Moderna, AstraZeneca and J&J coronavirus shots rev up for NIH tests beginning in July: WSJ

Fiercepharma | June 10, 2020

As leading coronavirus vaccines make their way through early stages of human testing, the NIH is plotting much larger efficacy studies this summer. U.S. researchers plan to run phase 3 trials of vaccines from Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson in the coming months, the Wall Street Journal reports.  The NIH intends to start a phase 3 trial of Moderna’s vaccine in July, followed by an August trial of AstraZeneca’s vaccine and a September study of Johnson & Johnson’s shot, a U.S. government researcher told the newspaper. All three of the shots are based on brand-new technologies, and they're all reportedly among finalists in the Operation Warp Speed program. Former FDA chief Scott Gottlieb has publicly questioned the picks, pointing out the team's reliance on new technologies. Johnson & Johnson has not previously disclosed any human testing for its vaccine and the company has previously said it’s aiming to enter human studies in September. But on Wednesday, the company said it's accelerating its timeline, with plans to start a phase 1/2a study in July.

Spotlight

Pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) historically have used practices such as broad pharmacy networks and pricing models that rely on several revenue sources. Recently, new approaches have placed substantial emphasis on transparency, suggesting that concepts such as limited networks.

Spotlight

Pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) historically have used practices such as broad pharmacy networks and pricing models that rely on several revenue sources. Recently, new approaches have placed substantial emphasis on transparency, suggesting that concepts such as limited networks.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS

Astellas and MBC BioLabs Announce Astellas Future Innovator Prize to Help Biotech Start-ups Accelerate Early Drug Discovery and Research Efforts

Astellas Pharma Inc. | September 20, 2022

Astellas Venture Management LLC a wholly-owned venture capital subsidiary of Astellas Pharma Inc. and Mission Bay Capital BioLabs a life-science incubator, today announced their collaboration on the "Astellas Future Innovator Prize" formerly known as the Astellas Golden Ticket competition. Building on over three successful years, the competition offers entrepreneurial scientists or emerging biotechnology start-ups one year's priority usage of MBC BioLabs' state-of-the-art lab facility and access to Astellas' research and development (R&D) capabilities and business leaders. With a shared commitment to discovering and advancing innovative science for the potential future benefit of patients worldwide, AVM and MBC BioLabs are continuing their partnership to support scientists and early-stage companies to accelerate their novel therapeutic programs, modalities or platforms. The 2022 competition will prioritize innovative research that compliment Astellas' Focus Area Approach and pipeline. "We are truly thrilled to host the Astellas Future Innovator Prize again this year. Through our long-term collaboration with MBC BioLabs, we aim to create an environment that encourages innovation to thrive. The Astellas Future Innovator Prize enables us to provide biotech companies with expertise and capabilities to turn an innovative idea into a real solution, which could transform the lives of patients in need around the world." William Watt, President, AVM "We are pleased to continue our partnership with Astellas to uncover the innovators of tomorrow," said Douglas Crawford, MBC BioLabs General Manager. "The past winners of the Astellas Future Innovator Prize show what can be achieved by combining Astellas' support, advice and expertise with our laboratory incubator, and we are excited to see the result of our ongoing collaboration." Entrepreneurial scientists, emerging life-science and biotechnology start-ups have until November 4, 2022 to enter the Astellas Future Innovator Prize. About the Astellas Future Innovator Prize at MBC BioLabs Astellas is offering up to two prizes for pioneering scientists with innovative research that complements Astellas' areas of interest in alignment with its Focus Area Approach and pipeline, including Blindness & Regeneration, Mitochondria, Genetic Regulation, Immuno-Oncology, Cell Therapy, and other areas. The 2021 Astellas Future Innovator Prize winners were Vcreate and Weatherwax Biotechnologies, chosen for the potential of their innovations to deliver therapeutic advances for unmet medical needs and their potential synergy with Astellas' Focus Area Approach. About Astellas Venture Management LLC AVM is the wholly-owned venture capital organization within Astellas, dedicated to supporting pre-clinical, cutting-edge science that can bring VALUE to patients. For over 15 years, AVM has provided equity investments to private, early-stage companies developing therapeutic programs and platform technologies, helping them to advance their innovations faster. AVM is a strategic investor, making investments in science that will enhance the current Astellas R&D pipeline or that could catalyze new directions in discovery research. About Astellas Astellas Pharma Inc. is a pharmaceutical company conducting business in more than 70 countries around the world. We are promoting the Focus Area Approach that is designed to identify opportunities for the continuous creation of new drugs to address diseases with high unmet medical needs by focusing on Biology and Modality. Furthermore, we are also looking beyond our foundational Rx focus to create Rx+® healthcare solutions that combine our expertise and knowledge with cutting-edge technology in different fields of external partners. Through these efforts, Astellas stands on the forefront of healthcare change to turn innovative science into value for patients. About MBC BioLabs MBC BioLabs is dedicated to helping life-science startups succeed. By renting space as small as a single bench and providing these entrepreneurial scientists with access to millions of dollars of equipment, MBC BioLabs allows companies to be fast, focused, and frugal. It has three sites: one in the Dogpatch neighborhood in San Francisco and two campuses in San Carlos, California. Each site has a complete molecular biology core facility that allows companies to do experiments on day one. MBC BioLabs has partnerships with leading pharmaceutical and life-science companies as well as a built-in venture capital firm, Mission BioCapital. These partnerships provide entrepreneurs with valuable insights about where to focus their efforts and accelerates the innovation pipeline. Since opening in 2013, MBC BioLabs has helped launch and grow 290 companies. These companies have brought 58 programs to the clinic, produced 13 approved diagnostics, and raised over $14 billion.

