VIEWS AND ANALYSIS
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 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.
Aquestive Therapeutics, Inc. | August 31, 2022
Aquestive Therapeutics, Inc. a pharmaceutical company advancing medicines to solve patients' problems with current standards of care and provide transformative products to improve their lives, announced today that the U.S. Food & Drug Administration has granted tentative approval for Libervant™ Buccal Film for the acute treatment of intermittent, stereotypic episodes of frequent seizure activity that are distinct from a patient’s usual seizure pattern in patients with epilepsy 12 years of age and older.
"Tentative approval" means the FDA has concluded that Libervant has met all required quality, safety, and efficacy standards for approval but, due to an existing FDA regulatory grant of orphan drug market exclusivity for Valtoco®, a diazepam nasal spray product, Libervant is not yet eligible for marketing in the United States. As a result of the FDA determination, the Agency cannot give final approval for Libervant until the expiration or inapplicability of the orphan drug market exclusivity, including, for example, by court order, a selective waiver of the orphan drug exclusivity, or a reversal of the FDA’s decision and determination that Libervant is “clinically superior” to Valtoco.
“The FDA’s decision provides welcome clarity to our business. The tentative approval of Libervant is a significant achievement that brings us one step closer to bringing this important medicine to patients who are unable or choose not to use the current standards of care. Libervant has the potential to offer these patients a treatment option that is simple, portable, and precise. A significant unmet need exists for additional alternate delivery options given the ongoing shortage of diazepam rectal gel, which continues to represent a substantial portion of the current diazepam rescue market. This FDA action further validates our ability to gain FDA approval of our pipeline programs. We look forward to continuing the rapid progression of AQST-109 for the treatment of severe allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, towards a filing with the FDA.”
Daniel Barber, Chief Executive Officer of Aquestive
“We continue to examine the FDA’s determination on Libervant market access and plan to request a meeting with the Agency as soon as possible. We disagree with the FDA’s determination on the various points presented by the Agency and believe that, particularly in the case of our submitted studies on the effect of food on the absorption of diazepam formulations, Libervant has the distinct advantage of being able to be readily administered when needed without regard to food, providing an important benefit to patients. This is important to patients as rapid and extensive drug absorption is critical in a rescue situation. We will continue to vigorously engage with the FDA on the need for these data to be carefully considered.”
During the review process, the Company submitted to the FDA the results of a 2021 Aquestive sponsored randomized, open-label, two-sequence, two-period, two-treatment crossover study to evaluate the effect of food on the pharmacokinetics of Valtoco in healthy adult subjects. The results of this study indicated that, when Valtoco is administered after a high fat meal, the maximum drug concentration (Cmax) was reduced by 48% compared to Valtoco administered to subjects in a fasted state. The study also showed that the time to maximum drug concentration (Tmax) of Valtoco doubled from 2 hours to 4 hours when administered after a high fat meal. Aquestive provided the data along with a cross-study comparison to a similar study performed with Libervant, to FDA during the review process.
The FDA’s decision concluded that the information Aquestive submitted was not sufficient to overturn the Agency's previous conclusion regarding the lack of food effect for Valtoco. Specifically, the FDA stated that “[a] cross-study comparison is not considered [by the reviewer] to be a suitable approach for making a quantitative comparison of plasma concentrations between different products because of the lack of a common reference standard between the two studies.” Aquestive will seek to gain alignment with the Agency on a reasonable path to appropriately characterize the food effect of Valtoco including potentially conducting a comparative study as indicated by the FDA.
Libervant™ is a buccally, or inside of the cheek, administered film formulation of diazepam, a benzodiazepine intended for the acute treatment of intermittent, stereotypic episodes of frequent seizure activity that are distinct from a patient’s usual seizure pattern in patients with epilepsy 12 years of age and older. Aquestive developed Libervant as an alternative to the device-based products currently available for patients with refractory epilepsy, including a rectal gel and nasal spray products. Approximately 1.0 million patients with epilepsy suffer from uncontrolled refractory seizures, approximately 85% of whom will not interact with the available treatments.
