Oncology

News Briefs: Fresenius Kabi Launches First Actemra Biosimilar

Fresenius Kabi AG launched Tyenne (tocilizumab-aazg), the first biosimilar of Roche Group member Genentech USA, Inc.’s Actemra (tocilizumab) to become available in the U.S., the company revealed April 15. The FDA approved the interleukin-6 inhibitor on March 5 in both intravenous and subcutaneous formulations, making it the only Actemra biosimilar approved so far in both. On Sept. 29, 2023, the FDA approved Bio-Thera and Biogen Inc.’s Tofidence (tocilizumab-bavi) as an intravenous formulation only. Fresenius says Tyenne is available now in an intravenous formulation only. The agents are approved for several autoimmune conditions.

Sandoz reached an agreement with Amgen Inc. resolving all patent litigation related to denosumab, Sandoz revealed April 30. The FDA approved Sandoz’s Jubbonti (denosumab-bbdz) and Wyost (denosumab-bbdz) on March 5 as biosimilar to and interchangeable with Amgen’s Prolia (denosumab) and Xgeva (denosumab) for all of their indications. They are the first FDA-approved denosumab biosimilars. The agreement will allow the agents to launch on May 31, 2025, or earlier “under certain circumstances if customary acceleration provisions are triggered.”

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Established TKI Gains New Indication to Treat Aggressive Cancer

After first gaining approval more than a decade ago, Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A., Inc.’s Iclusig (ponatinib) recently gained approval for the frontline treatment of an aggressive blood cancer. One clinical trial found that people on the agent experienced complete remission more than twice as often as those on a comparator therapy. Industry sources point to the drug’s clinical efficacy as a significant development in the treatment of the disease.

On March 19, the FDA gave accelerated approval to Iclusig in combination with chemotherapy for the treatment of adults with newly diagnosed Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (Ph+ ALL). The newest application had priority review and orphan drug designation, and its review used the Real-Time Oncology Review and the Assessment Aid.

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New FDA Approvals: FDA Approves AstraZeneca’s Voydeya

March 29: The FDA approved Alexion, AstraZeneca Rare Disease’s, Voydeya (danicopan) as an add-on therapy to ravulizumab (currently available as the company’s Ultomiris) or eculizumab (currently available as the company’s Soliris) for the treatment of extravascular hemolysis in adults with paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria. The agent is a first-in-class factor D inhibitor, and it has breakthrough therapy designation. Initial dosing for the tablet is 150 mg three times a day, which can be increased to 200 mg three times a day. Drugs.com lists the price of 180 50 mg-100 mg tablets as more than $4,359.

April 5: The FDA expanded the patient population of AstraZeneca’s Fasenra (benralizumab) to include the add-on maintenance treatment of people aged 6 to 11 with severe asthma with an eosinophilic phenotype. The agency first approved the interleukin-5 receptor alpha-directed cytolytic monoclonal antibody on Nov. 14, 2017. Dosing for the newest indication for pediatric patients weighing less than 35 kg is 10 mg via subcutaneous injection every four weeks for the first three doses and then once every eight weeks; for those at least 35 kg, dosing is 30 mg every four weeks, followed by once every eight weeks. The list price for one 30 mg/mL solution is $5,511.41.

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Older Drug Gets New Indication for Use in Aggressive Cancer

A drug that the FDA first approved more than a decade ago was recently approved for the first-line treatment of an aggressive blood cancer. One clinical trial showed that people on the agent experienced complete remission more than twice as often as those on a comparator therapy.

On March 19, the FDA gave accelerated approval to Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A., Inc.’s Iclusig (ponatinib) in combination with chemotherapy for the treatment of adults with newly diagnosed Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (Ph+ ALL). The newest application had priority review and orphan drug designation, and its review used the Real-Time Oncology Review and the Assessment Aid.

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New FDA Approvals: FDA Approves BeiGene’s Tevimbra

March 13: The FDA approved BeiGene, Ltd.’s Tevimbra (tislelizumab-jsgr) for the treatment of adults with unresectable or metastatic esophageal squamous cell carcinoma after prior systemic chemotherapy that did not include a programmed death receptor-1 (PD-1)/programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) inhibitor. Recommended dosing for the PD-1 inhibitor is 200 mg via intravenous infusion once every three weeks. The initial dose is administered over 60 minutes; if it is tolerated, subsequent doses can be administered over 30 minutes. The drug will be available in the second half of 2024.

