Pharma companies admit to sharing 'sensitive' info to keep prices high

FiercePharma | September 23, 2019

As U.S. officials press a massive case for alleged generic drug price fixing, authorities in the U.K. have unearthed an example of rivals working a little too closely with each other. King Pharmaceuticals and Alissa Healthcare Research, which both sold the antidepressant drug nortriptyline, admitted to exchanging "commercially sensitive information" in order to keep prices high. The U.K.'s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said in June it had found the companies exchanged info about prices, volumes and market entry plans for their drugs. Officials opened their investigation back in October 2017, and the allegations covered conduct between 2015 to 2017. Even as King and Alissa admitted to the violations, a third company, Lexon Limited, denied them. The investigation against Lexon is ongoing, and the authorities say they're preparing to levy penalties against the company. Meanwhile, a slate of generic drugmakers face U.S. allegations that they worked together to keep prices high. Dozens of states have sued leading generic firms, alleging they met in person and communicated digitally to share info about launch plans and divide up the market. The alleged price-fixing scheme encompassed some of the biggest generics makers in the business, including Teva Pharmaceutical and Mylan, prosecutors say.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS, PHARMACY MARKET

Phio Pharmaceuticals Announces New Clinical Program to Study PH-762 for the Treatment of Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Phio Pharmaceuticals Corp. | December 22, 2022

Phio Pharmaceuticals Corp., today announced it expects to file an IND in the US in the first half of 2023 for a Phase 1b clinical trial of its INTASYL™ compound, PH-762. Phio is a clinical stage biotechnology company whose proprietary INTASYL self-delivering RNAi technology is designed to make immune cells more effective in killing tumor cells. PH-762 has been shown to reduce the expression of PD-1, a protein that inhibits T cells' ability to kill cancer cells. When administered intratumorally in preclinical models PH-762 primes an anti-tumor immune response, and inhibits tumor growth. Phio is currently conducting a Phase 1b clinical trial of PH-762 for the treatment of advanced melanoma at the Gustave Roussy Institute, one of the largest cancer centers in Europe. Phio expects to commence a US Phase 1b clinical trial early in the 2nd half of 2023. The initial US trial is expected to focus on the treatment of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma and other selected cutaneous malignancies, following successful regulatory review of the IND. "Therapeutic interventions for cSCC are limited, and there is increasing unmet medical need. As cSCC tumors comprise approximately 51% of the total incidence of solid tumors in the US, excluding basal cell cancers, we recognize the growing need for alternative therapies for cSCC," said Robert Bitterman, Phio's Principal Executive Officer and Executive Chairman. Mr. Bitterman has over 25 years of executive leadership experience in the pharmaceutical and biologic life science industry with a proven track record in operations, finance and investor relations. "While monoclonal antibody therapies are available for the treatment of cSCC, mechanistically they only block the interaction between PD-1 and PD-L1 on the cell surface. PH-762 also has the potential to address PD-1 inside the T cell, essentially further enhancing the activity of the T cell to kill the tumor cells," said Dr. James Cardia, Phio's Vice President of Scientific Operations. Dr. Cardia led the team that discovered INTASYL. "PH-762 has the potential to meet a significant medical need in patients who have failed to respond to mAbs, as well as those with resectable and metastatic solid tumors. Phio is committed to advancing the study of PH-762 to provide a meaningful therapy for patients with a broad range of solid tumors." Dr. Mary Spellman, Phio's Medical and Clinical Development Advisor About INTASYL INTASYL compounds are chemically modified siRNAs that are designed to provide efficient, spontaneous cellular uptake and potent, long lasting intracellular activity targeting a broad range of cell types and tissues. INTASYL drugs precisely target specific proteins that reduce the body's ability to fight cancer, without the need for specialized formulations or drug delivery systems. INTASYL has demonstrated preclinical efficacy in both Direct-to-Tumor and Adoptive Cell Therapy applications. In comparison to biologics and cell and gene therapies, INTASYL has a favorable pre-clinical toxicity and safety profile, and a streamlined chemical synthesis that reduces costs and offers substantial convenience to the prescriber and patient. Phio believes that INTASYL is the only self-delivering RNA interference technology focused on immuno-oncology therapeutics. About Phio Pharmaceuticals Phio Pharmaceuticals Corp. is a clinical stage biotechnology company whose proprietary INTASYL™ RNAi technology is designed to make immune cells more effective in killing tumor cells. Phio believes that INTASYL is the only self-delivering RNAi technology focused on immuno-oncology therapeutics. INTASYL drugs precisely target specific proteins that reduce the body's ability to fight cancer, without the need for specialized formulations or drug delivery systems.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS, PHARMA TECH

