Rare Diseases/Orphan Drugs

New FDA Approvals: FDA Approves Acadia’s Daybue for Rett Syndrome

March 10: The FDA approved Acadia Pharmaceuticals Inc.’s Daybue (trofinetide) for the treatment of Rett syndrome in people at least 2 years old. The drug is the only FDA-approved treatment for the complex, rare neurodevelopmental disorder, which is estimated to affect 6,000 to 9,000 people in the U.S. The agency gave the drug fast track status and orphan drug designation; it also gave the company a rare pediatric disease priority review voucher. Dosing of the oral solution is weight based and can be given orally or via gastrostomy tube. The company has not disclosed the agent’s price, but analyst estimates are between $400,000 and $600,000 per year. Acadia said it expects the agent to be available by the end of April.

March 13: The FDA expanded the patient population of Mirum Pharmaceuticals, Inc.’s Livmarli (maralixibat) to include the treatment of cholestatic pruritus in people with Alagille syndrome who are at least 3 months old. The agency initially approved the oral solution on Sept. 29, 2021. The starting dose is 190 mcg/kg once daily and then increased to 380 mcg/kg after one week. Drugs.com lists the price of 9.5 mg/mL for 30 milliliters as more than $53,712.

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FDA Adds CLL/SLL to Brukinsa’s Label

The FDA recently gave an additional approval to BeiGene, Ltd.’s Brukinsa (zanubrutinib), which 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. 19, 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.

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

Feb. 3: The FDA expanded the patient population for Takeda’s Takhzyro (lanadelumab-flyo) to include the prevention of hereditary angioedema attacks in people at least 2 years old. The agency initially approved the plasma kallikrein inhibitor on Aug. 3, 2018. Dosing of the subcutaneous injectable in people at least 12 years old is 300 mg every two weeks. In people at least 6 and less than 12, dosing is 150 mg every two weeks, and for people 2 years old and younger than 6, dosing is 150 mg every four weeks. Drugs.com lists the price of one single-dose 300 mg/2 mL subcutaneous solution as more than $26,165.

Feb. 8: The FDA granted another indication to Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.’s Eylea (aflibercept) for the treatment of retinopathy of prematurity in preterm infants. The agency first approved the drug on Nov. 18, 2011. Dosing of the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitor for the newest indication is 0.4 mg via intravitreal injection; treatment may be given bilaterally on the same day. Injections may be repeated with an interval of at least 10 days. Drugs.com lists the price of a 40 mg/ml intravitreal solution as more than $1,957.

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New FDA Approvals: FDA Expands Label of BeiGene’s Brukinsa

Jan. 19: The FDA expanded the label of BeiGene, Ltd.’s Brukinsa (zanubrutinib) to include the treatment of adults with chronic lymphocytic leukemia or small lymphocytic lymphoma. The agency initially approved the Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor on Nov. 14, 2019. The agency granted the application orphan drug designation, and its review used the Assessment Aid. The recommended dose of the capsule is 160 mg twice daily or 320 mg once daily. Drugs.com lists the price of 120 80 mg capsules as more than $15,264.

Jan. 19: The FDA granted accelerated approval to Seagen Inc.’s Tukysa (tucatinib) in combination with trastuzumab for the treatment of adults with RAS wild-type, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-positive unresectable or metastatic colorectal cancer that has progressed following treatment with fluoropyrimidine-, oxaliplatin- and irinotecan-based chemotherapy. The company says the tyrosine kinase inhibitor is the first FDA-approved treatment in HER2-positive metastatic colorectal cancer. The agency first approved the drug on April 17, 2020. The newest indication had priority review and breakthrough therapy designation. Dosing for the tablet is 300 mg twice daily. Drugs.com lists the price of 60 150 mg tablets as more than $12,389.

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2023 Outlook: Expect Rare Disease, Cancer, Immunology Drugs to Have Big Impact

While the launches of biosimilars of AbbVie Inc.’s best-selling drug Humira (adalimumab) are arguably the top entrants expected on the U.S. marketplace in 2023, numerous other specialty agents are expected to join them. AIS Health, a division of MMIT, spoke with multiple industry experts on what they’re keeping an eye on in the late-stage pipeline.

AIS Health: Are there any big specialty drugs expected to see patent expiration — and potentially generic or biosimilar competition — in 2023?

