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Fierce Pharma Asia—Takeda’s AbbVie drug supply lawsuit, Novavax’ COVID vaccine deal; Juno, WuXi’s CAR-T nod

September 10, 2021 Angus Liu


AbbVie has failed in its legal bid to force Takeda to meet its Lupron supply agreement. The Japanese government has agreed to purchase 150 million doses of Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine, to be manufactured by Takeda. JW Therapeutics has won approval for relma-cel as China’s second CAR-T therapy. And more.

1. No dice: Court tells AbbVie it can’t force Takeda to supply a drug that’s in shortage worldwide

AbbVie sued Takeda, hoping to force the Japanese pharma to fulfill its supply obligations around Lupron, a hormone drug used to treat cancer and other diseases. The drug started running scarce after the FDA slapped a warning letter last June on a Takeda plant in Hikari, Japan that was making the product. But a court denied AbbVie’s request.

2. After Moderna contamination mess, Takeda strikes deal with Japan to supply Novavax COVID-19 vaccines

Meanwhile, Takeda put a purchase number to its COVID-19 vaccine licensing and production deal with Novavax. The Japanese government agreed to buy 150 million doses of Novavax’s in-development NVX-CoV2373, an adjuvanted protein-based shot. The news came as Moderna’s mRNA vaccine faces contamination issues in the country.

3. With approval for China’s 2nd CAR-T therapy, Juno, WuXi joint venture goes up against Gilead and Fosun’s Yescarta

China has approved a CD19 CAR-T therapy made by JW Therapeutics, a joint venture between Bristol Myers Squibb’s Juno Therapeutics and WuXi AppTec. The drug, dubbed relma-cel, uses the same CD19-targeting CAR construct as Bristol’s Breyanzi but is made with a different manufacturing process. The nod came about two months after Fosun Pharma and Gilead Sciences’ Yescarta became the first CAR-T approved in the country.

4. Kyowa Kirin to pay AM-Pharma up to $289M in licensing deal for Pfizer-rejected sepsis asset

Kyowa Kirin is paying €245 million—including upfront and milestone payments—for exclusive rights to AM-Pharma’s phase 3 sepsis candidate ilofotase alfa. Pfizer previously walked away from the drug by declining an option to buy out AM-Pharma in 2018. The drug showed promising kidney function results in a phase 2 trial, but Pfizer still didn’t like its prospects.

5. Citius buys out license to Ontak replacement from Dr. Reddy’s for $40M

Eisai developed the blood cancer drug Remitoro (E7777) to replace Ontak, which was pulled from the market in 2014 thanks to manufacturing challenges. Dr. Reddy’s gained ex-Asia rights in 2016, and now the Indian pharma has sold its stake to Citius Pharmaceuticals for $40 million. The drug in March won Japanese approval in relapsed or refractory cutaneous and peripheral T-cell lymphoma.

6. Insilico puts undruggable cancer targets in its crosshairs with Huadong alliance

Chinese drugmaker Huadong Medicine has partnered with artificial intelligence drug discovery shop Insilico Medicine to find molecules against otherwise undruggable cancer targets. Insilico has unveiled multiple alliances this year.

7. Genome of South Korea gains CDMO capability and drug material insurance with $27M purchase of List Labs

Genome & Company paid $27 million to buy a 60% share in California-based drug manufacturer List Biological Laboratories. Genome CEO Bae ji-soo said the move was to ensure it had a steady supply of materials for its development of microbiome-based therapies. The Korean company’s lead program, GEN-001, is being tested alongside PD-1/L1 inhibitors in solid tumors.



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