In win for pharma, Trump TV drug price rule struck down

biopharmadive | July 09, 2019

The proposal seeks to shame biopharma companies into lowering their prices through public pressure. HHS published the rule in May, arguing that price disclosure would allow Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries to make informed decisions about their own out-of-pocket costs. It was due to go into effect today. Merck & Co., Eli Lilly and Amgen, along with the National Association of Advertisers, sued HHS, claiming violations of First Amendment free speech rights, along with challenging HHS authority to regulate price transparency in advertising. But the court ruled that Congress had given HHS no explicit authority to force drugmakers to disclose the prices of drugs in direct-to-consumer advertisements. The Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, HHS and the Food and Drug Administration can regulate the content of drug advertising to ensure that biopharma companies do not make false claims about their safety or efficacy. Pricing, however, is a matter for finance and public insurance programs, which are regulated under the Social Security Act via the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, meaning the government overstepped its authority, District Judge Amit Mehta ruled.

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FDA prioritizes drugs that are medically necessary. A medically necessary drug product is a product that is used to treat or prevent a serious disease or medical condition for which there is no alternative drug, available in adequate supply, that medical staff has determined to be an acceptable substitute. Although the agency focuses on medically necessary drugs, all potential shortages are evaluated to help determine the possible public health impact.


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Vifor Pharma drives transformation with divestment of non-core finished drug manufacturing to CordenPharma

Vifor Pharma Group | December 17, 2021

Vifor Pharma Group announced the divestment of its finished drug product manufacturing business to CordenPharma, a full-service Contract Development & Manufacturing Organization of APIs, Excipients, Drug Products, and associated Packaging services. This decision reinforces Vifor Pharma’s strategy to transform the company into a multi-brand commercial organization, focusing on its core capabilities in-licensing, partnering and commercializing products in nephrology, and to further grow and maximize opportunities of its iron portfolio. “In support of our ambitious growth strategy, optimizing our manufacturing footprint will enable us to build an even stronger, more efficient organization focusing on core capabilities in nephrology, and to maximize and leverage our market-leading expertise and intellectual property in iron deficiency. With CordenPharma, we have found the best suitable solution for our manufacturing employees and the drug production activities in Fribourg, Ettingen and Lisbon. With this agreement, Vifor Pharma is well positioned to continuously drive the company sustainably and profitably over the long term, for all our stakeholders.” Abbas Hussain, CEO of Vifor Pharma Dr. Michael Quirmbach, Chief Executive Officer & President of CordenPharma said: “The acquired Vifor Pharma sites have competent teams with great cultural fit, state-of-the art infrastructure, and a strong compliance track record. This excellent opportunity aligns well with our strategy to broaden our CDMO capabilities. By incorporating these three Vifor Pharma manufacturing facilities into our global network, we look forward to not only supplying Vifor Pharma as a manufacturing partner, but also closing gaps in our service offering for oral solid dosage drug product manufacturing and increasing our overall capacity. In addition, this acquisition further strengthens our fully-integrated solutions to our customers.” Under the terms of the signed share purchase agreement, CordenPharma acquires all shares in Vifor SA, Fribourg, and OM Pharma SA, Lisbon, thus taking over Vifor Pharma’s finished drug product manufacturing operations at the three sites. The divestment will trigger an asset impairment, to be reported with Vifor Pharma’s 2021 financial results. The companies have agreed not to disclose financial terms of the agreement. CordenPharma will integrate the new facilities into its existing CDMO network of Current Good Manufacturing Practice and R&D plants across Europe & the US, and organize the operations of the Fribourg, Ettingen and Lisbon sites under its Small Molecule Platform. It plans to utilize the existing manufacturing workforce, while continuing to produce and supply Vifor Pharma products. Vifor Pharma’s Swiss and Portuguese country commercial organizations, located in Fribourg and Lisbon, will remain with Vifor Pharma Group. Vifor Pharma and CordenPharma will jointly ensure long-term continuity of supply for customers and patients who depend on them. This divestment, including all financial implications, has been disclosed to CSL Limited in the course of the due diligence process preceding the publication of the pre-announcement of the public tender offer by CSL Limited on 14 December and in so far has no impact on such tender offer. Vifor Pharma and CordenPharma anticipate closing the transaction in Q1 2022, contingent on customary closing conditions. About Vifor Pharma Group Vifor Pharma Group is a global pharmaceuticals company. It aims to become the global leader in iron deficiency, nephrology and cardio-renal therapies. The company is a partner of choice for pharmaceuticals and innovative patient-focused solutions. Vifor Pharma Group strives to help patients around the world with severe and chronic diseases lead better, healthier lives. The company develops, manufactures and markets pharmaceutical products for precision patient care. Vifor Pharma Group holds a leading position in all its core business activities and consists of the following companies: Vifor Pharma and Vifor Fresenius Medical Care Renal Pharma. Vifor Pharma Group is headquartered in Switzerland, and listed on the Swiss Stock Exchange About CordenPharma CordenPharma, the global pharmaceutical service & manufacturing platform of International Chemical Investors Group, is a full-service partner in the Contract Development & Manufacturing of APIs, Excipients, Drug Products, and associated Packaging Services. Through a growing network of cGMP facilities across Europe and the US organized under five Technology Platforms – Peptides, Lipids & Carbohydrates, Injectables, Highly Potent & Oncology, and Small Molecules – CordenPharma experts translate complex processes and projects at any stage of development into high-value products.

