GSK wins speedy FDA Zejula review in ovarian cancer niche

fiercepharma | June 24, 2019

GlaxoSmithKline has been working to restrengthen in cancer, particularly through a multibillion-dollar purchase of Tesaro. The main drug from the buyout, Zejula, is now up for a priority review in late-stage ovarian cancer, where it's working to pick up a niche nod its rivals don't have. The FDA has accepted GSK's application for the drug to treat patients with advanced ovarian, fallopian tube or primary peritoneal cancer who have had at least three prior chemo regimens. The patients must also have a BRCA mutation or homologous recombination deficiency for their cancers, and in the case of HRD cancers, must have progressed at least half a year from their last chemo treatment. The application is based on data in a trial called Quadra that found “clinically relevant activity” for the patients when treated with the drug. Investigators noted that the patients have few options, and that survival after the third line of treatment ranges from 5 months to 9 months. Now, the FDA expects to hand down a decision by October 24, and if Zejula can secure an approval, it'll be the only drug in its class of PARP inhibitors—a group that includes AstraZeneca and Merck's Lynparza as well as Clovis Oncology's Rubraca—that can tout the specific indication.  While Lynparza and Rubraca are also approved for BRCA-positive patients who have had multiple rounds of chemo, they're not cleared for those with HRD. Zejula is an oral PARP inhibitor currently approved as a maintenance treatment for women with recurrent ovarian, fallopian tube, or primary peritoneal cancer whose cancer returns. In that market, its jockeying with both Lynparza and Rubraca for positioning. Pfizer also last year won an approval for Talzenna, a fourth PARP inhibitor, to treat patients with germline BRCA-mutated HER2-negative locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer.

Spotlight

In this paper, we sought to lay out the rationale for investing in small cap biotech. There are two key drivers of stock performance of small cap biotech: clinical data and acquisitions. As clinical data must be analyzed on a case-by-case basis, we have focused our efforts in this paper on factors that will drive M&A in this space. We have also examined the forces that worked to get us to the point we are today. We have arrived at four principles that we believe frame the discussion around the future of M&A. The discussion begins by taking a deep dive into the desperation being felt by the potential acquirers.


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VIEWS AND ANALYSIS

Enteris BioPharma Publishes White Paper Examining Factors to Consider While Evaluating Oral Administration of Peptides

Enteris BioPharma | September 13, 2022

Enteris BioPharma, Inc., a biotechnology company developing innovative drug products based on its proprietary delivery technologies, and a wholly-owned subsidiary of SWK Holdings Corporation announced the publication of a new white paper in Drug Development & Delivery entitled, "Key Considerations in Oral Delivery of Peptides – Factors to Consider While Evaluating Oral Administration." The paper, authored by John Vrettos, PhD, Director of Formulation Development for Enteris BioPharma, and Kalpana Ramakrishnan, PhD, Manager of Business Development for Enteris BioPharma, explores the barriers to developing oral delivery of peptides and how pharmaceutical companies can overcome them. Oral administration of peptides offers several advantages while treating chronic conditions such as diabetes and obesity as they are less invasive and more cost effective compared to injections. "Molecule size, potency, and solubility are some of the key physicochemical properties that determine a peptide's suitability for oral delivery. The healthcare industry is in need of enabling drug delivery technologies with the capability to overcome barriers in oral delivery of peptides. Importantly, orally delivered medications may encourage patient compliance compared with more invasive approaches to administering drugs. Approximately 75% of peptides are delivered by injective routes, including subcutaneous injections which can be painful and difficult to incorporate into a daily routine." Dr. Vrettos Dr. Vrettos continued, "Enteris' Peptelligence® platform offers a 'triple-action' solution comprised of our enteric coating, protease inhibitor, and permeation enhancer. When combined, these technologies have demonstrated an ability to improve the solubility and permeation of orally delivered peptides. These properties can potentially enable oral delivery of some peptide drugs for the first time, and we are excited to share our knowledge on oral delivery of peptides through this informative whitepaper." Peptelligence is a novel formulation technology designed to enhance the oral delivery and bioavailability of selected drugs by enhancing the permeation of such compounds that are typically injected, including peptides and BCS class III and IV small molecules, and preventing their breakdown in the digestive tract. About Enteris BioPharma Enteris BioPharma, Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of SWK Holdings Corporation offering total integrated contract development and manufacturing services for innovative formulation solutions utilizing its proprietary drug delivery technologies, Peptelligence® and ProPerma®, and contract manufacturing (CMO) services using non-proprietary technologies. The company's proprietary technologies have been the subject of numerous feasibility studies and active development programs, some of which are in clinical development. Additionally, Enteris BioPharma is advancing an innovative internal product pipeline of drug products that address significant unmet clinical needs for which there is no satisfactory treatment option.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS

