Friday Five - The week in review

Novartis showcases its pipeline

During an R&D event on Monday, Novartis highlighted continued growth opportunities for its blockbuster psoriasis treatment Cosentyx and three key products emerging from its late-stage pipeline; two of which – brolucizumab in age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and canakinumab in myocardial infarction – will move into the regulatory arena with newly enhanced datasets.

Physician Views Poll Results: On paper, Novartis' new CANTOS data is practice changing, but adoption will take time

Physician Views Poll Results: 66 ophthalmologists provide feedback on new Phase III AMD data for brolucizumab

Value-based pricing deals to the fore

Novartis also shone the spotlight on its experimental migraine therapy AMG334, a CGRP inhibitor partnered with Amgen. With the market for these therapies expected to be very competitive – a further three are nearing potential commercialisation – Novartis has suggested only patients who respond sufficiently to treatment may be required to pay for therapy.

The Swiss company leads the way in discussing value-based pricing schemes, although Merck KGaA also recently announced a novel deal for its multiple sclerosis treatment Mavenclad with England's NHS. Watch this space for further agreements of this type – ViewPoints: Merck KGaA brings outcome-based pricing to multiple sclerosis

Innovation in abundance

Sangamo Therapeutics announced that it has treated the first ever patient in an in vivo gene editing study, while Otsuka's oral drug Abilify MyCite was approved by the FDA as the first to include a digital ingestion tracking system.

Novartis demonstrated its commitment to the field of gene editing by announcing a collaboration with Homology Medicines, while Nektar Therapeutics exited last week's SITC meeting the big winner. In the high-bar field of pivotal-stage clinical studies for depression, Sage Therapeutics scored a big – if not flawless – win with brexanolone.

See KOL Views Results: Leading psychiatrist excited about success of Sage’s brexanolone but says commercial penetration uncertain

Bayer targeted a deal with Loxo Oncology to enter the emerging market for mutation-specific (histology agnostic) tumours – ViewPoints: Loxo shareholders underwhelmed by Bayer deal

Even data for Five Prime Therapeutics' cabiralizumab – which initially appeared to disappoint at SITC – may be misunderstood said one oncologist.

Trump flies in ex-Eli Lilly exec to head up HSS

President Trump's nomination of Alex Azar as Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary is something of a head-scratcher, albeit one that may fall in industry's favour. As the recent president of Eli Lilly, Azar is certainly familiar with the ins and outs of the sector and importantly, has experience in the public sector as General Counsel and deputy Secretary for HHS, both under President George W. Bush.

But despite the President's assertion that Azar will be "a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices," there's not any substantial evidence to point towards the executive holding such a position during his industry tenure. Indeed, during his time as president at the company, Eli Lilly implemented multiple US price increases across its insulin portfolio, which contributed to a current 'backlash' in the diabetes market – see ViewPoints: What does the new HHS secretary mean for biopharma? Well, it could be worse

The FDA's productive year

The FDA has now approved more than 40 novel medicines in 2017 and is on track to exceed the 45 it cleared in 2015, and this excludes biologic approvals including two CAR-T therapies. Bringing up this benchmark are Ultragenyx's Mepsevii – approved for the rare condition mucopolysaccharidosis type VII – and AstraZeneca's Fasenra – for severe eosinophilic asthma – Spotlight On: AstraZeneca's five-point plan for Fasenra

Late on Thursday it approved Roche's haemophilia A treatment Hemlibra; albeit with a black box warning for blood clots which sent up shares in competitor Shire by 6 percent.

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