Rare Diseases/Orphan Drugs

New FDA Approvals: FDA Approves BioLineRx’s Aphexda

Sept. 8: The FDA approved BioLineRx Ltd.’s Aphexda (motixafortide) in combination with filgrastim to mobilize hematopoietic stem cells to the peripheral blood for collection and subsequent autologous transplantation in people with multiple myeloma. The agency gave the agent orphan drug designation. Dosing for Aphexda is 1.25 mg/kg based on actual body weight via subcutaneous injection after filgrastim has been administered daily for four days and 10 to 14 hours prior to the start of apheresis. The drug’s price is $5,900 per vial, and the company has said that it expects most patients will need two vials.

Sept. 8: The FDA expanded the label of Sandoz Inc.’s Hyrimoz (adalimumab-adaz) to include the treatment of adults with non-infectious intermediate and posterior uveitis and panuveitis. The agency first approved the biosimilar of AbbVie Inc.’s TNF inhibitor Humira (adalimumab) on Oct. 30, 2018. Dosing starts with 80 mg via subcutaneous injection, followed by 40 mg every other week starting one week after the initial dose. The agent is available in a low-concentration, citrate-free version of its reference drug. The product launched in July with two wholesale acquisition costs: a branded version with a WAC of $6,576 and an unbranded one for $1,315 for a carton of two syringes or autoinjectors.

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Commercial Forecasting Is Changing Rapidly but Still Needs Some Improvements

Life sciences companies need to be agile in an often-changing market, and forecasting plays a crucial role in being able to do this. The increasing focus on the use of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) can make parts of forecasters’ jobs easier, but there is room for improvement in these and other areas. A recent IQVIA webinar discussed trends in commercial forecasting based on the company’s second annual survey, which was conducted earlier this year.

“This is a very exciting time to be in forecasting,” declared David Wolter, a vice president in IQVIA’s commercial consulting group. And while forecasting is critical to making business decisions, multiple challenges exist within the process.

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New FDA Approvals: FDA Gives Accelerated Approval to J&J’s Talvey

Aug. 9: The FDA gave accelerated approval to the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson’s Talvey (talquetamab-tgvs) for the treatment of adults with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma who have received at least four lines of therapy, including a proteasome inhibitor, an immunomodulatory agent and an anti-CD38 monoclonal antibody. The review was conducted under Project Orbis in collaboration with the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration and Switzerland’s Swissmedic; it used the Assessment Aid. The agent, a G protein-coupled receptor class C group 5 member D (GPRC5D)-directed CD3 T-cell engager, is a first-in-class bispecific antibody. Dosing of the subcutaneous injection, which is administered by a qualified health care professional, can be done weekly or biweekly. For weekly dosing, a step-up schedule consists of 0.01 mg/kg on day one, then 0.06 mg/kg on day four, then 0.4 mg/kg on day seven and then 0.4 mg/kg one week later and weekly thereafter. For biweekly dosing, administration starts at 0.01 mg/kg on day one, 0.06 mg/kg on day four, 0.4 mg/kg on day seven, then 0.8 mg/kg on day 10 and then 0.8 mg/kg two weeks later and every two weeks thereafter. The drug’s list price is $45,000 per month, and the company estimates a pricing range of $270,000 to $360,000 for an average treatment duration of six to eight months.

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New FDA Approvals: FDA Expands Label of Novartis’ Leqvio

July 7: The FDA broadened the label of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp.’s Leqvio (inclisiran) to include its use as an adjunct to diet and statin therapy to reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) in adults with primary hyperlipidemia. The agency initially approved the small interfering RNA (siRNA) therapy on Dec. 22, 2021. Dosing is 284 mg via a subcutaneous injection by a health care professional, then another dose at three months and then every six months. The drug’s list price is $3,290.63 per dose.

July 11: The FDA expanded the label of Organon’s Hadlima (adalimumab-bwwd) to include the treatment of adults with non-infectious intermediate and posterior uveitis and panuveitis. The agency first approved the biosimilar of AbbVie Inc.’s Humira (adalimumab) on July 23, 2019. Dosing starts with 80 mg via subcutaneous injection, followed by 40 mg every other week starting one week after the initial dose. The agent is available in both low-concentration and high-concentration versions of its reference drug. The product recently launched with a wholesale acquisition cost of $1,038 for a carton of two syringes or autoinjectors.

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New FDA Approvals: FDA Expands Label of Pfizer’s Abrilada

June 14: The FDA expanded the label of Pfizer Inc.’s Abrilada (adalimumab-afzb) to include the treatment of moderate to severe hidradenitis suppurativa in adults. The agency first approved the biosimilar of AbbVie Inc.’s Humira (adalimumab) on Nov. 15, 2019. Dosing starts with 160 mg via subcutaneous injection on day one or split over two consecutive days, then 80 mg on day 15, and then on day 29 and subsequent doses, 40 mg every week or 80 mg every other week. Drugs.com lists the price of two 40 mg/0.4 mL kits and two 40 mg/0.8 mL kits of Humira, each with two devices, as more than $7,299. Pfizer told AIS Health, a division of MMIT, that it would launch the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitor in “late third-quarter/early fourth-quarter 2023” per the settlement of patent litigation with AbbVie.