Prime Medicine Expands Leadership Team with Key Appointments to Support Continued Growth and Advancement of Prime Editing Technology and Portfolio

Prime Medicine | July 29, 2022

Prime Medicine, Inc. a biotechnology company committed to delivering a new class of differentiated one-time curative genetic therapies, Prime Editors, to address the widest spectrum of diseases by deploying Prime Editing technology “Prime Medicine is advancing a first-of-its-kind technology intended to expand the number of patients who may benefit from genetic medicines. We are thrilled to welcome Richard, Niamh and Fubao to the team. Together, they bring strong business acumen, extensive clinical and regulatory experience and leadership of successful teams that position us well to achieve our mission. These esteemed leaders have deep expertise across their respective focus areas, each of which is key to the advancement of our novel Prime Editing technology.” Keith Gottesdiener, M.D., Chief Executive Officer of Prime Medicine Richard Brudnick, Chief Business Officer, brings extensive industry experience, including leading successful business development transactions, across multiple stages of development and an array of therapeutic areas. Mr. Brudnick was previously Chief Business Officer and Head of Strategy at Codiak BioSciences and, before that, was Executive Vice President of Business Development and Alliance Management at Bioverativ, Inc., a company he helped found in 2016. Mr. Brudnick joined Bioverativ at the time of its spinoff from Biogen where, over the course of nearly 15 years, he initiated, led and completed numerous transactions, including for several of the company's marketed products and late-stage pipeline, including Tecfidera, Spinraza and its biosimilars joint venture with Samsung. Previously, Mr. Brudnick was the Chief Executive Officer of a regional pharmaceutical distribution business that he sold to a strategic buyer, co-founded two companies, and was a strategy consultant at Bain & Company. Mr. Brudnick earned his undergraduate degree in management science from MIT and his M.S. in management from the Sloan School of Management at MIT. Niamh Alix, Chief Human Resources (HR) Officer, is a human resources leader who brings nearly 20 years of experience helping to grow teams from small, early-stage organizations to global enterprises. She joins Prime from Orchard Therapeutics, where she was Vice President, Global Talent and HR Business Partner. Prior to that, Ms. Alix held multiple global and regional roles at Lonza, including HR Business Partner for Americas, Mexico, and Canada where she led the HR team and people strategy for a 5,000+ employee population across corporate and manufacturing clients, and across multiple scientific platforms including cell and gene therapy. Prior to that, she held senior HR roles of increasing responsibility at Novartis and Bristol Myers Squibb. She holds a master’s degree in HR strategies from Dublin City University and a B.Sc. in management from the Technological University of Dublin. Fubao Wang, Ph.D., SVP, Head of Regulatory, has substantial experience leading product development of genomic medicine products, as well as regulatory strategies and execution for both clinical and commercial-stage products. Before Prime, Dr. Wang served as Senior Vice President, Head of Regulatory Affairs at Asklepios BioPharmaceutical where he built and led the regulatory team to support the development of clinical-stage AAV-based gene therapy products. Earlier, he was Vice President, Head of Regulatory CMC at Sarepta Therapeutics, where he supported the development of AAV gene therapy and RNA products, including the FDA approvals of Vyondys and Amondys. He also served as Associate Vice President, U.S. Site Head, CMC Dossiers at Sanofi to support the BLA approval of Dupixent, a monoclonal antibody product. Prior to that, he held a 16-year tenure at Merck serving in research, development and regulatory roles of increasing responsibility, most recently as director, global and emerging markets regulatory affairs, led and contributed to the discovery and development of a variety of vaccine and biologics products. Dr. Wang holds a Ph.D. in molecular biology from Heidelberg University and completed his postdoctoral work in molecular biology at Stanford University. About Prime Medicine Prime Medicine, Inc. is a biotechnology company committed to delivering a new class of differentiated, one-time, curative genetic therapies to address the widest spectrum of diseases. The company is deploying Prime Editing technology, a versatile, precise, efficient and broad gene editing technology, which is designed to make only the right edit at the right position within a gene. With the theoretical potential to repair approximately 90 percent of known disease-causing genetic mutations across many organs and cell types, medicines based on Prime Editing, if approved, could offer a one-time curative genetic therapeutic option to a broad set of patients.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS

Love Pharmas Investment in US Biotech Offers Strategic Industry Advantages and Enhanced Shareholder Value

LOVE Pharma | September 09, 2022

Love Pharma Inc. an international mental health and sexual wellness company, remains extremely active in shaping itself into a real competitor in the biotech/pharmaceutical space. The company’s growth and development plan took a major leap forward this week with the announcement that Love Pharma is establishing a “strategic alliance” with Starton Therapeutics a leading clinical-stage biotechnology company in the United States. It’s a relationship that finds Starton ideally aligned with Love Pharma’s mission of improving “quality of life” for its customers. And the benefit to Love Pharma is that Starton is well on its way to transforming standard of care therapies with its proprietary dermal drug delivery technology that allows cancer patients to receive continuous treatment so they can live better, longer. Love Pharma’s investment in Starton Therapeutics is primarily based upon “the company’s interest in innovative drug delivery technology, such as transdermal patches that can reduce side effects, transforming patient outcomes with established, approved medicines allowing for streamlined market entry with long-term IP protections.” A partnership with Starton offers a host of advantages to Love Pharma and its shareholders, including a wealth of experience from industry leaders, proven clinical trials using its proprietary technology, and a “continuous drug delivery” platform that Love Pharma could exploit in the development of its own clinical portfolio—especially in the “addiction” space. The company’s strategic investment certainly makes a lot of sense for the future of this young global brand. “This investment provides our shareholders with exposure to a rapidly developing therapeutics business, which just reported positive data from a phase 1 clinical trial evaluating the pharmacokinetics and safety of the company’s continuous delivery lenalidomide program. Starton is also entering a phase 2 trial, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has already cleared an Investigational New Drug application for STAR-OLZ in Chemotherapy Induced Nausea and Vomiting (CINV). Love Pharma’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Zachary Stadnyk, said of the relationship “With this investment in Starton, we are building our relationship, forming an alliance, and look to Starton’s expert management team to reduce risk in our own portfolio of clinical pursuits and focus more on the addiction space.” So, what made Starton Therapeutics an attractive investment now? Well, earlier this year, Love Pharma partnered with researchers at Johns Hopkins University. This research initiative aligns with key principles in Love Pharma’s strategy as it aims to develop innovative products that establish new consumer applications based upon science and efficacy. And to further its meticulous plan, the company likely sees a much smoother path forward by expanding its development strategy to include guidance from a vast selection of industry and clinical experts and a highly de-risked avenue into the clinic by way of this strategic alliance with Starton. It's no secret that Love Pharma wants to develop its own clinical portfolio, and specifically, has its eye on developing therapeutic treatments for addiction. Pharmaceutical applications for addiction and recovery treatment are an unmet need and represent a growing market, including in the cannabis space where the Johns Hopkins research initiative is focused. With Starton’s mission of delivering meaningful patient outcomes by leveraging the untapped potential of continuous delivery and dermal technology, it’s obvious that Love Pharma sees this platform technology and its endless opportunities for expansion, as an ideal platform on which it can develop its own therapeutic treatment(s) for addiction. The benefit to partnering with Starton and having access to its platform technology is that the “proof of concept” is complete, and the technology has proven it can address unmet medical needs using already FDA-approved drugs to transform patient outcomes. For Love Pharma and its shareholders, this means much of the hard work is already done. Starton’s proprietary continuous delivery technology can increase efficacy of approved drugs, make them more tolerable, and expand their potential use. Starton uses three different delivery technologies to provide continuous, low-dose delivery as part of its strategic platform that provides a controlled, sustained release over multiple days. Starton uses proven transdermal and subcutaneous technologies to transform approved medicines–establishing superiority or new indications. It is the potential to establish a new indication/use for already approved drugs using the delivery technology, namely in the addiction space that is enticing to Love Pharma. And Love Pharma isn’t stopping there. The company announced that “to further accelerate its planned strategic alliance with Starton, and to bolster the company’s own biotech initiatives in the area, Love Pharma is in discussions with TRPL Laboratory, the lab that develops and supports Starton’s transdermal drug delivery programs and is a global leader in transdermal delivery systems.” Investors in Love Pharma couldn’t ask for a better way to reduce the risk associated with the company developing its own clinical portfolio than by surrounding itself with a plethora of industry and clinical leaders. That expertise begins with Pedro Lichtinger, the CEO and Chairman of the Board at Starton. Lichtinger has spent almost 40-years in the biotechnology arena, including 16 years at Pfizer as President of Global Primary Care and as Pfizer’s President of Europe. Additionally, Love Pharma can draw from the experiences of the former Global Lead, Multiple Myeloma at Celgene, world-renowned scientific leaders in their field leading each program at Dana Farber/Harvard, Mayo Clinic, and Moffitt Cancer Center, and a breadth of operational expertise in regulatory, clinical development, manufacturing, and intellectual property. The company stated that it is currently identifying and assessing disruptive opportunities within the transdermal biotechnology field, which it believes can be a superior delivery system in many cases for new and existing pharmaceutical therapeutic drugs. With its initial investment in Starton, the company believes it can leverage their expertise and proven success to credibly evaluate potential acquisitions in the transdermal field of advanced drug delivery systems. This news should be seen as extremely encouraging by the company’s investors as it could dramatically accelerate Love Pharma’s path to the clinic and the development of its own clinical portfolio. After all, it is these relationships in the biopharma industry that can lead to promising results and real shareholder value. About Love Pharma Inc. With a focus on the global sexual Health and Wellness markets, Love Pharma Inc. was founded in 2020, with a mission to bring to market innovative products that enhance sexual health and wellness while providing an improved quality of life. Love Pharma holds exclusive licenses to produce, market, package, sell, and distribute patent-protected therapeutic and pharmaceutical products throughout Europe, the United Kingdom, and North America. About Starton Therapeutics A clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on transforming standard of care therapies with proprietary dermal technology, so people with cancer can receive continuous treatment to live better, longer. Starton’s proprietary transdermal technology is intended to increase efficacy of approved drugs, to make them more tolerable and expand their potential use. About Stock Market Media Group Stock Market Media Group is a News and Media content development IR firm offering a platform for corporate stories to unfold in the media with press releases, feature news articles, research reports, corporate videos, and radio-style CEO interviews.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS

Akorn Announces FDA-approved Generic Cetrorelix Acetate for Injection 0.25 mg

Akorn Pharmaceuticals | August 17, 2022

Akorn Operating Company LLC, a specialty pharmaceutical company, announces that it received FDA approval for a generic version of Cetrorelix Acetate for Injection, 0.25 mg. This is the first approved AP-Rated bioequivalent version of Merck Serono's Cetrotide®.1 "We are pleased to announce the first approved AP-rated generic option for women receiving fertility treatments. As an increasing number of infants are being conceived via the use of ART, Akorn is excited to be able to offer a competitively priced option to support women who undergo this series of treatments. This is a welcome addition to our portfolio of more than 200 specialty and injectable generics." Akorn President and CEO Douglas Boothe Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) is defined as fertility treatments where eggs or embryos are handled for the purpose of establishing a pregnancy. 2 The FDA granted Akorn a Competitive Generic Therapy (CGT) designation for Cetrorelix, a designation intended to incentivize effective development, efficient review, and timely market entry of drugs for which there is inadequate generic competition. As the first approved applicant with the CGT designation, Akorn's Cetrorelix is eligible for 180 days of CGT market exclusivity, which will begin to run from the commercial launch of Cetrorelix. According to IQVIA, U.S. sales of Cetrorelix through June of 2022 were approximately $63 million with full year U.S. sales projection of approximately $127 million. About Cetrorelix Acetate for Injection 0.25 mg Cetrorelix is used to prevent premature ovulation during controlled ovarian stimulation. Cetrorelix blocks the effects of a natural hormone, called gonadotropin‐releasing hormone (GnRH). GnRH controls the secretion of another hormone, called luteinizing hormone (LH), which induces ovulation during the menstrual cycle. During hormone treatment for ovarian stimulation, premature ovulation may lead to eggs that are not suitable for fertilization. Cetrorelix Acetate for Injection blocks such undesirable premature ovulation. About Akorn Akorn Operating Company LLC, develops, manufactures and markets specialty pharmaceuticals. Since 1971, as an industry leader in generic products in alternate dosage forms such as ophthalmics, injectables, oral liquids, otics, topicals, inhalants and nasal sprays, we focus each day on our mission to improve lives, through the quality, availability and affordability of our products.

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Spotlight

In this paper, we sought to lay out the rationale for investing in small cap biotech. There are two key drivers of stock performance of small cap biotech: clinical data and acquisitions. As clinical data must be analyzed on a case-by-case basis, we have focused our efforts in this paper on factors that will drive M&A in this space. We have also examined the forces that worked to get us to the point we are today. We have arrived at four principles that we believe frame the discussion around the future of M&A. The discussion begins by taking a deep dive into the desperation being felt by the potential acquirers.

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