True innovation or just later to market? German agency questions benefits of new drugs

fiercepharma | July 12, 2019

When a new drug is approved, the developer usually trumpets its ability to fill an unmet medical need. But a German agency that evaluates the quality of medical treatments disagrees is calling for an international reform of drug development and approval. In a recent analysis published in The BMJ, the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG), Germany’s health technology assessment agency, found that the majority of newly approved drugs were actually not much different from standard care. Among 216 new approvals—152 new molecular entities and 64 new indications for existing drugs—the agency reviewed between 2011 and 2017, only 54 (25%) were judged to have a considerable or major added benefit over standard care, drug assessment experts from the agency found. As for the rest, the benefit was either minor or couldn’t be quantified, or the evaluators didn't have sufficient evidence to make a choice. Even of the 89 drugs that showed at least some additional benefit, 37 delivered advances in only part of the approved patient population, IQWiG said. In psychiatry/neurology, only one of 18 was better than existing drugs. What caused the huge gap? IQWiG blamed the current drug development and approval process and the illusion that newer is better. “Presumably, this is because regulators still allow placebo-controlled studies even though health technology assessment bodies have long recommended active-controlled trials, which provide more useful information,” it said. And even in cases where a drug was tested against an appropriate standard treatment, regulators could still hand out a green light after it simply showed “non-inferiority.”

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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

Tasly Pharmaceuticals and Mauna Kea Technologies Announce Joint Venture and Licensing Agreements

Mauna Kea Technologies | July 12, 2022

Mauna Kea Technologies inventor of Cellvizio®, the multidisciplinary probe and needle-based confocal laser endomicroscopy platform, and Tasly Pharmaceuticals announced the execution of an agreement to form a Joint Venture. Under terms of the agreement, Tasly and Mauna Kea will form a Joint Venture that will (i) commercialize selected Cellvizio indications in China, (ii) develop and commercialize Cellvizio globally in the fields of Neurology and Neurosurgery, and (iii) manufacture Cellvizio units for the Chinese market. The JV will utilize both existing distribution partners and its own network of China-based marketing professionals to accelerate market adoption. In exchange for contributing licenses and other intellectual property to the JV, Mauna Kea will receive cash payments totaling $10 million, a 44.1% equity interest in the JV, and a 5-year commitment to purchase minimum quantities of Cellvizio systems and probes. Mauna Kea’s equity holdings are net of shares issued to Cenponts Tech Limited in consideration for strategic advisory services provided in connection to the transaction. The Joint Venture will be majority owned and funded by Tasly and jointly managed by Tasly and Mauna Kea. The Joint Venture will be in an immediate position to leverage Mauna Kea’s position as global leader in probe and needle-based confocal laser endomicroscopy, with its FDA clearance for neurosurgery applications, its broad regulatory clearances in the Chinese market as well as its significant installed based in leading hospitals in China. “We are delighted to partner with Tasly Pharmaceuticals, a life sciences leader in Asia-Pacific with a global presence. This transaction both expands the addressable market for Cellvizio and increases Mauna Kea’s capacity to invest further in product and clinical development, including molecular imaging and artificial intelligence. This announcement builds on the strategic repositioning we announced in December 2021 and our emphasis on forming capital-efficient partnerships that leverage the commercial reach of global biopharma and medtech firms while increasing patient access to Cellvizio.” Sacha Loiseau, Ph.D., founder and Chairman of Mauna Kea Technologies Kaijing Yan, Chairman of Tasly Pharmaceuticals Group, commented: “The field of biomedical engineering is an important part of Tasly Pharmaceuticals’ second growth curve strategy. The cooperation with Mauna Kea Technologies will enable us to quickly access large markets in China addressed by the multiple clinical applications of Confocal Laser Endomicroscopy. The recent advances in molecular imaging with Cellvizio are also of great interest to us since Tasly Pharmaceuticals could assist the Joint Venture in developing new combinations of Cellvizio with novel molecular markers, aligned with our vision of providing integrated solutions from diagnosis to treatment. We very much look forward to a fruitful and rich collaboration with Mauna Kea Technologies.” About Tasly Pharmaceuticals Group Adhering to the business mission of "To share the joy of health with all", Tasly has always been promoting the integrative development of traditional Chinese medicine and modern medicine. Tasly continuously focuses on the three disease fields of cardio-cerebro-vascular diseases, digestive and metabolic diseases and tumors, which have the largest market share and the fastest development in China. It is committed to providing drug R&D that is urgently needed for clinical use and even addresses the unmet needs in China's clinical market. By leveraging the coordinated development advantages of modern TCM, biological medicine and chemical medicine, it carries out the strategic layout of innovative drugs and continues to maintain its leading position in the industry and the development momentum of R&D and innovation. About Mauna Kea Technologies Mauna Kea Technologies is a global medical device company that manufactures and sells Cellvizio®, the real-time in vivo cellular imaging platform. This technology uniquely delivers in vivo cellular visualization which enables physicians to monitor the progression of disease over time, assess point-in-time reactions as they happen in real time, classify indeterminate areas of concern, and guide surgical interventions.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS

