NICE Rejects Gilead Sciences’ Yescarta on Cost Concerns

The United Kingdom’s government-funded health service isn’t being so nice to Gilead Sciences’ CAR-T blood cancer treatment Yescarta. The country’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) said the therapy is too expensive for the agency to justify. The announcement by the U.K. agency came one day after Yescarta (axicabtagene ciloleucel) received approval from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for use across the European Union. Yescarta is the first CAR-T treatment in Europe to be approved for two types of aggressive non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. In the United States, treatment with Yescarta has a list price of about $373,000. It was first approved in the U.S. in October 2017.

Sierra Oncology Acquires Gilead’s Stalled Myelofibrosis Drug Momelotinib

Sierra has acquired the drug, momelotinib, from Gilead, for $3 million up front. The deal adds a late-stage drug candidate to Sierra’s pipeline of early-stage cancer drugs. Meanwhile, Gilead, gains a way to salvage something from the $510 million acquisition of YM Biosciences in 2012, which brought it momelotinib. If Sierra can bring the drug to the market, Gilead stands to gain as much as $195 million in milestone payments, plus royalties from sales.

Evotec and Novo Nordisk Ink Deal to Develop Drugs for Obesity and Diabetes

Months after partnering with Sanofi on infectious diseases, Evotec has formed another significant partnership with Novo Nordisk. The two companies will combine their forces to develop treatments for diabetes, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and other diseases. Evotec will apply its ligand-based drug discovery design program to select safe and efficacious products that can then be used to address diabetes and associated morbidities. When the preclinical candidates are selected, Novo Nordisk will use the German company’s INDiGo platform to take those preclinical candidates into the clinic. Novo Nordisk has a successful track record and proven leadership in developing treatments for diabetes and obesity. Evotec did not disclose any financial details of the agreement with Novo Nordisk.