Dec 7

Business Cocktail

AbbVie aims for best-in-class psoriasis prospect

The last few years have seen a wave of new biologics take the psoriasis market by storm. But a best-in-class product may still be on its way. AbbVie prospect risankizumab showed it could bring 47% of patients to complete skin clearance by week 16 of treatment in a phase 3 study, topping placebo, which hit that benchmark in just 1% of patients. And of those who did achieve clear or almost clear skin, 87% were still in that group at the one-year mark. The AbbVie wannabe produced a slightly higher proportion of patients hitting key benchmarks on the skin-clearance scale, and with less-frequent dosing than the J&J product, Tremfya. if risankizumab can really pass Tremfya to become the “preferred” med in its class, sales forecast predict $1.2 billion in risk-adjusted peak sales for 2026, with just in the psoriasis indication alone.

Amid US market decline, Novartis looks at offloading its generic pills business

The market for generic pills has gotten so bad in the U.S. that Novartis is thinking about selling off its oral solids business there, outgoing CEO Joseph Jimenez has told analysts. The question of whether the Swiss drugmaker would ever spin off its Sandoz generics business came up during a conversation that Bernstein analysts had last week with Jimenez and drug development chief Vas Narasimhan. Novartis still likes the generics business outside the U.S., where he said biosimilars have given Sandoz a leading position, but it is thinking about exiting the oral solids portion of this business in the U.S. as that market continues to deteriorate. Given that the price erosion looks to continue for some time, Sandoz is concentrating on biosimilars and complex generics, where product differentiation can provide some pricing leverage.

J&J, Bayer lose first Xarelto case, hit with $28M verdict

After three wins in cases over the risks of blockbuster blood thinner Xarelto, Bayer and Johnson & Johnson have encountered their first defeat. A jury in Philadelphia ordered the drugmakers to pay $28 million to plaintiff Lynn Hartman, but the companies plan to appeal. But J&J and Bayer contend that Xarelto’s label does disclose its risks. The company faces thousands more liability cases, 21,400 in fact, according to J&J’s most recent quarterly filing. About 1,400 are pending in Philadelphia. First approved by the FDA in 2011, Xarelto was Bayer’s top-selling drug last year at $3.24 billion and ranked third for J&J at $2.5 billion in sales.

Depomed sells off Nucynta, and cuts 40% workforce to reduce costs

Depomed is selling off the franchise that was once the center of its growth hopes, and plenty of the company’s employees are leaving with it. Less than three years after shelling out $1.05 billion to acquire Nucynta ER and XR from Johnson & Johnson, the California drugmaker has licensed the meds to Collegium Pharmaceutical for just $10 million upfront. For the first four years of the pact, Depomed will receive a minimum of $135 million in royalties each year, and after that, that minimum will disappear. The switch will also save the company some cash, though: It’s slashing its pain salesforce and all brand spending on the franchise, taking SG&A costs down by $70 million each year. The transaction will also ‘improve’ Depomed’s 2018 earnings outlook, it said, though ‘details are unclear’.

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