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Tag Archives: Teva

Biotech Trends in 2011: Biosimilars

In our original post on biosimilars, Lumira Capital’s Beni Rovinski set out the business opportunities, the technical challenges and the regulatory hurdles facing follow-on biologics in 2009. Since then, as Beni predicted, a series of pharma deals have followed Merck’s Insimed acquisition, and the regulatory framework in North America has been clarified substantially, with final Health Canada guidance having been issued and the the U.S. BCPI Act working its way through the FDA’s rule-making process.

The biosimilars market has also evolved in a couple of unexpected ways: 

  1. Teva decided not to wait for a distinct U.S. biosimilars pathway, and instead submitted a full BLA for Neupoval (which was accepted). Although Neupoval’s approval is now delayed, with the 12-year exclusivity period in the BCPI Act far exceeding similar periods in the EU and Canada, more companies may follow Teva’s approach instead of navigating the U.S. biosimilar regime.
  2. At the JP Morgan conference last week, the CEO’s of Amgen and Biogen Idec, two companies that have been built on innovator biologics, both openly discussed their own plans to produce biosimilars. Although Amgen’s Sharer said the company “should participate in an intelligent way without disturbing the core business,” and was looking to Asian and Latin American markets, Biogen Idec’s Scangos said flatly that “[t]he next decade will be about access and cost as much as it is about innovation,” and that biosimilars are “a low risk way to generate substantial revenue.”

As the regulatory and business environments continue to evolve, we’ll continue to keep an eye on the latest developments.

This post is the fourth in a series briefly outlining the biotech industry trends we’ve been following on the blog and noting some recent developments, plus directions for 2011.

Approval Pathway for Biosimilars and Interchangeable Biological Products: Issues from the FDA’s Public Hearing

On November 2nd and 3rd the FDA held a public hearing to address the challenges it will face in the implementation of the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009 (BPCI Act). This act established an abbreviated pathway for follow-on biologics (a.k.a. biosimilars) that are either “highly similar” or “interchangeable” with previously approved biologics. Many industry stakeholders were in attendance to voice their opinion on the matter including Pfizer, Roche, Merck, Novo Nordisk, Novartis, Amgen, Shire, and TEVA, amongst others. I tuned into these webcasts to extract the salient areas of debate. Read more of this post

Biotech Trends Update: Teva’s BLA for Neupoval is Accepted at the FDA

Teva’s decision last year to submit a full biologic license application (BLA) for Neupoval looks positively prescient today.  Teva’s product is already sold in the EU as a biosimilar to Amgen’s Neupogen, but a U.S. biosimilars pathway is stalled along with the rest of health reform and today, the FDA accepted Teva’s BLA, clearing the way for a review of Teva’s clinical data and potentially for approval of the product.

FDA approval isn’t Teva’s only hurdle, though.  Amgen’s U.S. patents on Neupogen don’t expire until 2013, and the two companies are currently litigating the issue of whether Teva’s product infringes those patents.  Furthermore, the Dow Jones article quotes Credit Suisse analyst Michael Aberman who points out that in the EU Teva’s product only has 5% market share, competing against both the original Neupogen and Amgen’s longer-acting Neulasta.

Investors’ reaction? Teva shares were up 1.4 percent, Amgen shares were off minutely.

My bottom line: If you want to read tea-leaves to predict the approach other biosimilar products will take (and I do), watch the Neupoval BLA closely.  The calculus undertaken by other potential market entrants will weigh Teva’s success and costs with this approach against the costs of any Congressional requirement for data exclusivity period and any FDA requirement for clinical trials in an eventual biosimilars regime.

Follow our coverage of North American biosimilars news on this Biotech Trends in 2010 page.

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Biotech Trends Update — IP Constituencies: Innovators and Generics Continue to Blur Pharma Lines

Two stories noted by the WSJ’s Health Blog highlight the trend we’ve been following of blurring lines between branded/innovator pharma and generics companies:

The biggest development I’d cite is Pfizer’s deal to sell 40 generics made by India’s Strides Arcolab and South Africa’s Aspen.  This deal seems to go a step farther than other innovator/branded deals with generics in that it treads on U.S. soil.  The Pfizer Established Products Business Unit has in-licensed more than 200 products and has an overall portfolio of approximately 600.

“Generics” companies are not sticking to their traditional role either.  Noting Teva’s projected growth and market cap, Jacob Goldstein says that “[i]t’s no longer correct to think of generics manufacturers as scrappy little competitors nipping at the heels of big pharma,” especially where 30% of their revenue comes from branded drugs. 

Add those to increasing innovation in India and China and in collaborations with companies there, and the whole global industry is starting to look a bit more homogeneous.