March 13: The FDA gave an additional indication to Mirum Pharmaceuticals, Inc.’s Livmarli (maralixibat) for the treatment of cholestatic pruritus in people at least 5 years old with progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis (PFIC). The agency first approved the ileal bile acid transporter inhibitor on Sept. 29, 2021. The new indication has orphan drug designation, as well as breakthrough therapy designation for PFIC type 2. The starting dose for the newest use of the oral solution is 285 mcg/kg once daily in the morning, increasing to 285 mcg/kg twice daily, then 428 mcg/kg twice daily and then 570 mcg/kg twice daily. Drugs.com lists the price of 9.5 mg/mL for 30 milliliters as more than $56,239.

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‘Significant Milestone’ Brings New Weapon to Advanced Melanoma Fight

The FDA recently approved a first-in-class agent to treat a particularly deadly cancer. The therapy, Iovance Biotherapeutics, Inc.’s Amtagvi (lifileucel), signifies a promising new development in the treatment of solid tumors, which represent about 90% of all cancers in the U.S. While the drug comes with a price tag of more than $500,000, as well as additional costs, payers’ experience with chimeric antigen receptor T cells (CAR-T) therapies should be helpful in their coverage of the new agent, say industry sources.

On Feb. 16, the FDA gave accelerated approval to Amtagvi for the treatment of adults with unresectable or metastatic melanoma previously treated with a programmed death receptor-1 (PD-1) inhibitor and, if BRAF V600 positive, a BRAF inhibitor with or without a MEK inhibitor. The agency gave the therapy orphan drug, regenerative medicine advanced therapy, fast track and priority review designations.

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New Medicare, Manufacturer Coverage Are Among Solutions for Cell and Gene Therapies

Among the issues facing health care payers, paying for multimillion-dollar cell and gene therapies (CGTs) is one of the most pressing, as evidenced during AHIP’s 2024 Medicare, Medicaid, Duals & Commercial Markets Forum, held March 12 through 14 in Baltimore. While they were mentioned by multiple speakers throughout the three-day conference, speakers at one session focused on the topic said that while approaches such as short-term milestone-based contracts and risk pools are being used, no perfect solution has emerged yet.

Many CGTs are in the pipeline, impacting potentially millions of patients and prompting many questions around affordability and accessibility, stated Sean Dickson, senior vice president of pharmaceutical policy at AHIP, during the March 12 session, titled “Cell and Gene Therapies: Regulatory Updates and Coverage Policies.” “Oncology is where it will get really interesting,” and these agents will have the greatest impact on Medicare payers.

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‘Landmark Approval’ Brings New Weapon to Advanced Melanoma Fight

The FDA recently approved a first-in-class agent to treat a particularly deadly cancer. The therapy signifies a promising new development in the treatment of solid tumors, which represent about 90% of all cancers in the U.S.

On Feb. 16, the FDA gave accelerated approval to Iovance Biotherapeutics, Inc.’s Amtagvi (lifileucel) for the treatment of adults with unresectable or metastatic melanoma previously treated with a programmed death receptor-1 (PD-1) inhibitor and, if BRAF V600 positive, a BRAF inhibitor with or without a MEK inhibitor. The agency gave the therapy orphan drug, regenerative medicine advanced therapy, fast track and priority review designations.

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Cardinal Health Report Highlights ‘Pivotal Year’ for Biosimilars

The FDA approved the first biosimilar in 2015, and since then, almost 50 more have been greenlighted. Last year saw the biggest influx of these competitors onto the U.S. market, and a recent Cardinal Health report, titled 2024 Biosimilars Report: Insights on a pivotal year of evolution and expansion, highlights this burgeoning market.

Since 2015, biosimilars have saved $23.6 billion, with $9.4 billion of that total coming in 2023 alone. Last year saw the long-awaited competition to the top-selling Humira (adalimumab) from AbbVie Inc., with nine biosimilars launching, two of them with interchangeable status, an important differentiator to providers. “As the top-selling drug in the world with annual sales of $20 billion in 2022, the potential monetary impact of increased market competition cannot be overstated,” says the report.

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COA: New Part D Reimbursement Is Not ‘Reasonable and Relevant’

Specialty pharmacies and oncology practices dispensing costly specialty medications have long complained that Medicare Part D direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees are not appropriate for these drugs. Efforts to do away with these retroactive fees were finally successful, but revamped reimbursement has brought a new problem — underwater reimbursement — claims the Community Oncology Alliance (COA).

DIR includes rebates and price concessions that occur after the point of sale. According to CMS, total DIR “has been growing significantly in recent years.…In 2020, pharmacy price concessions accounted for about 4.8 percent of total Part D gross drug costs ($9.5 billion), up from 0.01 percent ($8.9 million) in 2010.”

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