Nicole Kjesbo, Pharm.D., director of clinical program development for Prime Therapeutics LLC: Generics are expected to launch in 2023 for [AstraZeneca’s] Iressa (gefitinib), [Jazz Pharmaceuticals plc’s] Xyrem (sodium oxybate), [Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp.’s] Sandostatin LAR (octreotide acetate) and Thalomid (thalidomide) [from Bristol Myers Squibb unit Celgene Corp.]. Stelara [(ustekinumab) from Johnson & Johnson unit Janssen Biotech, Inc.] (IV/SC) and IV Actemra [[(tocilizumab) from Genentech USA, Inc., a member of the Roche Group] lose their exclusivity in 2023.

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FDA Approved Four New Gene Therapies, Other Novel Agents in 2022

While the FDA may not have approved the most drugs in a year in 2022, it still gave the green light to a number of agents, many of them specialty medications, as well as granted additional indications to existing therapies. The FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) approved 39 new molecular entities in 2022, and the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER) approved 12 biologic license applications, including four new gene therapies in the second half of the year. AIS Health, a division of MMIT, asked some industry sources what the most notable 2022 FDA approvals were and why they were so important.

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FDA Approves Hemophilia B Gene Therapy, but Its Cost May Pose Access Problems for Payers

The FDA recently approved the fifth gene therapy to gain FDA approval, with three of those decisions coming in the second half of this year. While payer respondents to a Zitter Insights survey have expressed interest in the drug, its price may prove to be an obstacle to coverage.

On Nov. 22, the FDA approved uniQure N.V.’s Hemgenix (etranacogene dezaparvovec-drlb) for the treatment of people at least 18 years old with hemophilia B who currently use factor IX prophylaxis therapy or have current or historical life-threatening hemorrhage or have repeated serious spontaneous bleeding episodes. CSL Behring LLC, a CSL business, will market the gene therapy. The agency gave the first-in-class adeno-associated virus A5-based gene therapy — which previously was known as EtranaDez — priority review and orphan and breakthrough therapy designations.

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Collaboration Is Needed Among Stakeholders for Genetic Tests to Be Beneficial

As researchers gain growing insight into the mechanics of what makes diseases tick, more and more genetic tests are coming onto the market to help make sure the right patient gets the right drug at the right time. While these diagnostics can help inform diagnosis and treatment for patients, the sheer volume of these tests may be overwhelming payers in their coverage decisions. Stakeholders should work together to help establish the clinical utility that payers need to make coverage decisions on these diagnostics, industry experts say.

Daryl Pritchard, Ph.D., senior vice president of science policy at the Personalized Medicine Coalition (PMC), describes the landscape of coverage for genetic testing as “uneven. Payers are increasingly considering coverage and reimbursement of genetic testing products and services.” However, he tells AIS Health, a division of MMIT, “there remain significant challenges in establishing coverage policies and payment rates for diagnostic tests that reflect the value of their care. As a result, many newer novel diagnostics are under-reimbursed or not covered at all. Such practices ultimately restrict patient access to some needed tests and to optimal care. Coverage and reimbursement policies vary widely among different payers, and decision-making processes are often inconsistent and not transparent.”

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Prime Studies Reveal Efficacy, Costs of Specialty Agents

Two recently published studies by Prime Therapeutics LLC shine a light on specialty drug costs. In the first, researchers found that a newer agent for cystic fibrosis is effective, but it is so costly that its related savings in health care services avoided do not offset its cost. The second study showed that a focused communication effort for a transition to a preferred infliximab biosimilar, among other strategies, has resulted in millions of dollars in savings in only the first three months after implementation of the strategy.

Posters on the studies were presented at the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP) Nexus meeting.

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Collaboration Is Needed Among Stakeholders for Genetic Tests to Be Beneficial

As researchers gain growing insight into the mechanics of what makes diseases tick, more and more genetic tests are coming onto the market to help make sure the right patient gets the right drug at the right time. While these diagnostics can help inform diagnosis and treatment for patients, the sheer volume of these tests may be overwhelming payers in their coverage decisions. Stakeholders should work together to help establish the clinical utility that payers need to make coverage decisions on these diagnostics, industry experts say.

Daryl Pritchard, Ph.D., senior vice president of science policy at the Personalized Medicine Coalition (PMC), describes the landscape of coverage for genetic testing as “uneven. Payers are increasingly considering coverage and reimbursement of genetic testing products and services.” However, he tells AIS Health, a division of MMIT, “there remain significant challenges in establishing coverage policies and payment rates for diagnostic tests that reflect the value of their care. As a result, many newer novel diagnostics are under-reimbursed or not covered at all. Such practices ultimately restrict patient access to some needed tests and to optimal care. Coverage and reimbursement policies vary widely among different payers, and decision-making processes are often inconsistent and not transparent.”

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