Chances are you’ve been hit by the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which infects nearly everyone by the age of 2 and usually reinfects exposed people throughout their lifetimes. While most healthy people experience mild to moderate cold-like symptoms, RSV can also cause severe infections. It has earned notoriety as the leading cause of hospital stays for newborns, and RSV-associated infections in infants cause up to 200,000 deaths per year worldwide in developed countries.
With only limited, supportive treatments to help patients with RSV, scientists at Monogram Biosciences, Inc. (part of the LabCorp Specialty Testing Group) recently examined ways to help sponsors develop an RSV vaccine or antiviral medication that can treat or even prevent this illness. Continue reading
The approval of novel orphan drug designations continues to grow, while many existing rare disease therapies are receiving approval for expanded indications. With this increase and broadening class of products, including some that target the same mutation or molecular defect, sponsors face new and significant market access challenges in securing reimbursement.
Leading manufacturers increasingly employ stakeholder research early in development to better identify the needs of patients and providers. This strategy can build in compelling asset value during development, help avoid pitfalls and better inform go/no-go decisions earlier to avoid costly development delays or even dead-ends. Continue reading
The Development Landscape for Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis Q&A
Q&A with Claudia Filozof, MD, PhD, Senior Medical Director in the Phase II-IV Cardiovascular/Metabolic Group and Richard Williams, PhD, JD, Executive Strategist, Global Regulatory Affairs
Is this a good time to develop a NASH drug, and if so, why?
Claudia: Yes, it’s a very good time. There are multiple companies starting NASH development, and there is a huge unmet medical need with no treatment approved so far. Health authorities also have shown a lot of interest in supporting companies to speed up development. If you have the right compound, there are multiple advantages to starting a NASH program.
Richard: The cost to society will be enormous if we can’t treat this disease. I think most pharmaceutical companies, big and small, see this as a substantial unmet medical need. With this unmet medical need, regulatory agencies can grant conditional approval (accelerated approval in the US), where the drug is approved for marketing with the condition that the company later shows it has a clinical benefit based on clinical outcomes. Continue reading
To enter the rapidly growing mobile health space, companies must overcome the crucial hurdle of validation. This process demonstrates that the app – in combination with the underlying technology platform / device – performs comparably to traditional products on the market, ensuring that patients and providers can rely on the output to make appropriate medical decisions.
Mobile health apps offer functions ranging from data collection to running algorithms, and underlying all of those features is the need for a quality system. To show that their product is reliable, developers need to take a variety of measurements, confirm that data transmission and analysis work correctly and test the app on multiple devices. Continue reading
Among the regulatory pathways for small molecule drugs in the United States, the 505(b)(2) option occupies a middle ground. Intended for modifications of an existing treatment, it requires much more evidence than a generic but allows the sponsor to use data from a previous application. Companies can thus avoid unnecessarily repeating studies and shorten their development time.
At a recent Covance clinical seminar in Shanghai, attendees learned about the intricacies of 505(b)(2), the corresponding hybrid medicinal product pathway in the European Union and the differences from applications for biosimilars or generics. Developers in the Asia Pacific region are eager to better understand this topic because the Chinese pharmaceutical industry is developing rapidly with support from the government. “They view 505(b)(2) as a potentially faster way to market,” said Eric Lang, MD, Vice President and Global Head of Clinical Drug Development Leaders, Early Phase Development Solutions. To succeed, however, sponsors will need to consult with experts who can help them develop a regulatory strategy and consider market access issues as well. Continue reading
As any drug developer knows, clinical trials generate a lot of raw and electronic data from multiple sources. Yet tracking progress and reviewing results from each separate database can be cumbersome in traditional environments. This “rear-view” mirror approach to monitoring doesn’t support preventative planning to mitigate future risks and can account for 20-30% of a trial’s costs.
Recognizing the opportunity increase efficiency and deliver information faster, Covance created Xcellerate® Monitoring, a platform that integrates clinical trial data to help sponsors proactively decrease the inherent risks associated with clinical trials.
At a recent clinical seminar in China, Dimitris Agrafiotis, PhD, Vice President, Chief Data Officer discussed how Xcellerate Monitoring tracks quality, patient safety and protocol compliance in clinical trials. Continue reading
Drug development in China is progressing quickly, due in part to shifting regulations, increased innovation and growing opportunities for global partnerships. However, making the most of market opportunities requires not only a focus on the intended end results but also careful, early phase planning. At a recent clinical seminar in China, a panel of Covance market access experts shared their thoughts on how to increase a product’s commercial potential.
Incorporating a business case
“In China, we discussed the theme of ‘beginning with the end in mind,’” said Eric Lang, MD, Vice President and Global Head of Clinical Development Leaders, Early Phase Development Solutions. “We find that a lot of biopharmaceuticals are focused more on the science of their treatment and don’t realize that they also need a strong business case to develop a product,” he said. Continue reading
Chinese biopharmaceuticals are expanding development beyond generics to focus on producing more personalized medicine, novel therapies, biomarkers and companion diagnostics. Steven Anderson, PhD, chief scientific officer at Covance, recently discussed his thoughts on biomarkers and precision medicine in China’s drug development and translational medicine landscape.
An emerging focus on biomarkers
“Efficacy of a drug therapy can vary widely and adverse effects can be common, but these parameters are not easily predicted,” explained Anderson. “That’s why biomarker-based, targeted treatments can guide therapy decision-making and better identify those individuals most likely to benefit.”
Our industry is witnessing increasing growth in the rare disease market, thanks to financial and regulatory incentives to develop orphan drugs. This has been good news for both sponsors and patients, but the fact remains that rare disease trials are inherently challenging to run. In addition, completing a complex study and reaching regulatory approval does not necessarily translate to market success.
John D. McDermott, Jr., Vice President of Covance Market Access Services, recently shared his insights on the market access challenges in rare disease drug development and discussed key considerations for sponsors and stakeholders.
Provide early education about the disease
Even though rare diseases as a whole are getting more attention, sponsors cannot assume that their potential payers know much about the particular condition they are targeting and its importance to patients. Continue reading
Rare diseases affect more than 350 million people worldwide but patients often face limited options for approved therapies. As a result, many patients have joined advocacy groups first and foremost to connect with others struggling with their rare disease, but also to promote research, unite multiple stakeholders and stimulate new possibilities in the therapeutic pipeline. Research and orphan drug development efforts are starting to follow suit by increasingly incorporating patients’ needs and examining potential outcomes.
Addressing clinical challenges in rare disease and orphan drug development
With government-driven financial incentives, advances in genomic technology to identify promising targets for drug development, increasingly organized patient communities, and above average regulatory approval rates, drug developers are motivated to address rare diseases. While these trends are promising for patients with urgent unmet medical needs, orphan drug development still faces many challenges. The very nature of rare disease places pressure on identifying and accessing a sufficient number of patients for clinical trials.