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Iktos and The University of Dundee, Drug Discovery Unit (DDU) Announce a Collaboration to Use AI for Drug Design and Retrosyntheis

Iktos | December 20, 2021

Iktos, a company specialized in Artificial Intelligence for new drug design, and The Drug Discovery Unit (DDU), School of Life Sciences, The University of Dundee, focused on the discovery of therapeutics for neglected diseases and the translation of novel biology through small molecule drug discovery, announced entering a collaboration to apply Iktos’s generative modelling artificial intelligence (AI) technology in one of DDU’s drug discovery programs. Under the agreement, Iktos will apply its de novo ligand and structure-based generative modelling technologies, its AI-based retrosynthesis analysis and planning tool Spaya™, and know-how complementing DDU’s drug discovery capabilities to expedite the identification of potential pre-clinical candidates and to identify additional novel chemical matter with suitable properties. The DDU was established in 2006 to respond to a lack of drug targets identified for neglected tropical diseases being translated into therapeutics for diseases impacting the poorest people in the world. The DDU translates basic science into lead compounds to validate putative drug targets, to use as tools to investigate disease pathways and, when appropriate, advance to pre-clinical drug candidates for multiple diseases, e.g. TB and cancer. Iktos’s AI technology, based on deep generative models, helps to bring new insights and directions into the drug discovery process based on a comprehensive data-driven chemical structure generation technology. This technology automatically designs virtual novel molecules with all of the characteristics of a successful drug molecule. This approach, validated through Iktos’s other collaborations, is a novel solution to one of the key challenges in drug design: rapid identification of molecules that simultaneously satisfy multiple parameters, such as potency, selectivity, safety, and project-specific properties. This approach uniquely enables the exploration of chemical space and produces innovative molecule designs with greater freedom to operate. Iktos has recently diversified its R&D efforts into the development of an AI technology for retrosynthesis. Identifying and selecting synthetic pathways is one of the most challenging and time-consuming tasks in synthetic and medicinal chemistry. Iktos has developed AI based retrosynthesis analysis and planning tool Spaya™ by harnessing the power of data-driven retrosynthesis algorithm for systematic exploration and prioritisation of synthetic routes for a desired compound in minutes. “We are thrilled to be working with Iktos to drive our projects towards drug candidates. Iktos AI platform combined with our own in-house computational and medicinal chemistry design teams provide a powerful combination for innovative new drug design.” Professor Paul Wyatt, Head of the DDU “We are thrilled and proud to join forces with DDU with the aim to help in the discovery of therapeutics for neglected diseases and the translation of novel biology through small molecule drug discovery,” commented Yann Gaston-Mathé, President and CEO of Iktos. “Pleased to have earned DDU’s trust, we are confident that together with DDU and their established R&D partners, we will be able to identify promising novel chemical matter and solve complex multiparametric optimisation problems. The feedback from DDU’s research team will be highly valuable as we improve our product offerings. Our strategy has always been to tackle challenging problems alongside our collaborators where we can demonstrate value generation for new and on-going drug discovery projects.” About DDU The Drug Discovery Unit (DDU) (est. 2006) within the School of Life Sciences at The University of Dundee is a fully integrated, Biotech-style, drug discovery centre working across multiple disease areas. The DDU collaborates with partners to translate world-class biology research into novel drug targets and candidate drugs to address unmet medical need. About Iktos Incorporated in October 2016, Iktos is a French start-up company specialized in the development of artificial intelligence solutions applied to chemical research, more specifically medicinal chemistry and new drug design. Iktos is developing a proprietary and innovative solution based on deep learning generative models, which enables, using existing data, to design molecules that are optimized in silico to meet all the success criteria of a small molecule discovery project. The use of Iktos technology enables major productivity gains in upstream pharmaceutical R&D. Iktos offers its technology both as professional services and as a SaaS software platform, Makya™. Iktos is also developing Spaya™, a synthesis planning software based upon Iktos’s proprietary AI technology for retrosynthesis.

