U.S. Reps to Gilead: Did your donation of free HIV prevention drug Truvada have strings attached?

fiercepharma | June 27, 2019

In May, Gilead pledged to donate 2.4 million bottles of its HIV drug Truvada to the U.S. governments effort to eradicate the disease, partly by preventing new infections. Gilead even promised it would donate its newer drug, Descovy, if the FDA approves it for prevention as it did for Truvada. But now Gilead is facing accusations that its largesse may have suspicious underpinnings. On Wednesday the House Oversight Committee’s chairman, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), and three colleagues sent a letter (PDF) to Gilead demanding details about what led to the company’s generous offer. Specifically, the committee wants to know if the Truvada donation involved negotiations between Gilead and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) over patents on the product. A spokesperson for Gilead said in an email to FiercePharma that the company is “reviewing the full scope of the request and will respond to the committee in a timely manner.” Gilead has been under fire from the House Oversight Committee since May, when new CEO Daniel O’Day was called before Congress to be grilled about Truvada’s use in HIV prevention, known as PrEP. Much of the four-hour discussion focused on cost. One expert who testified during the sometimes-contentious hearing said that Truvada is available in Australia for $8 per month but that it costs $1,780 per month in the U.S. Hence only 10% of people who could benefit by using the drug for HIV prevention are receiving it, the committee concluded.

Spotlight

Over 1.2 million cases of bacterial meningitis are estimated to occur worldwide each year. If not treated promptly, up to half of those cases will be fatal. This infographic from Datamonitor Healthcare provides a snapshot of the meningococcal vaccines market in the US and five major EU markets.


Other News
PHARMACY MARKET

ICON selected by BARDA to conduct anthrax vaccine clinical trial

ICON plc | October 07, 2022

ICON plc. a world-leading healthcare intelligence and clinical research organisation, announces that it has been selected by the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority part of the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response in the Department of Health and Human Services to execute an anthrax vaccine clinical trial. BARDA is providing funding to the Government and Public Health Solutions team at ICON to develop and execute a clinical trial that will evaluate the immune response to the next-generation anthrax vaccine AV7909. The team will support the evaluation of AV7909 immunogenicity kinetics by conducting clinical trial activities including but not limited to project management, clinical operations and quality assurance. ICON has extensive experience in supporting vaccine clinical trials. It has participated in over 160 vaccine studies in the past five years. ICON’s vaccine clinical research professionals are therapeutically aligned with a leadership team that brings more than 200 years of combined experience in vaccine clinical development for commercial businesses, government, NGOs and multinational health organisations. “We are pleased to have been selected to execute this important clinical trial. The potential for an anthrax attack is still a very real and serious threat, and we are proud to be playing our part to increase the understanding of treatment options for anthrax exposure, ultimately supporting human health.” Edward Wright, President, ICON Government and Public Health Solutions This clinical study will inform operational logistics and use of AV7909 should an anthrax emergency occur. The clinical studies will not expose participants to anthrax. The trial will enrol healthy adults aged 18 and older and will be conducted in the United States starting in early 2023. BARDA, part of the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is responsible for developing medical countermeasures to secure the U.S. against chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats, as well as pandemic influenza and emerging infectious diseases. Since 2014, ICON has been a member of BARDA’s Medical Countermeasures Clinical Studies Network (CSN). The network is responsible for planning and executing clinical studies to support medical countermeasure development. Bacillus anthracis, the agent that causes anthrax, is a serious bioterrorism threat due to the delivery of aerosolised spores that can cause high-mortality disease through gastrointestinal, cutaneous, inhalational or injection routes. Although clinical manifestations of the disease differ by route, inhalational anthrax is the most lethal. Inhalational anthrax infection usually develops within a week after exposure but can take up to two months. Without treatment, only about 10% to 15% of patients survive after exposure to inhaled B. anthracis spores. Since 2015, BARDA has supported the late-stage development of AV7909, a next-generation anthrax vaccine which uses the U.S. Food and Drug Administration licensed anthrax vaccine Biothrax in combination with an immune system stimulant or adjuvant. The vaccine is being developed in partnership with its manufacturer Emergent Biosolutions Inc. to protect against anthrax post-exposure when used in combination with the recommended antibiotics. About ICON plc ICON is the world’s leading clinical research organisation, powered by healthcare intelligence. From molecule to medicine, we advance clinical research providing outsourced development and commercialisation services to pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device and government and public health organisations. We develop new innovations, drive emerging therapies forward and improve patient lives. With headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, ICON employed approximately 40,500 employees in 119 locations in 53 countries as at June 30, 2022. About ICON Government & Public Health Solutions ICON Government & Public Health Solutions is ICON's business unit focused on direct US Government engagement, Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) and academia, providing full service and functional research solutions. In addition, ICON GPHS coordinates a Government Centre of Excellence (CoE) to lend internal federal government subject matter expertise that can be leveraged by other ICON business units when commercial clients receive federal funding on ICON awarded contracts. About BARDA’s Medical Countermeasures Clinical Studies Network (CSN) The CSN provides BARDA partners and medical countermeasure developers with essential tools and services to develop vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and medical devices. The CSN provides comprehensive (Phases 1-4) clinical study services.

