Friday Five – The Pharma Week in Review (9 July 2021)

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Jardiance delivers

Eli Lilly and Boehringer Ingelheim said Tuesday that a Phase III study of the SGLT-2 inhibitor Jardiance (empagliflozin) in patients with chronic heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) met its primary endpoint. Full data will be presented at ESC 2021 next month. 

Eli Lilly noted that HFpEF has been classified as "the single largest unmet need in cardiovascular medicine" based on prevalence, poor outcomes and absence of clinically proven therapies to date. If approved for this indication, Jardiance would become the "first and only clinically proven therapy to improve outcomes for the full spectrum of heart failure patients regardless of ejection fraction," the company added.

A sting in the tail for GSK

GlaxoSmithKline's cancer chief Axel Hoos will step down from his position in August to take up the role of chief executive at Scorpion Therapeutics, the latter company announced Wednesday. The departure of Hoos comes shortly after GlaxoSmithKline unveiled its strategy for growth over the coming decade amidst pressure from shareholders and activist investor Elliott Management.

GlaxoSmithKline had ended the previous week on a more positive note by announcing an in-licensing collaboration with Alector to jointly develop two monoclonal antibodies for a range of neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. The UK drugmaker is eager to build out its pipeline with more aggressive externalisation and Phase II data for the most advanced Alector asset included in this deal is due to be presented later in July.

Looking ahead to the third quarter

GlaxoSmithKline's willingness to pay an initial $700 million to Alector whilst allowing the former to retain some commercialisation rights in the US provides further evidence that Big Pharma is conceding more ground to secure promising drug assets by in-licensing, instead of pursuing M&A deals.

We took a closer look at this and other notable industry trends that may shape Q3 here.

UCB's bimekizumab under the spotlight

UCB’s psoriasis treatment bimekizumab – currently awaiting approval in the US and Europe – may be a latecomer to the anti-IL-17 monoclonal antibody class, but could still become the dominant brand in this segment, a leading expert told FirstWord this week.

Onus will be on UCB to get their market access strategy right, says the KOL, and he is particularly excited about bimekizumab's head-to-head efficacy data and its impact on PASI 100, which has the potential to be a game changer.

AbbVie's Rinvoq poised for AD role in Europe

Uncertainty may surround JAK inhibitors in the US market, where the FDA is conducting an investigation into the safety of this drug class, but a new FirstWord Physician Views poll indicates that most European dermatologists anticipate prescribing AbbVie's Rinvoq for the treatment of moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis once it becomes available.

Late last month, the European Medicines Agency issued a recommendation that Rinvoq be approved for this indication.

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