Pharma spends big as Massachusetts lawmakers review drug-pricing bills

FiercePharma | April 01, 2019

State legislators in Massachusetts are preparing to review a slew of bills aimed at state-level drug pricing, and the pharmaceutical industry is opening its checkbook to fight back. The state’s Joint Committee on Health Care Financing on April 11 will examine 21 bills targeting price transparency and affordability for patients. State Sen. Cindy Friedman, the committee chair, told the Boston Herald that lawmakers will take a hard look at measures to open up drugmakers' pricing secrets and lower sticker prices for patients. “Drugs are a huge contributor to health care costs, and it’s becoming, as many other parts of health care, more and more of a crisis in terms of people’s ability to pay for their health care,” Friedman said. But pharmaceutical companies aren’t taking that challenge sitting down. In 2018, drugmakers spent more than $4 million lobbying the Massachusetts statehouse, the Herald reported. One of the biggest players in the lobbying effort, the Pharmaceutical Research Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), told FiercePharma that the state’s push to cap prices would keep patients from getting the drugs they need. “We oppose government price-setting proposals in the states,” spokeswoman Priscilla VanderVeer said. “Government price controls limit access to medicines for patients and they stifle new innovation.”

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Chronic immune activation and elevated numbers of circulating activated monocytes (CD16) are implicated in HIV-associated neuroinflammation. The objective was to compare the level of circulating CD16 monocytes and IFN-γ-inducible protein 10 (IP-10) between HIV-infected cannabis users (HIV+MJ+) and noncannabis users (HIV+MJ-) and determine whether in-vitro Δ-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a constituent of cannabis, affected CD16 expression as well as IP-10 production by monocytes.

Spotlight

Chronic immune activation and elevated numbers of circulating activated monocytes (CD16) are implicated in HIV-associated neuroinflammation. The objective was to compare the level of circulating CD16 monocytes and IFN-γ-inducible protein 10 (IP-10) between HIV-infected cannabis users (HIV+MJ+) and noncannabis users (HIV+MJ-) and determine whether in-vitro Δ-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a constituent of cannabis, affected CD16 expression as well as IP-10 production by monocytes.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS

Fusion Pharmaceuticals and Niowave Announce Actinium-225 Collaboration and Supply Agreement