About Aquestive Therapeutics
Aquestive Therapeutics, Inc. is a pharmaceutical company advancing medicines to solve patients’ problems with current standards of care and provide transformative products to improve their lives. We are developing orally administered products to deliver complex molecules, providing novel alternatives to invasive and inconvenient standard of care therapies. Aquestive has five commercialized products on the U.S. market, four licensed products and one stand-alone proprietary product to date, Sympazan® (clobazam) oral film for the treatment of seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Our licensees market their products in the U.S. and around the world. The Company also collaborates with pharmaceutical companies to bring new molecules to market using proprietary, best-in-class technologies, like PharmFilm®, and has proven drug development and commercialization capabilities. Aquestive is advancing a late-stage proprietary product pipeline focused on treating diseases of the central nervous system, or CNS, and an earlier stage pipeline for the treatment of severe allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis.
Everest Medicines | September 19, 2022
Everest Medicines a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing transformative pharmaceutical products to address critical unmet needs in Asia Pacific markets, announced that it has appointed Rogers Yongqing Luo as Chief Executive Officer of the Company, effective immediately. Mr. Luo will also serve as an Executive Director on Everest's Board of Directors.
Mr. Luo brings to Everest more than 25 years of experience in the healthcare industry with an extensive leadership track record across clinical development, regulatory affairs and commercialization. Previously, Mr. Luo served as President and General Manager, Greater China at Brii Biosciences and CEO of TSB Therapeutics where he spearheaded the rapid registration approval, GMP certification and successful commercialization of the amubarvimab/romlusevimab combination, the first COVID-19 neutralizing antibody treatment in China. Prior to that, he was Global Vice President and China General Manager at Gilead Sciences where he led the clinical development, regulatory approval and successful commercial launch of eight innovative therapeutics, and efforts that rapidly expanded patient access across China. Mr. Luo previously oversaw the successful launch of several high-profile medicines. He managed sales, marketing, government affairs and market access functions for various leading multinational pharmaceutical companies including Roche and Novartis, and worked two years at Novartis headquarter in Switzerland.
"As Everest Medicines continues to evolve our business strategy and expand our novel product pipeline at a rapid pace, we are thrilled to have Rogers join the Company to lead Everest through its next phase of growth in becoming a fully-integrated biopharma company in China. With his robust background as a top executive at both biotech startup and large multinational pharma companies, Rogers brings to Everest a unique set of expertise including comprehensive scientific insight, proven outstanding leadership and excellent commercialization capabilities in patient access, and a demonstrated history of successfully advancing early- and late-stage innovative pipeline to commercial launch in Greater China. In particular, Rogers' leadership will strengthen Everest's new product development and commercial capabilities as we progress toward potential approvals of our late-stage anchor product candidates, including Nefecon, Xerava, etrasimod and mRNA vaccines. We look forward to leveraging Rogers' leadership and industry expertise to generate long-term growth and success across the business."
Mr. Wei Fu, Chairman of Everest Medicines and Chief Executive Officer of CBC Group
"I'm very excited to join Everest and I look forward to working with this talented, world-class team of scientists and industry professionals to further the Company's industry leadership. We will continue to advance our late-stage pipeline towards commercialization and with our strong balance sheet, we aim to execute synergistic business development deals to accelerate our path to become an integrated biopharma," said Rogers Yongqing Luo, Chief Executive Officer of Everest Medicines. "We will continue to invest into our discovery platform to build an innovative therapeutic pipeline for the benefit of patients with unmet needs in Greater China and other Asia Pacific markets, and to create sustained, long-term value for our shareholders."
About Everest Medicines
Everest Medicines is a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing transformative pharmaceutical products that address critical unmet medical needs for patients in Asian markets. The management team of Everest Medicines has deep expertise and an extensive track record of high-quality clinical development, regulatory affairs, CMC, business development and operations both in China and with leading global pharmaceutical companies. Everest Medicines has built a portfolio of potentially global first-in-class or best-in-class molecules, many of which are in late-stage clinical development. The Company's therapeutic areas of interest include oncology, autoimmune disorders, cardio-renal diseases and infectious diseases.
