Rare Disease

In a settlement announced via a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, Alexion said it had settled with Amgen over eculizumab patent disputes, allowing Amgen to bring a competing biosimilar to market in 2025.
The documents include specific ones for hemophilia, retinal disorders, and rare diseases, as well as manufacturing, testing, and patient follow-up.
It is the only biosimilar candidate referencing Soliris to be granted investigational new drug approval in China.
During this week’s 61st meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH), researchers reported on eculizumab, a prospective biosimilar, and the long-acting ravulizumab.
Roche’s Japan-based subsidiary, Chugai Pharmaceutical, has filed a new patent infringement suit against Alexion in the District Court of Delaware.
In a research letter appearing this week in JAMA Internal Medicine, authors from Oregon Health and Science University raised the question of whether the “large and increasing revenue from eculizumab” could be tied to off-label use for non-approved indications.
As innovator biologics that have achieved blockbuster sales status reach or near the end of their exclusivities, biosimilar competition is close behind. This week, stakeholders got a closer look at how innovator drug companies are positioning themselves to maintain their sales in the face of such competition.
Genentech has announced that a phase 3 study of its brand-name rituximab, Rituxan, met its primary end point and demonstrated that treatment with rituximab is superior to treatment with mycophenolate mofetil in patients with moderate to severe pemphigus vulgaris (PV), a rate autoimmune disease that affects the skin and mucous membranes.  
While eculizumab is being targeted by multiple biosimilar developers who are in phase 3 clinical trials with their competitive products, spending on eculizumab is reaching concerning levels; as such, it is increasingly important to clarify eculizumab’s place in the treatment paradigm for myasthenia gravis (MG).
A small, yet rapidly growing segment of commercially insured US patients have drug costs of more than $250,000 each year, and this group could account for 15% of all drug expenditures in the next 5 years.

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