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Monday Biotech Deal Review: December 21, 2009

This week’s deal review shows no signs of a holiday showdown.  In Canada, BioMS’ deal with Spectral Diagnostics was interesting as a possible indicator of more to come and internationally, 5 new pharma deals were announced this morning including a $430 million deal that OncoGenex landed from Teva joining new links between Athersys and Pfizer, Lilly and Incyte, sanofi-aventis and Chattem and Seattle Genetics and GSK.  Check out the past week’s Canadian deal-making (and breaking) after the jump…

Friday Science Review: October 16, 2009

A mixed bag of research reports but nonetheless important and significant…

How MS Drug Works: Glatiramir Acetate (COPAXONE®, Teva Pharmaceuticals) is used for the treatment of patients with Multiple Sclerosis, however, it is not clear how this drug works.  In this new study, researchers demonstrate that glatiramir acetate can regulate the formation of myelin, the protective sheath around nerve fibers that is compromised in MS patients.  Glatiramir acetate induces the formation of helper immune cells that produce nerve promoting molecules, which in turn stimulate the myelin repair process. The study was led by Dr. V. Wee Yong at the University of Calgary and appears in this week’s issue of The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

New Target to Fight Diabetes: In genetic knockouts of the Lkb1 gene specifically in beta cells, the insulin producing units in the pancreas, the knockout mice exhibited an increased number of beta cells that were also larger than normal with greater amounts of insulin.  When they challenged the knockout mice with a high-fat diet to try to induce diabetes, the mice responded and kept blood glucose levels down.  Lkb1 is a tumor suppressor gene that was also known to be involved in energy metabolism but it was unclear whether the Lkb1 protein was associated with diabetes.  Dr. Robert Screaton’s group at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute answered this question in a report appearing in this week’s Cell Metabolism.  Also noteworthy is that a research team from Israel published a similar study leading to the same conclusions.  With these surprising and dramatic results, Lkb1 may represent another therapeutic avenue to treat or prevent diabetes.

Sialyltransferase Crystal Structure Solved: Many important proteins, lipids or sugars are modified by the addition of sialic acid and these steps are essential for a number of processes including cell recognition, cell adhesion and immunogenicity.  The key enzyme responsible for catalyzing this reaction is a set of related sialyltransferases (ST).  In a Nature Structural and Molecular Biology report published this week, Dr. Natalie Strynadka (University of British Columbia) describes solving the crystal structure of ST and provides the first detailed understanding of the enzyme.  Without getting into any molecular jargon, suffice it to say that the structural data brings insight into how the enzyme works and how it achieves specificity, which is useful knowledge for developing prospective inhibitors.

Power of Pheromones: Researchers removed the pheromone-producing cells in fruit flies (male or female) and found that these flies were extremely attractive to normal male fruit flies and also flies of other related species.  This contradicts the notion that these chemical signals simply attract one individual to another.  Instead, they are part of a complex signaling system used by the flies to recognize and distinguish sexes and species.  Other unusual behaviour by male fruit flies without pheromones included trying to copulate with each other’s heads.  Dr. Joel Levine and his team at the University of Toronto (Mississauga) describe their research in detail in this week’s edition of Nature.

Beta-globin Switch: A proteomics screen was used to identify the enzyme G9a as the interacting partner of NF-E2, which act together to control expression of the beta-globin genes in red blood cell development.  This study provides a clearer understanding of the molecular determinants controlling embryonic expression of beta-globin where G9a acts as a repressor and its transition to adult beta-globin expression where G9a promotes expression.  The research team at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute was lead by Dr. Marjorie Brand and the study appears in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Trends in 2009: Shifting IP Constituencies as Innovator Pharma Buys Generics and Asia Turns to Innovation

Growing industrial and geopolitical realignment of economic interests has the potential to re-define intellectual property constituencies in 2009.

1.  Industrial realignment: the entry of innovator pharma companies into the generics business.

This year has already seen Merck get into follow-on biologics by buying Insimed and Pfizer build its generics business with its Aurobindo deal.  As traditional innovator pharma companies become more invested in follow-on biologics and small molecule generics, they will have a greater (self-)interest in a functioning subsequent entry pathway. 

Watch how this is playing out in the follow-on biologics arena as two competing FOB bills make their way through Congress.  Right now, the 12-year exclusivity period in the Eshoo-Barton FOB bill and the 5-year exclusivity period in Waxman’s FOB bill are duking it out, and we’re already seeing increased industry flexibility.  Innovator pharma has historically insisted on a 14-year exclusivity period to accompany follow-on biologics legislation, but BIO has already indicated some willingness to support Eshoo-Barton, as has PhRMA

Dani’s the expert, but my layman’s guess is that we get a FOB pathway this time around, and that the exclusivity number lands somewhere in the 8-10 year range.  This is consistent with a Teva-promoted analysis and it’s easy to see that it covers the arithmetic middle ground.