Inversago Pharma Inc. | October 18, 2022
Inversago Pharma Inc. a clinical stage biotech company with a unique portfolio of peripherally-acting CB1 inverse agonists, announced the completion of a Series C funding of $95 million CAD led by New Enterprise Associates. Additional new investors Forbion’s Growth Opportunities Fund and Amgen Ventures joined current investors including Forbion’s Ventures Fund IV Fonds de solidarité FTQ, Genesys Capital, AmorChem, JDRF T1D Fund and adMare BioInnovations in the financing round.
Proceeds from the Series C financing will be used to move Inversago’s lead program, INV-202, into a Phase 2 clinical trial in Diabetic Kidney Disease in Q4 2022. This follows the previously announced IND clearance from the FDA and the upcoming promising Phase 1b topline results in subjects with metabolic syndrome. Additionally, the funds will accelerate the Company’s other key programs currently in pre-clinical development, while establishing its leadership in the field of CB1 blockers.
“We are privileged to have the support and commitment of such an impressive investor syndicate at this critical stage of the Company’s development. This new round of financing is a strong endorsement of the whole Inversago team, who have carried the vision to leverage the potential of the CB1 blockade in developing potent treatments for a growing number of patients suffering from metabolic conditions, such as Diabetic Kidney Diseases and other diabetes-related conditions”.
François Ravenelle, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of Inversago Pharma
Commenting on the investment, Ed Mathers, General Partner at NEA, said: “Inversago has demonstrated that peripherally-acting CB1 blockers have an untapped potential to create a new class of target therapies that serve diabetic patient populations. Today’s financing reflects our shared vision and collaboration with the Company’s management as they initiate a Phase 2 clinical trial with INV-202”.
Nanna Lüneborg, General Partner at Forbion Growth, added: “We are delighted to join this Series C financing of Inversago, and support the Company to develop a pipeline of new therapies which promise to make a profound impact on the lives of patients with cardiometabolic diseases. We have been impressed by the terrific progress of Inversago since Forbion led the Company’s Series B round two years ago and are excited to further support the Company from both Forbion Growth and Forbion Ventures”.
New Enterprise Associates, Inc. is a global venture capital firm focused on helping entrepreneurs build transformational businesses across multiple stages, sectors and geographies. With nearly $24 billion in cumulative committed capital since the firm's founding in 1977, NEA invests in technology and healthcare companies at all stages in a company's lifecycle, from seed stage through IPO. The firm's track record of investing includes more than 260 portfolio company IPOs and more than 440 mergers and acquisitions.
Forbion is a dedicated life sciences venture capital firm with offices in The Netherlands, Germany and Singapore. Forbion invests in life sciences companies that are active in the (bio-) pharmaceutical space. Forbion manages well over EUR 2 billion across multiple fund strategies that cover all stages of pharmaceutical drug development. Forbion’s current team consists of over 30 life sciences investment professionals that have built an impressive performance track record since the late nineties with investments in 92 companies. Besides financial objectives, Forbion selects investments that will positively affect the health and well-being of patients. The firm is a signatory to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment. Forbion operates a joint venture with BGV, the manager of seed and early-stage funds, especially focused on Benelux and Germany.
About Amgen Ventures
Amgen Ventures is Amgen's corporate venture capital fund, dedicated to investing in emerging companies and technologies to advance promising new medicines and solutions to healthcare’s biggest challenges.
About Inversago Pharma
Located in Montreal, Inversago Pharma is a privately owned Canadian biotech company at clinical stage, specialized in the development of new therapies focusing on CB1 blockade, based on first-in-class, peripherally-acting CB1 inverse agonists. Inversago aims to provide new treatment options that improve the lives of patients affected by metabolic conditions such as Diabetic Kidney Disease including Diabetic Nephropathy Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis complications of obesity and hypertriglyceridemia as well as fibrotic indications like Progressive Fibrosis-Interstitial Lung Disease including Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis and other conditions.