Read More

BUSINESS INSIGHTS

Ex-Biocon team Symbio Generrics completes capital raise from Ascent Capital

Symbio Generrics | November 25, 2022

Symbio Generrics India Private Limited a specialized Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients & Intermediates manufacturing and marketing organization, announced that it has completed an equity capital raise from Ascent Capital, a leading growth-capital focused private equity fund. Symbio was founded by pharmaceutical professionals, Salim Shaikh and Abhijit Kale. They were soon joined by the third promoter, Akash Puranik; all of whom possess decades of experience in the global pharmaceutical industry. Symbio's journey from a sales and marketing organization to a full-fledged vertically integrated manufacturer of specialized APIs has been exemplary. Through a well-developed customer ecosystem, the highly experienced & skilled team at Symbio has established a global footprint for its APIs. Ascent Capital's sizeable investment in Symbio will further accelerate the company's expansion plans and sets the company enroute to emerge as a top-10 manufacturer of APIs in India. The funds raised from Ascent will be utilized towards undertaking strategic acquisitions, establishing a best-in-class R&D facility and ramping up manufacturing capacity. The company's R&D Centre is housed in Bengaluru while the manufacturing plant is located at Dobbaspet, Bengaluru. The Company is in the process of acquiring another manufacturing facility in India. The team is focused on building a high-potential generics API portfolio for the global markets and to this effect, will work towards getting US FDA and other SRA approvals for their recently acquired facilities. "We are glad to be associated with Ascent Capital which has a reputation of partnering with entrepreneurs to build leading businesses in India. The sizeable investment from Ascent Capital will add power to our next growth spurt and enable us to emerge as a top-10 API company in India. We are setting ourselves a medium-term goal of growing rapidly into a sizeable company by leveraging the strength of our team and expanding our horizons to actively serve the global API market." Commenting on the fund raise, Salim Shaikh, Executive Chairman & Founder of Symbio Generrics Akash Puranik, Promoter, MD& CEO of Symbio Generrics, says, "The latest feather in our cap is the influx of resources from Ascent Capital. We have carved strategic alliances and relationships spanning over two decades with leading pharmaceutical entities in regulated and semi-regulated markets and are now keen to expand these synergies further in the global arena. With a well-developed infrastructure, both on the manufacturing and R&D front, we are keen to engage with potential partners for CDMO Business." Mr. Raja Kumar, Founder and MD of Ascent Capital, said, "Ascent Capital has been known to support highly qualified professional teams in niche domains. Continuing with this tradition, we are delighted to partner with the first-generation technocrat founders at Symbio. Collectively, the team at Symbio is one of the best multi-disciplinary teams in the Indian pharma space and has shown an exemplary track record of building global relationships. We look forward to working collaboratively with the Company to ensure that we have another category leader from the Ascent stable, akin to BigBasket, Sequent, Skanray, to name a few." IC Universal Legal's Chennai team led by Senior Partner, Sameena Chatrapathy represented Symbio as the legal counsel for the fund raise from Ascent Capital as well as the follow-on acquisitions. About Symbio Symbio Generrics India Private Limited founded in the year 2010 is a specialized Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients & Intermediates manufacturing and marketing organization with headquarters in Bengaluru. The Company was founded by first generation entrepreneurs coming from a leading pharmaceutical organization, with a combined experience of over 40 years. About Ascent Capital Ascent Capital is a leading India-focused Independent Private Equity Fund Manager. The team at Ascent is one of the most experienced investment teams in India with 150+ years of collective experience in Indian PE and capital markets. Thus far, Ascent has helped more than 60 entrepreneurs build leading businesses across diverse sectors such as Technology, Healthcare, Financial Services, Consumer Brands, etc. It typically invests USD 10-30 MM in fast growing businesses, led by outstanding entrepreneurs, that have the potential to emerge as leaders in its segment thereby delivering exceptional exit outcomes. Ascent is backed by marquee investors, who include long term institutional investors like pension funds, foundations, endowments, fund of funds and large corporations - a vote of confidence in the team's ability to excel and deliver results.