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PHARMA TECH

BIOCORP and Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, Sign a New Partnership for Smart Drug Delivery

BIOCORP and Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany | October 11, 2022

BIOCORP a French company specialized in the design, development, and manufacturing of innovative medical devices, and Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, a leading science, and technology company, have entered into an agreement for the development and supply of a specific version of Mallya device as an accessory for one of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany's drug delivery devices. Manufactured in Clermont-Ferrand Mallya is a Bluetooth enabled clip-on device for pen injectors that collects dose and time of each injection and transfers information in real time to a companion software. Mallya is the first in its category to receive the CE-mark and commercial versions for insulin pen injectors are already available and distributed in Europe and other geographies. Major agreements have already been signed by BIOCORP with Sanofi, Novo Nordisk and Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, to develop specific versions of the technology in the field of Insulin and Human Growth Hormone (HGH). Healthcare companies BIOCORP and Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, will develop a new version of Mallya to help patients monitor their injection during their treatment. The device will automatically keep track of doses injected with timestamp and indicate that the product is administered properly, aiming to support patients with self-injections and to provide reassurance to patients. Financial details of the partnership include payments from Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, up to 5 million € for the development of the product within the first three years of the collaboration. Additional revenues are estimated to reach up to 8 million € during the first 5 years after launch depending on commercial milestones and adoption of Mallya devices by Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany patients with further upside potential in the subsequent years. "We are delighted with this new partnership with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, extending our collaboration to additional therapeutic areas. We had already announced that there is a great opportunity for our connected device Mallya in various therapeutic areas. As in diabetes, Mallya aims to reduce patients' stress and improve compliance with their treatments to optimize and secure the results “, Éric Dessertenne, CEO of BIOCORP ABOUT BIOCORP Recognized for its expertise in the development and manufacture of medical devices and delivery systems, BIOCORP has today acquired a leading position in the connected medical device market thanks to Mallya. This smart sensor for insulin injection pens allows reliable monitoring of injected doses and thus offers better compliance in the treatment of patients with diabetes. Available for sale from 2020, Mallya spearheads BIOCORP's product portfolio of innovative connected solutions. The company has 74 employees. BIOCORP is listed on Euronext since July 2015.