Aequus Announces Health Canada Notice of Compliance (NOC) for Zimed® Preservative Free (Bimatoprost 0.03%)

Aequus Pharmaceuticals | December 21, 2022

Aequus Pharmaceuticals Inc. is pleased to announce that Health Canada has approved Zimed® PF for the reduction of elevated intraocular pressure in patients with open-angled glaucoma or ocular hypertension. Affecting more than 700,000 people in Canada, glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in North America. Zimed® PF is the first prostaglandin analog that is preservative free and offered in an easy-to-use multi-dose bottle in Canada. PGAs are commonly prescribed first-line to reduce IOP. The vast majority of medications currently available include preservatives such as Benzalkonium Chloride. Chronic exposure to BAK has been found to increase the likelihood of experiencing Ocular Surface Disease and reduce patient adherence. “We have heard from the eyecare professionals that there is a need for preservative-free alternatives. The PGA market continues to grow year-over-year and we are excited to provide a new option for Canadian health care providers and their patients.” Grant Larsen, CCO of Aequus Pharma Zimed PF is contained in a unique multi-dose bottle that leverages a unidirectional valve and air filter technology to eliminates the need for a preservatives. In addition, this packaging format significantly reduces the amount of plastic used compared to single-use alternatives. “Medicom is excited by this news and looks forward to launching Zimed® PF in the Canadian market with Aequus,” says Simon Martin, CEO of Medicom. “Globally we have seen the strong uptake for Zimed® PF and pleased it will soon be available to Canadian patients.” Doug Janzen, CEO of Aequus Pharma said, “We want to thank Medicom for their support through the approval process with Health Canada. This is our third product we’ve brought to Canada in this partnership. We look forward to launching Zimed® PF in 2023 and providing Canadians with more treatment options.” ABOUT AEQUUS PHARMACEUTICALS INC. Aequus Pharmaceuticals Inc. is a specialty pharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing high quality, differentiated products. Aequus has grown its sales and marketing efforts to include several commercial products in ophthalmology and optometry. Aequus plans to build on its Canadian commercial platform through the launch of additional products that are either created internally or brought in through an acquisition or license, remaining focused on highly specialized therapeutic areas.

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VIEWS AND ANALYSIS

Altamira Therapeutics Provides Business Update and First Half 2022 Financial Results