IceCure Submits Regulatory Filing in Vietnam for Approval of ProSense®

IceCure Medical Ltd | August 30, 2022

IceCure Medical Ltd. developer of minimally-invasive cryoablation technology, the ProSense® System that destroys tumors by freezing as an alternative to surgical tumor removal, announced it has submitted a regulatory filing with the Department of Medical Equipment and Construction of Vietnam's Ministry of Health for the ProSense System and accessories. The application covers indications including benign and malignant breast tumors, benign and malignant lung tumors, benign and malignant liver tumors, kidney cancer, ablation of cancerous or malignant tissue, musculoskeletal tumors, and other indications. Vietnam's medical device market was valued at $1.4 billion in 2019 and was projected to grow 10% annually through 2024, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, with overall healthcare expenditures in the country totaling $17 billion. Liver, lung, and breast cancer were the three most prevalent cancers in Vietnam in 2020 according to the World Health Organization. "Asia is a significant market for ProSense and Vietnam is one of the fastest growing healthcare markets in the region. Having started the regulatory process in Vietnam, we anticipate high interest from potential distributors in the country. This comes on the heels of our recent successes in the region with Shanghai Medtronic Zhikang Medical Devices Co. Ltd. in China and Terumo in Japan, Singapore, and Thailand." IceCure CEO, Eyal Shamir About IceCure Medical Ltd. IceCure Medical Ltd. develops and markets ProSense®, an advanced liquid-nitrogen-based cryoablation therapy for the treatment of tumors (benign and cancerous) by freezing, with the primary focus areas being breast, kidney, bone and lung cancer. Its minimally invasive technology is a safe and effective alternative to hospital surgical tumor removal that is easily performed in a relatively short procedure. The system is marketed and sold worldwide for the indications cleared to-date by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and approved in Europe with the CE Mark.

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Ligand Pharmaceuticals Announces Inducement Grants Under NASDAQ Listing Rule 5635(c)(4)

Ligand Pharmaceuticals | August 02, 2022

Ligand Pharmaceuticals Incorporated announced that effective August 1, 2022, Ligand’s Board of Directors approved the grant of non-qualified stock option awards to purchase an aggregate of 90,073 shares of its common stock, 5,000 restricted stock units and 4,000 performance stock units the target level to six non-executive employees. The options were granted on August 1, 2022, and the grant date for the RSUs and the PSUs will be the date on which Ligand files a Form S-8 Registration Statement to register the shares pursuant to Ligand’s 2022 Employment Inducement Plan. The awards were granted under the Inducement Plan as employment inducement awards pursuant to NASDAQ Listing Rule 5635(c)(4). The Inducement Plan is used exclusively for the grant of equity awards to individuals who were not previously employees of Ligand, or following a bona fide period of non-employment, as an inducement material to such individuals’ entering into employment with Ligand, pursuant to Nasdaq Listing Rule 5635(c)(4). The options have an exercise price of $89.70 per share, which is the closing price of Ligand’s common stock on The Nasdaq Global Select Market on August 1, 2022. The stock options have a term of ten years and will vest over four years, with 12.5% of the shares vesting six months after the employee’s commencement of employment and the balance of the shares vesting in 42 equal monthly installments thereafter, subject to the grantee’s continued service on such vesting dates. The RSUs will vest over three years on the first three anniversaries of the grantee’s commencement of employment, subject to continued service through each applicable vesting date. The PSUs will vest based on the achievement of certain total shareholder return objectives and the completion of the contemplated spin-off of OmniAb, Inc. from Ligand. The number of shares earned under the PSUs may be up to 6,500 in the aggregate if maximum performance levels are achieved. About Ligand Pharmaceuticals Ligand is a revenue-generating biopharmaceutical company focused on developing or acquiring technologies that help pharmaceutical companies discover and develop medicines. Our business model creates value for stockholders by providing a diversified portfolio of biotech and pharmaceutical product revenue streams that are supported by an efficient and low corporate cost structure. Our goal is to offer investors an opportunity to participate in the promise of the biotech industry in a profitable, diversified and lower-risk business than a typical biotech company. Our business model is based on doing what we do best: drug discovery, early-stage drug development, product reformulation and partnering. We partner with other pharmaceutical companies to leverage what they do best (late-stage development, regulatory management and commercialization) ultimately to generate our revenue. Ligand’s OmniAb® technology platform is a patent-protected transgenic animal platform used in the discovery of fully human monoclonal and bispecific therapeutic antibodies. The Captisol® platform technology is a patent-protected, chemically modified cyclodextrin with a structure designed to optimize the solubility and stability of drugs. Ligand’s Pelican Expression Technology® is a robust, validated, cost-effective and scalable platform for recombinant protein production that is especially well-suited for complex, large-scale protein production where traditional systems are not. Ligand has established multiple alliances, licenses and other business relationships with the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies including Amgen, Merck, Pfizer, Sanofi, Janssen, Takeda, Gilead Sciences and Baxter International.

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How advances in imaging technology and the use of artificial intelligence and analytics are improving the accuracy and cost of medical imaging for early cancer diagnosis, and increasing confidence in vital preventive screening programs.

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