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PHARMA TECH

European Medicines Agency Accepts Astellas' Marketing Authorization Application for Fezolinetant

Astellas Pharma Inc. | September 30, 2022

Astellas Pharma Inc. announced the European Medicines Agency has accepted for regulatory review the company's marketing authorization application for fezolinetant, an investigational oral, nonhormonal compound seeking approval for the treatment of moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms associated with menopause. VMS, characterized by hot flashes and/or night sweats, are common symptoms of menopause.1,2 "More than half of women 40 to 64 years of age experience hot flashes during menopause, with limited nonhormonal treatment options. The EMA's acceptance of our MAA for fezolinetant brings us one step closer to advancing a potential first-in-class nonhormonal treatment option for women in Europe who experience VMS associated with menopause, similar to the FDA acceptance of our NDA for women in the U.S." Ahsan Arozullah, M.D., M.P.H., Senior Vice President and Head of Development Therapeutic Areas, Astellas The MAA is supported by results from the BRIGHT SKY™ program, which included three Phase 3 clinical trials that collectively enrolled over 2,800 women with VMS across Europe, the U.S. and Canada. Results from the SKYLIGHT 1™ and SKYLIGHT 2™ pivotal trials characterize the efficacy and safety of fezolinetant for the treatment of moderate to severe VMS associated with menopause. Data from the SKYLIGHT 4™ safety study further characterizes the long-term safety profile of fezolinetant. Within the MAA, Astellas proposes a 45 mg daily dose, which is subject to the EMA's review. Fezolinetant is an investigational nonhormonal selective neurokinin 3 receptor antagonist. The safety and efficacy of fezolinetant are under investigation and have not been established. This acceptance will have no impact on Astellas' financial forecasts of the current fiscal year ending March 31, 2023. About the BRIGHT SKY™ Phase 3 Program The BRIGHT SKY pivotal trials, SKYLIGHT 1™ and SKYLIGHT 2™ enrolled over 1,000 women with moderate to severe VMS. The trials are double-blinded, placebo-controlled for the first 12 weeks followed by a 40-week treatment extension period. Women were enrolled at over 180 sites within the U.S., Canada and Europe. SKYLIGHT 4™ (NCT04003389) is a 52-week double-blinded, placebo-controlled study designed to investigate the long-term safety of fezolinetant. For SKYLIGHT 4, over 1,800 women with VMS were enrolled at over 180 sites within the U.S., Canada and Europe. About VMS Associated with Menopause VMS, characterized by hot flashes and/or night sweats, are common symptoms of menopause.1,2 Worldwide, more than half of women 40 to 64 years of age experience VMS with rates in Europe ranging from 56% to 97%.3,4,5 The prevalence of moderate to severe VMS in postmenopausal women in Europe has been reported at 40%.6 VMS can have a disruptive impact on women's daily activities and overall quality of life.1 About Fezolinetant Fezolinetant is an investigational oral, nonhormonal therapy in clinical development for the treatment of moderate to severe VMS associated with menopause. Fezolinetant works by blocking neurokinin B (NKB) binding on the kisspeptin/neurokinin/dynorphin (KNDy) neuron to moderate neuronal activity in the thermoregulatory center of the brain (the hypothalamus) to reduce the frequency and severity of moderate to severe VMS associated with menopause.7,8,9 The safety and efficacy of fezolinetant are under investigation and have not been established. There is no guarantee the agent will receive regulatory approval or become commercially available for the uses being investigated. About Astellas Astellas Pharma Inc. is a pharmaceutical company conducting business in more than 70 countries around the world. We are promoting the Focus Area Approach that is designed to identify opportunities for the continuous creation of new drugs to address diseases with high unmet medical needs by focusing on Biology and Modality. Furthermore, we are also looking beyond our foundational Rx focus to create Rx+® healthcare solutions that combine our expertise and knowledge with cutting-edge technology in different fields of external partners. Through these efforts, Astellas stands on the forefront of healthcare change to turn innovative science into value for patients.

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