DNA damage, and PARP inhibitors have been shown to be highly efficacious in the treatment of patients with tumors deficient in homologous recombination repair, such as breast, ovarian, prostate and pancreatic cancers with BRCA-mutations. Under the current agreement, Merck will make early payments (up-front and option exercise fees) of up to $65 million to NMS. Furthermore, NMS will receive payments for the achievement of certain development, regulatory and commercial milestones and tiered royalties on net sales by Merck. Upon exercise of the option, NMS will grant to Merck the exclusive rights to research, develop, manufacture, and commercialize NMS-293. During the option period, NMS and Merck will collaborate on the clinical development of NMS-293, with NMS designing, sponsoring, conducting, and funding global clinical trials. About NMS-293 NMS-293 is an orally available small molecule inhibitor of PARP1 and is currently in early clinical development for the treatment of patients with BRCA mutated tumors as single agent and with recurrent Glioblastoma (GBM), a brain tumor with very high medical need, in combination with temozolomide (TMZ). About Merck Merck, a leading science and technology company, operates across life science, healthcare and electronics. More than 60,000 employees work to make a positive difference to millions of people’s lives every day by creating more joyful and sustainable ways to live. From advancing gene editing technologies and discovering unique ways to treat the most challenging diseases to enabling the intelligence of devices – the company is everywhere. In 2021, Merck generated sales of € 19.7 billion in 66 countries.

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Glaukos Announces More Than 1 Million iStent® Technologies Implanted Worldwide

Glaukos | September 12, 2022

Glaukos Corporation an ophthalmic medical technology and pharmaceutical company focused on novel therapies for the treatment of glaucoma, corneal disorders and retinal diseases announced a significant milestone as its iStent® family of technologies have now been implanted in more than one million procedures worldwide. This market-leading milestone is a testament to the decades of investment from Glaukos as the corporate founder and pioneer of the now well-established micro-invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS) marketplace. “One million iStents implanted is a tremendous accomplishment and I’m grateful to Glaukos for their continued dedication, investment and pioneering spirit to advance the development of innovative glaucoma technologies designed to improve the treatment paradigm for the benefit of patients worldwide,” said Ike Ahmed MD, Professor, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at John A. Moran Eye Center in Utah, United States and Chief Innovation Officer at Prism Eye Institute in Toronto, Canada. “As one of the early adopters, I have experienced first-hand how iStent, as the first MIGS device, and subsequent generations have fundamentally revolutionized the way we think and treat glaucoma over the last decade. Today, the disease state is more manageable, and we are intervening earlier with micro-invasive surgical options. It’s been an incredible journey thus far and I’m excited to see what the future holds for our glaucoma patients.” “iStent technologies have allowed me to change the way I treat my patients for the better. Before the introduction of iStent and MIGS, we were limited to eye drops, which we know to be problematic for patients, or invasive surgery that carried more risk than needed for mild-to-moderate glaucoma. iStent filled that gap between eye drops and invasive surgery. In my practice today, iStent inject W is my most commonly used surgical option for glaucoma patients undergoing cataract surgery. We now have patient data out past 9 years in my practice showing the iStent is still effective and safe at lowering IOP and reducing medications. I’m eagerly anticipating the exciting future innovations from Glaukos.” John Berdahl, MD, Vance Thompson Vision, South Dakota “I am proud of this tremendous achievement for our company and the MIGS marketplace, reflecting decades of investment and successful advancement of our strategic vision to transform the treatment of chronic, debilitating eye diseases through development of novel, sustainable therapies,” said Thomas Burns, Glaukos chairman and chief executive officer. “I would like to recognize our customers and employees around the world who have poured countless hours into making this market-leading achievement a reality and am grateful for their continued support going forward as we strive to create transformative platform technologies designed to improve the standard-of-care and meet unmet patient needs.” Glaukos is proud to be the corporate pioneer and global market leader in MIGS, with its family of iStent technologies supported by more than 200 peer-reviewed publications, 20 plus years of clinical and commercial experience and more than one million iStent devices implanted worldwide since its inception. The company believes it offers the industry’s most comprehensive offering of minimally-invasive, tissue-sparing glaucoma solutions, supporting its goal to provide a full range of options to fit surgeons’ individual glaucoma treatment algorithms that offer the most favorable short- and long-term benefit-to-risk calculus at every stage of disease progression, from ocular hypertension through refractory disease, and in both combo-cataract and standalone procedures. Glaukos remains dedicated to innovation and bringing customers around the world best-in-class technologies to serve their patients, continuing to invest upwards of 30% of revenue back into R&D, including new product development. A significant number of clinical studies for both current and future products are ongoing, with additional studies commencing in the near future. About Glaukos Glaukos is an ophthalmic medical technology and pharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing novel therapies for the treatment of glaucoma, corneal disorders and retinal diseases. Glaukos first developed Micro-Invasive Glaucoma Surgery as an alternative to the traditional glaucoma treatment paradigm, launching its first MIGS device commercially in 2012, and continues to develop a portfolio of technologically distinct and leverageable platforms to support ongoing pharmaceutical and medical device innovations. Products or product candidates for each of these platforms are designed to advance the standard of care through better treatment options across the areas of glaucoma, corneal disorders and retinal diseases. About iStent inject W Trabecular Micro-Bypass System (U.S.) Indication for Use: The iStent inject W Trabecular Micro-Bypass System Model G2-W is indicated for use in conjunction with cataract surgery for the reduction of intraocular pressure (IOP) in adult patients with mild to moderate primary open-angle glaucoma.

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