Altamira Therapeutics Ltd | December 01, 2022

Altamira Therapeutics Ltd. a company dedicated to developing therapeutics that address important unmet medical needs, today provided a business update and reported its first half 2022 financial results. “We continue to make good progress with the transformation of Altamira into an RNA delivery technology company. We are optimistic of reaching an agreement to divest or partner our Bentrio nasal spray for key markets in North America and Europe by year end. Last month, we agreed to divest part or all of our inner ear therapeutics programs to a European family office. Following some delay and under slightly amended terms, we expect that transaction to close in December. Thomas Meyer, Altamira Therapeutics’ founder, Chairman and CEO “Heading towards 2023, we look forward to focusing exclusively on the many emerging opportunities in the fast-growing RNA therapeutics market. We are increasingly well positioned to advance our RNA delivery technology throughout 2023.” As Altamira is going through the final stages of a major corporate transformation, management intends to hold its next investor call upon finalization of its partnering / divestiture projects. On that call, the Company will also provide its outlook for 2023. RNA delivery platform update Altamira continued to make solid progress with the development of its patented, peptide-based platform for RNA delivery to extrahepatic tissues. In recent months, the RNA team led by Chief Development Officer Covadonga Pañeda, Ph.D., and Chief Scientific Officer Samuel Wickline, MD, have advanced various projects, including selection and optimization of siRNA sequences, formulation, process development and manufacturing. Starting with project AM-401 for the treatment of KRAS-driven tumors, the Company added a second project, AM-411 for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. AM-411 nanoparticles comprise siRNA targeting NF-kB a key checkpoint in RA inflammation. The Company is developing both AM-401 and AM-411 with the objective of out-licensing the drug products at a later stage. They serve as a “showcase” for the application of Altamira’s RNA delivery technology; the Company’s strategy will be to out-license the technology to pharma and biotech companies for use with their own RNA molecules. In this context, Altamira has been intensifying its efforts to raise awareness about OligoPhore/SemaPhore within science and industry. In recent months, members of Altamira’s leadership team gave oral presentations at multiple international conferences, highlighting the ability to deliver RNA molecules to extrahepatic tissues and achieve efficient and rapid endosomal release inside target cells. Concurrently, further data on RNA delivered with Altamira’s delivery technology has been published by independent research groups in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Altamira anticipates entering into its first partnering agreements in 2023. Bentrio Update Earlier today, Altamira reported that its licensee and distribution partner Nuance Pharma has launched Bentrio nasal spray in Hong Kong to help provide protection against airborne viruses as well as allergens. This will be the first step to distributing Bentrio in the other Nuance-licensed territories which is comprised of mainland China, Macau and South Korea. As part of its strategy to focus exclusively on RNA delivery, Altamira has been in discussions with several well-established OTC consumer health companies for the partnering of Bentrio. Those discussions intensified following the 510(k) clearance of the product by the FDA and have advanced well, including due diligence by interested parties. The Company anticipates entering into a partnering transaction before year end. In the context of those partnering discussions, Altamira suspended preparations for launching the product in the US on its own as well as pausing major marketing initiatives in Europe. This restraint provides the prospective strategic partner for Bentrio with maximum flexibility to fit the product into its business plan. Beginning in early October, the Bentrio nasal spray was relaunched in Europe for allergic rhinitis. Previously, the Company had ceased marketing the product for the indication of viral infection in the EU and Switzerland although Bentrio’s mode of action is the same regardless of whether it provides a barrier against airborne virus or allergen particles. This had been demonstrated in various relevant in vitro assays. However, certain countries and regions require specifically clinical performance data to clear Bentrio for this indication, in particular related to COVID-19. Such data are expected to become available through the COVAMID trial. In September, Altamira announced that it had reached its extended enrollment target of 160 confirmed subjects in its COVAMID clinical investigation to evaluate the safety, tolerability, and efficacy of its Bentrio nasal spray in patients with acute COVID-19. The read-out of top-line data remains on track for the current quarter. The Company plans to seek an expansion of its product label to also include viral infections in those countries requiring supportive clinical data. In September, the Company also announced that its “NASAR” clinical trial in seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR) resumed enrollment as the new pollen season started in Australia. The NASAR trial is expected to enroll a total of 100 patients suffering from SAR and is designed to compare the safety and efficacy of Bentrio against a (control) saline nasal spray. The primary endpoint will be the comparison of the reflective Total Nasal Symptom Score under treatment with Bentrio against control. The NASAR trial was initiated in the fall of 2021. It was suspended in spring 2022 as the pollen season came to an end before the enrollment target could be met. Interim data from the trial were used in support of the 510(k) clearance of Bentrio by the US FDA. Unless an interim analysis performed upon reaching 50% of the enrollment target to check the validity of the statistical powering assumptions requires a change to the target size of 100 patients, the Company expects to complete enrollment into the NASAR trial by year-end or in early 2023 with a read-out of top-line data in late 1Q-23.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS, VIEWS AND ANALYSIS

Mirion Technologies to Divest Biodex Physical Medicine

Biodex Medical Systems | November 30, 2022

Mirion Technologies, Inc. announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to sell the physical medicine assets of Biodex Medical Systems, Inc. to Salona Global Medical Device Corporation for $5 million in cash at closing and up to an additional $3 million in deferred cash payments. The deferred cash payments are contingent on the performance of the assets during the 12-month period following closing. The assets generated approximately $18 million in revenue with estimated gross margins of 30% during the most recent trailing twelve-month period. “Divesting the physical medicine assets of Biodex enables Mirion Medical to focus on our strategic priorities and better aligns the group with Mirion’s mission of harnessing our unrivaled knowledge of ionizing radiation for the greater good of humanity. We are pleased to see the physical medicine business in the hands of an owner whose core mission and strategy is better aligned with investing in the future of the product line and finding valued employees the right home for their skills and contributions,” Mike Rossi, President of Mirion Medical About Mirion Mirion Technologies is a leading provider of detection, measurement, analysis and monitoring solutions to the nuclear, defense, medical and research end markets. The organization aims to harness its unrivaled knowledge of ionizing radiation for the greater good of humanity. Many of the company's end markets are characterized by the need to meet rigorous regulatory standards, design qualifications and operating requirements. Headquartered in Atlanta (GA – USA), Mirion employs around 2,800 people and operates in 13 countries. About Biodex Medical Systems Biodex Medical Systems, Inc. is part of Mirion Medical, Inc., a group of healthcare-focused brands within Mirion Technologies. Mirion Technologies, Inc. uses science and technology to drive treatment innovation across physical medicine, nuclear medicine and medical imaging categories. With a history of manufacturing and engineering excellence that spans more than 60 years, the Biodex™ mission is to provide innovative solutions and customer-driven support to medical facilities and wellness centers around the globe.

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Spotlight

We interviewed the course leader, John Faulkes, of the Educo Life Sciences on-demand e-learning course: An Introduction to the Pharmaceutical Industry: A Beginner’s Guide. We ask john to provide us with a summary of the course, who it is aimed at and how the course is taught.

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