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Oramed Completes Patient Enrollment in Phase 2 Oral Insulin NASH Trial

Oramed Pharmaceuticals Inc. | March 17, 2022

Oramed Pharmaceuticals Inc. a clinical-stage pharmaceutical company focused on the development of oral drug delivery platforms, announced it has completed enrollment of all patients in a Phase 2 trial of its oral insulin capsule ORMD-0801 for the treatment of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. An estimated 1.5% to 6.5% of adults in the U.S., or between 4 million and 17 million people, have NASH and about half of these also have diabetes, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. The double-blind, multi-center trial with clinical sites in the U.S. and Israel is assessing the safety and potential efficacy of ORMD-0801 in Type 2 diabetes patients with NASH. Efficacy endpoints including safety and percentage change in liver fat content, liver fibrosis, and liver steatosis from baseline are measured via MRI-PDFF following 12 weeks of dosing. "There is currently no drug approved to treat this disease, leaving NASH with a serious unmet medical need. With direct action on the liver, we believe that ORMD-0801 has the potential to address over 50% of people with diabetes who also suffer from NASH, a population with unfortunately increased mortality. We look forward to analyzing and reporting topline data, which we expect will confirm our prior pilot study's efficacy and safety results," Oramed Chief Executive Officer, Nadav Kidron The global market for drugs to treat NASH is expected to reach $84 billion by 2029, according to a publication by Research and Markets on the Global Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH) Drugs Market. About NASH Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis is a serious, progressive liver disease caused by a buildup of fat in the liver and accompanied by inflammation, liver cell damage, and in some cases, scarring of the liver. Over time, NASH may progress to cirrhosis, liver cancer, liver failure, and even death. Currently, no pharmacotherapy is globally approved for the treatment of NASH, and people with NASH are left with very few treatment options. About Oramed Pharmaceuticals Oramed Pharmaceuticals is a platform technology pioneer in the field of oral delivery solutions for drugs currently delivered via injection. Established in 2006, with offices in the United States and Israel, Oramed has developed a novel Protein Oral Delivery (POD™) technology. Oramed is seeking to transform the treatment of diabetes through its proprietary lead candidate, ORMD-0801, which is being evaluated in two pivotal Phase 3 trials and has the potential to be the first commercial oral insulin capsule for the treatment of diabetes. In addition, Oramed is developing an oral GLP-1.

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Virpax Pharmaceuticals Enters Into CRADA With The U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research

Virpax® Pharmaceuticals, Inc. | May 06, 2022

Virpax® Pharmaceuticals, Inc. a company specializing in developing non-addictive products for pain management, post-traumatic stress disorder, central nervous system (CNS) disorders and anti-viral indications, today announced that it has entered into a cooperative research and development agreement with the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research to evaluate Virpax’s Probudur™, an injectable long-acting liposomal bupivacaine in a hydrogel formulation that is injected at the wound site. Probudur is being developed to significantly reduce or eliminate the need for opioids after surgery in approved indications. Probudur is a local anesthetic that binds to the sodium channel, preventing pain signals from reaching the brain. In pre-clinical trials, Probudur has shown long duration pain control for at least 96 hours. The USAISR is the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DOD) primary laboratory for developing solutions for trauma and critical care challenges in combat casualties. “We are excited to announce this CRADA with the DOD as these military and government research collaborations are an integral part of our non-dilutive funding strategy,” Anthony P. Mack, chairman and CEO of Virpax In August of 2020, Virpax entered into a CRADA with the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, an institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), for the development of Envelta™, it’s intranasal spray product candidate for severe post-cancer pain and non-cancer pain. Under that agreement, multiple contracts to support the research, development, and manufacturing of Envelta have been awarded by the NIH to continue the product’s progress. About Virpax Pharmaceuticals Virpax is developing branded product candidates for non-addictive pain management and neurological disorders using its proprietary technologies to optimize and target drug delivery. Virpax is initially seeking FDA approval of its three patented drug delivery platforms. Epoladerm™ is a topical diclofenac spray film formulation being developed to manage osteoarthritis pain. Probudur™ is a single injection long-acting liposomal bupivacaine formulation being developed to manage post-operative pain. Envelta™ is an intranasal Molecular-Envelope Technology (MET) enkephalin formulation being developed for the management of post-cancer pain and non-cancer pain, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) under the name PES200. MET technology is also used in AnQlar™, Virpax’s product candidate to inhibit viral replication caused by influenza or SARS-CoV-2. Virpax recently acquired global rights to VRP324, a product candidate for the nasal delivery of a pharmaceutical-grade cannabidiol (CBD) for the management of rare pediatric epilepsy.

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Spotlight

FDA prioritizes drugs that are medically necessary. A medically necessary drug product is a product that is used to treat or prevent a serious disease or medical condition for which there is no alternative drug, available in adequate supply, that medical staff has determined to be an acceptable substitute. Although the agency focuses on medically necessary drugs, all potential shortages are evaluated to help determine the possible public health impact.

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