Tag: Boehringer Ingelheim
Company News: biocrea and Boehringer Ingelheim Conclude Asset Purchase Agreement
biocrea today announced the completion of an asset purchase and licensing deal with Boehringer Ingelheim. Under the terms of the agreement, biocrea will receive an undisclosed payment and will transfer the exclusive global rights for certain research programs originating from its phosphodiesterase (PDE) platform to Boehringer Ingelheim. This includes biocrea´s PDE2 inhibitors and its most advanced compound BCA909.
“This transaction marks a key milestone in the evolution of biocrea, which was created only about a year ago,” said Tom Kronbach, CEO of biocrea. ”Importantly, this deal demonstrates our ability to identify and validate disease-relevant novel mechanisms of action for which we create high-quality drug candidates. The proceeds from this agreement will allow us to implement our strategy to build a sustainable company over the next several years.”
Food for Thought: Trade Media Update
MedNous this week opens up with an article on FDA’s revoking the breast cancer indication for Avastin, saying that the decision did not come as a surprise after the FDA’s Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee (ODAC) in June voted unanimously to have the indication removed. Avastin had been subject to FDA’s accelerated approval process in this indication.
In contrast, BioCentury Extra reports that FDA encouraged Genentech Inc to continue to study the drug in this indication to identify patients who may benefit and also details Genentech’s plans for Avastin in this indication. It also writes that in the previous months, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) continued to recommend Avastin as an option in breast cancer despite the negative ODAC vote.
The In Vivo Blog comments on the Avastin decision by saying that it introduced some predictability into the accelerated approval regulatory pathway. Companies should continue to use progression-free survival as a surrogate endpoint but not forget to that FDA has some expectations, e.g. for quality of life benefits, and that sponsors should design trials with supportive measures that can themselves turn into additional claims.
BioCentury this week in its cover story reports on the next-generation, interferon-free treatment regimes for HCV which have been in the focus of the recent Liver Meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD), stating that the new standard of care introduced only this year following the approval of two HCV protease inhibitors, may be supplanted quickly by new regimes that are tailored to virus subtypes and patient populations.
SciBx is focusing on novel small molecule inhibitors of Monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL), which regulates the levels of several compounds that signal through the endocannabinoid pathway. However, now that researchers have shown that it MAGL inhibitors reduce neuroinflammation, there is increased interest in the industry in these inhibitors. MAGL also is explored as a cancer target as reported by Derek Lowe in its “In the Pipeline” blog.
SCRIP this week deals with plans of the French health ministry to collect more than €290 million for the pharmaceutical industry in 2012 to reduce health care spending. In addition, it reports on plans to widening the tax on pharmaceutical industry promotion.In its editorial, SCRIP focuses on German media trying to scandalize the deaths attributed to Boehringer Ingelheim’s Pradaxa drug (see the akampioneer).
Food for Thought: Boehringer Ingelheim Puts Pradaxa Cards on the Table
When German pharma company Boehringer Ingelheim on November 12 said that 260 cases of fatal bleeding have been linked to its new stroke prevention pill Pradaxa, the figures were taken up by many media as evidence that Pradaxa dabigatran, which was launched in Europe in September this year, was a dangerous drug.
In a courageous move, Boehringer Ingelheim yesterday released detailed data from the drug safety database, data that are usually submitted to regulatory agencies only.
Now that the figures are out, several media have taken up the issue again to put it into perspective. Hartmut Wewetzer in Der Tagesspiegel writes that every drug inhibiting blood coagulation poses the risk of bleeding. Wewetzer cites Christoph Bode, a heart specialist from University Clinic Freiburg, as saying that Pradaxa is lowering the risk of fatal bleeding in the brain to 25%, which is a superior value compared to vitamin K antagonists such as Marcumar and Warfarin, the therapeutic standard of previous decades.
Wewetzer also features Boehringer’s calculation that – based on current data – Pradaxa each year can prevent 3,490 of 4,500 stroke cases among 100,000 patients with atrial fibrillation, but may cause 230 cases of fatal bleeding. In comparison, Warfarin is causing 330 deaths. Based on the sum total treatment duration of Pradaxa, which amounts to 410,000 patient years since market authorization, Pradaxa is causing 63 fatal cases among 100,000 patients and year, much less than the figures to be expected from the clinical study data.
Martina Lenzen-Schulte in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) states that the figures reported do not constitute a scandal: “For one, it is in the nature of things that application of blood thinners can cause severe and sometimes fatal bleedings. And the bigger the number of patients treated, the more such complications are to be seen. … Second, it has to be asked whether the incidence of fatal bleedings following dabigatran administration is within the expected limits and – more importantly – whether conventional anticoagulants would have performed better.”
In her article “Deadly Speculations” Lenzen-Schulte also makes clear that competitors are often keen to scandalize side effects of novel drugs and mentions Bayer’s cholesterol-lowering drug cerivastatin as an example. Cerivastatin was withdrawn from the market by Bayer in 2001 following reports of fatal rhabdomyolysis. These cases mostly were due to combination with fibrate drugs – despite warnings on the label.