2.  Geopolitical realignment: increasing innovative activity in Asia, which has historically focused more on generics.

In China, a recent deal between Lotus Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (OTCBB: LTUS) and Beijing Yipuan Bio-Medical Technology Co., Ltd. (“Yipuan”) to acquire the drug Yipubishan points to China’s interest in promoting innovation.  Yipubishan, which is used to treat the symptoms of gastric ulcers and hemorrhages of the upper digestive tract, was partly funded through the use of grants from the Innovation Fund for Small – Medium Technology Based Firms of the Ministry of Science and Technology of the PRC.  Yipubishan became the first prescription drug of its kind developed in China to be included in the National Torch Project, which recognizes and promotes commercialization of high-tech discoveries and encourages companies to use high technology.  The Torch Project is one of a series of PRC Science and Technology initiatives.

In India, Wockhardt’s pioneering efforts in biotechnology are among many signs of increasing innovative activity, and have attracted interest from Pfizer and Sanofi.  Wockhardt has set up a global-scale biopharmaceuticals manufacturing powerhouse, the Wockhardt Biotech Park, in Aurangabad, India. This state-of-the-art complex comprises six dedicated, manufacturing facilities, and is designed according to US FDA and EMEA standards. It will also house new biotechnology products that are currently in various stages of development. The complex has the capacity to cater to 10-15% of global demand for major biopharmaceuticals.

India and China are in the 3rd quintile of countries in the 2009 IPRI Report, with India ranking 46/115 and China ranking 68/115 but they are steadily increasing their innovative activity. 

Within a short span, I would expect them to rank more like Israel, which has a world-class innovative industry as well as a strong generics industry (Teva), or Taiwan, which recently announced an initiative to boost cleantech and biotech.  Both Israel and Taiwan are ranked 29/115 in the 2009 IPRI Report. 

Wednesday Brain Dump: March 11, 2009

Regulatory Brain Dump…

Regulating Nanotech:  The FDA is collaborating with the Houston-based Alliance for NanoHealth (ANH) and its eight member institutions to expand knowledge of how nanoparticles behave and affect biologic systems.  Results will be placed in the public domain.

Regulating Natural Health Products: Health Canada launched the first phase of Online Solution, a secure online system for regulating natural health products in Canada.

Not Waiting for Regulation: Like Teva’s decision in February, Momenta Pharmaceuticals doesn’t think it needs to wait for a follow-on biologics pathway.  It’s proceeding with its application (presumably still a BLA) for a generic version of Lovenox, and unlike Teva, Momenta doesn’t think the FDA will require human trials for its product.

Commissioning Regulation:  A number of reports, including the In Vivo Blog and the WSJ Health Blog have been pointing to the nomination of Margaret Hamburg as FDA Commissioner, with Joshua Sharfstein as deputy.

Self-Regulation:

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Wednesday Brain Dump: February 25, 2009

The question this week: a shot in the arm or a kick in the teeth?

A shot in the arm for:

  • Fewer shots in the arm! (har) 
    • British Columbia is the first jurisdiction in North America to offer a children’s vaccine called Infanrix-hexa™, which contains six immunizations in one, resulting in three fewer needles in the overall B.C. infant vaccine schedule, and
    • With the discovery of a constant region of flu virus protein hemagglutinin, a universal flu vaccine may be possible (no more yearly shots);
  • The Naval Surface Warfare Center in White Oak, a suburb of Washington, where the FDA is spending $1.15 billion to consolidate its offices and labs and to anchor a new biotech hub;
  • Pine Island, near Rochester, Minnesota, which could soon be the home to a new biotech research, development and manufacturing park with the help of up to $900 million in funding reportedly pledged by Steve Burrill.  Funding announcements also from Maryland and Pittsburgh;
  • Sustainable agriculture, when the White House announced its nominee for second-in-command at USDA: Kathleen Merrigan of Tufts University, who had been a top choice of the Cornucopia Institute to run USDA’s National Organic Program;
  • The National Science Foundation, from the stimulus (a $3 billion boost) and the budget (a 6.7% increase, to $6.49 billion);
  • Multiple Sclerosis, with Merck, Novartis, Teva, Biogen Idec and Sanofi Aventis all planning to release new oral therapeutics between now and 2012;
  • Conflict of interest disclosure, with a new editorial in PLoS Medicine;
  • Deterrence, with the arrest of four animal-rights extremists;
  • Organ failure biomarkers,
    • with the discovery of liver toxicity-associated MicroRNAs, and
    • with the injection by Pfizer Canada of $1 million to the PROOF Centre to fund research into vital organ failure biomarkers; and
  • Aliens.

A kick in the teeth for:

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Teva Decides Not to Wait for U.S. Biosimilars Legislation

In Beni’s post earlier this week on Biosimilars, he identified two major challenges to introducing follow-on biologics into the North American market: technical proficiency, and the absence of a regulatory regime.

Based on the approval of Teva’s biosimilar version of Neupogen in the EU last September, Teva has evidently cleared the first hurdle (and their joint venture with Lonza means their technical capabilities will only increase).

Yesterday, Teva announced that they were not waiting for a Biosimilars regime to be enacted before entering the U.S. market, and instead will take on the extra cost of filing a full BLA for their version of the biologic.

Does this mean we don’t need a biosimilars regime to get biosimilars to market?  Teva itself takes a different position.

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