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New FDA Approvals: FDA Approves Chiesi Group and Protalix’s Elfabrio

May 9: The FDA approved Chiesi Group unit Chiesi Global Rare Diseases and Protalix BioTherapeutics, Inc.’s Elfabrio (pegunigalsidase alfa-iwxj) for the treatment of adults with Fabry disease. A PEGylated enzyme replacement therapy, the agent is a recombinant human α–Galactosidase–A enzyme expressed in plant-cell culture that is designed to provide a long half-life. Recommended dosing is 1 mg/kg via intravenous infusion every two weeks.

May 17: The FDA approved a 40 mg/0.8 mL single-dose autoinjector for Boehringer Ingelheim’s Cyltezo (adalimumab-adbm). The agency initially approved the biosimilar of AbbVie Inc.’s Humira (adalimumab) on Aug. 25, 2017, as a single-use prefilled syringe. The drug is approved for multiple chronic inflammatory diseases. The new pen will be available in two-, four- and six-pack options when the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitor launches on July 1.

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New FDA Approvals: FDA Expands Patient Population of Takeda’s HyQvia

April 11: The FDA expanded the patient population of Takeda’s HyQvia (immune globulin infusion 10% [human] with recombinant human hyaluronidase) to include the treatment of primary immunodeficiency in people between the ages of 2 to 16 years. The agency first approved the drug on Sept. 12, 2014. Subcutaneous dosing can be administered at home or in an infusion center every three or four weeks after a ramping-up period. The volume administered is based on weight and trough level. Drugs.com lists the price of 160 u/mL for 105 milliliters as more than $2,464.

April 14: The FDA expanded the label of Novartis Pharmaceutical Corp. unit Sandoz Inc.’s Hyrimoz (adalimumab-adaz) for the treatment of moderate-to-severe hidradenitis suppurativa in adults. The agency initially approved the biosimilar of AbbVie Inc.’s Humira (adalimumab) on Oct. 30, 2018. Dosing starts with 160 mg via subcutaneous injection on day one or split over two consecutive days, then 80 mg on day 15, and then on day 29 and subsequent doses, 40 mg every week or 80 mg every other week. Drugs.com lists the price of two 40 mg/0.4 mL kits and two 40 mg/0.8 mL kits of Humira, each with two devices, as more than $7,299. Sandoz has said it will launch Hyrimoz on July 1 per the settlement of patent litigation with AbbVie.

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Brukinsa Gains Another Approval in Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

The FDA recently expanded the use of BeiGene, Ltd.’s Brukinsa (zanubrutinib) to include its use in the treatment of a hematologic cancer. The agent is already approved for three other rare types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Respondents to a Zitter Insights survey said that while its availability will result in a lower level of unmet need in the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), there is still moderate or high unmet need for the condition.

On Jan. 1, the FDA expanded the label of Brukinsa to include the treatment of adults with CLL or small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL). CLL and SLL are the same disease, a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, except CLL cancer cells are mostly in the blood and bone marrow, while in SLL, the cells are mainly in the lymph nodes. CLL is the most common adult leukemia.

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FDA’s Marks Emphasizes Agency’s Support of Moving CGT Space Forward

While the cell and gene therapy (CGT) industry has shown remarkable progress, it still has some barriers to overcome. The FDA is taking numerous steps to help bring these products onto the market, asserted Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER), the unit that oversees biological products, including vaccines, allergenic products, blood and blood products, and cellular, tissue, and gene therapies, at a recent public appearance.

“I think the bottom line here for us is that we are very committed to helping move this field forward for populations of all sizes,” particularly for small populations, which is “one of the areas that is our highest medical need right now,” said Marks during a session in the CGT track at the Reuters Pharma USA conference, held March 28 and 29 in Philadelphia.

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CGT Manufacturers Face Variety of Commercialization Challenges

Sessions during the cell and gene therapy (CGT) track at the Reuters Pharma USA conference, held March 28 and 29 in Philadelphia, echoed much of the same advice for pharma companies commercializing one of these products. Starting the process early and collaborating with and forming partnerships with a variety of stakeholders are critical steps to success, multiple speakers emphasized.

Companies looking to bring a cell and gene therapy (CGT) to market should start preparing early on issues such as manufacturing and logistical matters, market access and patient access, advised Warner Biddle, senior vice president and global head of commercial for Kite Pharma, a Gilead Sciences, Inc. company. Kite has two chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapies on the U.S. market: Yescarta (axicabtagene ciloleucel) — the second CAR-T to secure FDA approval — and Tecartus (brexucabtagene autoleucel).

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