Briefing documents released by the FDA related to the Vaccines and Related Products Advisory Committee meeting slated for Friday suggest that the COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson (J&J) will sail smoothly to an emergency use authorization. “A century ago, [J&J] played a leading role in combatting the 1918 flu pandemic,” said Richard Nettles, the Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based company’s vice president of medical affairs in testimony Feb. 23 before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight. “Our history of confronting global health care challenges continues to the present day, including with the European approval of our Ebola vaccine last year,” he added, saying the company “brought this same approach to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Astrazeneca plc officials, during the firm’s Feb. 11 conference call on fourth-quarter earnings, highlighted the oral selective estrogen receptor degrader (SERD) camizestrant in breast cancer (BC), which Cristian Massacesi, head of late-stage oncology development, said bears “best-in-class potential, in terms of providing superior clinical benefit at a well-tolerated dose” of 75 mg once per day.
Although progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis (PFIC) tends to draw more hoopla in the race, and Mirum Pharmaceuticals Inc. looks due to beat Albireo Pharma Inc. to market in Alagille syndrome (ALGS), the most revenue likely lies in a third rare pediatric liver disease where the firms compete: biliary atresia (BA). Mirum, of Foster City, Calif., completed its rolling NDA several weeks ago for maralixibat – an inhibitor of the apical sodium-dependent bile acid transporter designed to drive more excretion of bile acids as a way of lowering their level systemically – in cholestatic pruritus in patients with ALGS one year of age and older.
As developers continue their race in the anti-CD47 space, Gilead Sciences Inc. remains high profile with magrolimab, which has reached phase III development for myelodysplastic syndromes. Meanwhile, Alx Oncology Inc., of Burlingame, Calif., is emerging with potentially the first drug targeting the CD47-SIRPa axis to treat solid tumors as well as hematologic malignancies.
Athenex Inc.’s launch of Klisyri (tirbanibulin) likely whetted investor appetite for another prospect coming down the pike: Oraxol, an oral form of paclitaxel for which the Buffalo, N.Y.-based firm has been assigned a PDUFA date of Feb. 28.
Amicus Therapeutics Inc.’s results from the phase III trial called Propel with AT-GAA (cipaglucosidase alfa and miglustat) for late-onset Pompe disease (LOPD) met with split opinions, though Wall Street took a decidedly dim view and left shares (NASDAQ:FOLD) to close at $12.57, down $6.16, or 33%.
Recently published findings in JAMA Psychiatry related to the sharply increased risk of death from COVID-19 in people with schizophrenia put the spotlight on drug development in the space, which has been steadily heating up the past few years.
Panbela Therapeutics Inc. hit a speed bump with its phase I trial in the ever-challenging indication of pancreatic cancer (PC), as an independent data safety monitoring board (DSMB) recommended that dosing be held for patients until more safety information is available about polyamine analog SBP-101.
Kalvista Pharmaceuticals Inc.’s chief development officer, Christopher Yea, said the across-the-board positive phase II top-line data with KVD-900 for on-demand use against hereditary angioedema (HAE) attacks will open “a very flexible discussion with regulators” regarding the design and endpoints of the phase III study to come with the oral kallikrein inhibitor. Shares of the Cambridge, Mass.-based firm (NASDAQ:KALV) closed at $33.50, up $17.89, or 115%, after reaching a high of $45, as Wall Street digested the findings.
CEO Mitchell Steiner said Veru Inc. at first downplayed the prospects of oncology candidate VERU-111 in COVID-19 treatment but now, with positive phase II data in hand, the company has a moral obligation to push onward to late-stage research.