Read More

BUSINESS INSIGHTS

Aquestive Therapeutics Receives FDA Tentative Approval for Libervant™ (diazepam) Buccal Film

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. About Libervant 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.

Read More

PHARMA TECH

AeroRx Partners with HCmed to Develop a Nebulized LABA/LAMA Combination Solution for the Treatment of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

AeroRx Partners | October 03, 2022

AeroRx Therapeutics, LLC. and HCmed Innovations Co., Ltd. have initiated a collaboration, introducing a LABA/LAMA combination solution for delivery with a breath-actuated nebulizer. This collaboration sets forth the framework by which both companies will work together to develop a new nebulized combination formulation for the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. According to market reports, it is estimated that there would be close to 34.5 million COPD patients worldwide by 2028, accounting for treatment global sales that could reach up to 19.3 billion USD. AeroRx is currently developing the first nebulized LABA/LAMA combination solution, which could benefit 7-19% of the COPD population. This population group is characterized for suffering from moderate to severe airflow obstruction, which creates difficulties to achieve the inspiratory flow rate required to use most dry powder inhalers optimally. Under this partnership, AeroRx will be responsible for the formulation development, clinical trials, and commercialization of the drug product, while HCmed will be responsible for the customization of the AdheResp breath-actuated nebulizer platform, analyzing and optimizing the formulation's aerosol characterization performance to accommodate the various stages of drug development process and the final combination product. The project will follow a 505(b)2 regulatory pathway, and the corresponding PK/PD study is expected to be conducted with HCmed's nebulizer in 2023. "We are excited to announce our partnership with AeroRx. The AeroRx team has extensive experience in the development of respiratory drugs, while at HCmed we can support our partners to develop drug-nebulizer combination products with our proprietary breath-actuated mesh nebulizer platform. The product of our collaboration will provide COPD patients with an effective inhaled LABA/LAMA combination drug, which will reinforce patients' treatment adherence and improve their quality of life." Jason Cheng, CEO and founder of HCmed Keith Ung, President and co-founder of AeroRx also commented, "We too are enthusiastic about this partnership. Breath-actuated vibrating mesh delivery of inhaled therapeutics is the wave of the future for many therapeutics and HCmed has become one of the leaders in this elegant inhaler device technology." About HCmed Founded in 2014, HCmed Innovations Co., Ltd. is a contract development and manufacturing organization that provides high-quality and cost-effective vibrating mesh nebulizer technology and services to support global pharmaceutical partners in the development of drug-nebulizer combination products for inhalation therapy. HCmed offers a mature customizable mesh nebulizer platform to enhance drug delivery. This technology enables efficient and reliable nebulization of different types of medication, ranging from small molecule synthetics to large molecule biologics, as either solutions, suspensions, or even difficult-to-deliver high viscosity drugs. About AeroRx Founded in 2022, AeroRx Therapeutics, LLC. is a spin-off of iPharma Lab's inhalation CDRO business which was recently acquired by Kindeva Drug Delivery. AeroRx is developing proprietary inhaled products for the treatment of COPD and asthma. The company is led by industry veterans with extensive expertise in inhaled drug delivery and development as well as a track record in building new pharmaceuticals organizations from the ground up.

Read More

Spotlight

Over 1.2 million cases of bacterial meningitis are estimated to occur worldwide each year. If not treated promptly, up to half of those cases will be fatal. This infographic from Datamonitor Healthcare provides a snapshot of the meningococcal vaccines market in the US and five major EU markets.

Resources