Fusion Pharmaceuticals Inc. | June 13, 2022

Fusion Pharmaceuticals Inc. a clinical-stage oncology company focused on developing next-generation radio pharmaceuticals as precision medicines, and Niowave, Inc., a manufacturer of medical radioisotopes from radium and uranium, today announced that the companies have entered into a collaboration and supply agreement for the development, production, and supply of actinium-225. Under the agreement, Fusion will invest up to $5 million in Niowave to further develop their technology to increase current production capacity of actinium-225, and in return Fusion will have guaranteed access to a pre-determined percentage of Niowave's capacity of the resulting actinium-225, as well as preferred access to any excess supply produced. As part of the agreement, Fusion will also have an option to invest in future production of actinium-225 to scale with Fusion's needs. "As excitement for the tumor-killing potential of alpha-emitting radio pharmaceuticals increases, we intend to stay at the forefront of actinium development and supply to support our growing pipeline of targeted alpha therapies. We continue to prioritize manufacturing and access to actinium as a critical component of Fusion's platform, and our partnership with Niowave further strengthens and diversifies our supply chain as we advance multiple actinium-based radio pharmaceuticals in the clinic." Fusion Chief Executive Officer John Valliant, Ph.D "The Niowave team has worked hard to scale up our actinium-225 production to the millicurie level and this has allowed us to start working with oncology community partners," said Niowave Chief Executive Officer/Senior Scientist Terry Grimm, Ph.D. "We have been watching Fusion's progress in the development of their pipeline of targeted alpha therapies and we are very excited to partner with them on this journey." Fusion is developing actinium-based TATs leveraging the potency and precision offered by alpha particles. Actinium-225 decay gives off four alpha emissions in relatively rapid succession, maximizing the damage to the DNA of tumor cells, with a 10-day half life that allows for central manufacturing and distribution of products to clinical sites in a ready-to-use form. About Fusion Fusion Pharmaceuticals is a clinical-stage oncology company focused on developing next-generation radiopharmaceuticals as precision medicines. Fusion connects alpha particle emitting isotopes to various targeting molecules in order to selectively deliver the alpha emitting payloads to tumors. Fusion's lead program, FPI-1434 targeting insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor, is currently in a Phase 1 clinical trial. The pipeline includes FPI-1966, targeting the fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 (FGFR3), advancing to a Phase 1 study following the investigational new drug (IND) clearance; and FPI-2059, a small molecule targeting neurotensin receptor 1 (NTSR1). In addition to a robust proprietary pipeline, Fusion has a collaboration with AstraZeneca to jointly develop novel targeted alpha therapies (TATs) and combination programs between Fusion's TATs and AstraZeneca's DNA Damage Repair Inhibitors (DDRis) and immuno-oncology agents. Fusion has also entered into a collaboration with Merck to evaluate FPI-1434 in combination with Merck's KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) in patients with solid tumors expressing IGF-1R. Fusion and Hamilton, Ontario-based McMaster University are building a current Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) compliant radiopharmaceutical manufacturing facility designed to support manufacturing of the Company's growing pipeline of TATs. About Niowave Niowave manufactures radioisotopes to cure cancer and save lives. Niowave builds and operates superconducting electron linear accelerators and is using that expertise to produce various radioisotopes for nuclear medicine. Niowave is a Cooperative Agreement partner with the National Nuclear Security Administration to develop a domestic supply of molybdenum-99 and currently produces yttrium-90 for use in cancer therapy. Niowave is licensed by the NRC to manufacture radioisotopes from uranium and radium and has partnerships with several universities and national laboratories focused on production and purification of radioisotopes for use in cancer therapy. By using radium targets and electron beams, Niowave is able to produce ultra pure and carrier-free actinium-225. Niowave's R&D facility is currently supplying actinium-225 samples to partners. Production-scale operations are ramping up at a second, FDA-compliant facility capable of meeting the growing actinium-225 market.

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PHARMA TECH

Armata Pharmaceuticals Announces Clearance of IND for Prosthetic Joint Infections

Armata Pharmaceuticals, Inc | August 02, 2022

Armata Pharmaceuticals, Inc. a biotechnology company focused on pathogen-specific bacteriophage therapeutics for antibiotic-resistant and difficult-to-treat bacterial infections, today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cleared Armata's Investigational New Drug application for AP-SA02 in prosthetic joint infection. The company is initiating start-up activities for the Phase 1b/2a trial that will explore the safety, tolerability, and pharmacokinetics of intravenous and intra-articular doses of AP-SA02 as an adjunct to standard of care antibiotics in subjects with PJI. "Prosthetic joint infection is one of the most serious complications of prosthetic joint implantation. Staphylococcus aureus is a dominant pathogen that drives the need for surgical intervention and prolonged courses of antibiotic therapy. The ability of S. aureus to create biofilms that are refractory to standard of care antibiotics highlights the need for a novel therapy. Phage therapy may fill this need for PJI patients as phage have demonstrated the ability to disrupt biofilm and work synergistically with antibiotics." Dr. Mina Pastagia, Armata's Senior Vice President of Clinical Development "Armata is excited to explore AP-PA02 in patients who suffer from complicated joint infections that don't respond adequately to standard of care antibiotics. PJI is a logical extension of our diSArm trial which is targeting complicated S. aureus bacteremia," said Brian Varnum, Chief Executive Officer of Armata. "With this IND approval, Armata now has four active clinical programs. Today marks an important development milestone for Armata and its investors who set a course three years ago to transform phage therapy from a promising new technology to one that is explored in rigorous clinical settings." In addition to evaluating AP-SA02 in PJI and bacteremia due to S. aureus, Armata has advanced AP-PA02 into the Phase 2a component of the SWARM-P.a. study which targets chronic Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections in people with cystic fibrosis (CF). In February, the company gained IND clearance for AP-PA02 in a second indication, non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis targeting patients with chronic P. aeruginosa infections in a Phase 2 trial. About Armata Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Armata is a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on the development of precisely targeted bacteriophage therapeutics for the treatment of antibiotic-resistant and difficult-to-treat bacterial infections using its proprietary bacteriophage-based technology. Armata is developing and advancing a broad pipeline of natural and synthetic phage candidates, including clinical candidates for Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, and other pathogens. In addition, in collaboration with Merck, known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, Armata is developing proprietary synthetic phage candidates to target an undisclosed infectious disease agent. Armata is committed to advancing phage with drug development expertise that spans bench to clinic including in-house phage specific GMP manufacturing.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS

EditForce and Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Enter into License Agreement

EditForce, Inc. | July 06, 2022

EditForce, Inc. has entered into a License Agreement with Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation to research, develop and commercialize potential gene therapy products for a specific target disease in the field of CNS by utilizing EditForce's proprietary PPR protein platform technology. In this alliance, MTPC and EditForce aim to create potential novel pharmaceuticals for the specific CNS disease by utilizing the drug R&D know-how and global business experience of MTPC and the novel biotechnology of EditForce. MTPC will acquire the exclusive right to conduct the selection of drug candidate molecules, preclinical and clinical development, manufacturing, and commercialization worldwide. Under the terms of the Agreement, EditForce will receive an upfront payment and milestone payments amounting to over 20 billion yen depending on the development stage and commercialization progress, and royalties based on worldwide sales after the launch. "I am so delighted to reach the agreement with MTPC, which has an interest in our proprietary PPR protein platform technology. We look forward to working closely with MTPC to develop and deliver breakthrough pharmaceutical products with our technology to patients suffering from diseases." Takashi Ono, President and CEO of EditForce About EditForce, Inc. EditForce, Inc., a Kyushu University-originated venture company developing a unique DNA/RNA editing technology (PPR platform technology (*)), was established in May 2015 by KISCO Ltd. and Prof. Takahiro Nakamura of Kyushu University (former president of EditForce and currently its scientific advisor) and funded by companies and funds that have track records of investing in life sciences and biotechnology. EditForce aims for drug discovery that applies the PPR technology through joint research with universities and private companies. Pentatricopeptide repeat protein platform technology PPR is a protein discovered in plants that regulates gene expression by binding to DNA and RNA in a sequence-specific manner. The PPR proteins are also found in humans and yeasts, and they have similar functions. Prof. Takahiro Nakamura and Dr. Yusuke Yagi, CTO of EditForce, have focused on the PPR proteins and elucidated the mechanism that determines sequence specificity, and established a technology for creating various PPR proteins, each of which binds to a specific target DNA or RNA sequence. Furthermore, it is possible to manipulate and modify the target genome and RNA both inside and outside the cell by fusion with effector proteins. About Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation the pharma arm of Mitsubishi Chemical Group is one of the oldest pharmaceutical companies in the world, founded in 1678, and focusing on ethical pharmaceuticals. MTPC is headquartered in Doshomachi, Osaka, the birthplace of Japan's pharmaceutical industry. MCG has positioned health care as its strategic focus in its management policy, "Forging the future." MTPC sets the MISSION of "Creating hope for all facing illness." To that end, MTPC is prioritizing work on "precision medicine" to provide drugs with high treatment satisfaction by identifying patient populations with high potential for efficacy and safety, focusing on the disease areas of the central nervous system and immuno-inflammation. In addition, MTPC is working to develop "around the pill solutions" to address specific patient concerns based on therapeutic medicine, including prevention of diseases, pre-symptomatic disease care, prevention of aggravation and prognosis.

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