“It amounts to incapacitation, if one believes that patients always have to be dictated what it best for them”, she writes. “It would be better to put one’s cards on the table and let the patient decide what he wants and what not.”
Boehringer Ingelheim certainly has been quick to do just this, so that patients now can make an informed decision.
Food for Thought: Innovation on Trial
Germany’s new Law on the Reorganization of the Pharmaceutical Market (AMNOG), which came into force January 1 this year, has substantially changed the rules for the introduction of new medicines on the German market. The akampioneer already has reported on the novel regulations and procedures – now it is time to look at the consequences AMNOG has had already.
Since the beginning of 2011, 18 dossiers for the required benefit assessment have been filed with the Federal Joint Committee G-BA, the highest decision-making body of the joint self-government of physicians, dentists, hospitals and health insurance funds in Germany. G-BA is then assessing the “additional patient-related benefit” of a novel drug, either itself or by assigning Germany’s Institute for Quality and Efficacy in Health Care (IQWiG). If G-BA identifies an additional benefit, the umbrella organization for the statutory health insurance funds and the pharmaceutical company negotiate the reimbursement price as a discount on the original selling price within six months. If negotiations fail to reach an agreement, an arbitration commission defines the reimbursement price using the European price level as a standard.
Most cases are still pending. In one of the 18 cases (the statin pitavastatin marketed by Merckle Recordati in Germany) , the manufacturer itself requested the drug to become reimbursed under the fixed price system. In two cases, marketing was halted in Germany by the manufacturer following a negative G-BA assessment: Boehringer Ingelheim and Eli Lilly decided not to market linagliptin, a DPP4 inhibitor for the treatment of type II diabetes; the companies think G-BA chose the wrong therapy for comparison and assessment of the additional benefit.
Novartis removed Rasilamlo from the market, effective September 1. The oral drug is a combination of aliskiren and amlodipine, which was approved in April this year for the treatment of high blood pressure patients not adequately controlled by either aliskiren or amlodipine alone. The company could not get to terms with G-BA on the data required for the assessment of the additional patient-related benefit.
The decision not to market a drug in Germany if the assessment is negative and the setting of a low price is imminent certainly reduces sales; on the other hand it prevents the setting of a lower price in other European countries that use Germany’s drug prices as reference.
The first completed assessment regards AstraZeneca’s platelet aggregation inhibitor ticagrelor, which was approved in December 2010 for the prevention of thrombotic events in patients with acute coronary syndrome or myocardial infarction with ST elevation, and is intended to be used in combination with acetyl salicylic acid (ASS). G-BA had assigned IQWiG with an assessment that deviated from the design of the studies used for approval and from the comparator therapy G-BA originally had agreed upon with the manufacturer. For approval, the drug had been compared to clopidogrel (plus ASS). IQWiG, however, defined subgroups and compared ticagrelor plus ASS with clopidogrel plus ASS in patients with unstable angina pectoris and myocardial infarction (with and without ST elevation) and prasugrel plus ASS as a comparator for patients with ST elevation, which had received a coronary bypass or a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) .
As a result, G-BA ruled that the drug has an additional benefit only in patients with myocardial infarction without ST elevation and in patients with unstable angina pectoris. In these cases, G-BA sees a moderate additional benefit. IQWiG had stated that the data provided by the manufacturer to support efficacy in patients with ST elevation did not sufficiently prove additional benefit in this subgroup.
While it certainly is a good idea to ask whether a novel drug not only meets regulatory requirements but also translates into patient benefit, the process of assessing this benefit and the degree of improvement as compared to existing therapies is a mess in Germany.
One important point is transparency. The crucial selection of the comparative therapy for the assessment takes place behind closed doors in G-BA’s pharmaceutical subcommittee. G-BA does not even disclose the subcommittee’s members – however, it is known that the members are picked from the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians and from the Statutory Healthcare System. The cheaper the comparative therapy chosen, the bigger is the hurdle to meet the cost/benefit ratio.
Second, as compared to the NICE procedure in the UK as an example, manufacturers are not involved in the process once it has started (except that they may be asked to submit more data), and if they are not happy with a decision the only possible procedural intervention is taking G-BA to court. Otherwise, they may wait for a year after which they can file an application for submitting novel data – which may be granted by G-BA or not.
Third, it is often very difficult to prove an additional benefit of an innovative medication immediately – except maybe for an antibiotic. Therapies for chronic diseases lead to measurable improvements often in the long or medium run only, and regulatory studies often are not large or long enough to meet the strict “evidence-based” criteria of IQWiG and G-BA. In addition, elderly patients often suffer from multiple diseases, making an assessment even more difficult.
Last not least, for the reference price system the devil is in the details. Will all European countries, including the poor economies of the former communist countries in Southeastern Europe, be included – or only the richer economies of the old European heartland?
All in all, the new regulations already have led to a slowing-down of novel drugs reaching the German market – a development that IQWiG’s new director Juergen Windeler in a recent interview declared as “expected”. He might as well have said “welcomed” as he added that of the about 60,000 drugs on the market in Germany, 95% were dispensable: “Experience shows that good medical care is possible with 2,000 to 3,000 drugs only.”