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Jeffrey Casberg of IPD Analytics Gives Insight on Specialty Drugs in the Pipeline


In an interview with Jeffrey Casberg, MS, RPh, he discusses 3 promising specialty drugs coming through the pipeline. Casberg explains these drugs offer new treatment options for major diseases and stakeholders should watch for their potential impact on the market.

Jeffrey Casberg, RPh, MS, senior vice president of pharmacy at IPD Analytics, considers the top 3 promising biosimilars currently coming down the pipeline. He addresses the significance of each and the specific areas of health they treat.

He also touches on the FDA Advisory Committee and speaks about the obstacles that have delayed approvals for these medications.

This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.


In your view, what are the top 3 promising specialty drugs currently coming down the pipeline and why should stakeholders be keeping an eye on them?

The first one I'll talk about is donanemab for Alzheimer's disease by Eli Lilly; it's an amyloid-β inhibitor for early Alzheimer's disease. It would be a little bit different than Leqembi [lecanemab-irmb] from Biogen, which was fully approved more recently.

Donanemab was originally going to be approved beginning of 2023, so over a year ago, but it has had a little bit of a storied pathway to approval. We were watching for an approval here any day during this last month or so, then out of the blue, there was an announcement that the FDA has requested an FDA Advisory Committee meeting.

If I'm a manufacturer, not really happy about that; you never really want extra scrutiny on your drug. I'm sure they're going to talk about the dosing regimen, the potential for shorter duration of therapy compared to Leqembi probably the ARIA [amyloid-related imaging abnormalities] side effect profile. They haven't given us a date for that FDA Advisory Committee meeting. I would anticipate a date being announced any day and I still think there's opportunity for approval before the end of 2024.

I think one of the other products that is exciting is resmetirom, or Rezdiffra. for NASH [nonalcoholic steatohepatitis]. First product approved for NASH. Again, a therapeutic area we've been waiting for therapies now for maybe 10 years. Finally we do have an approval. Congratulations to Madrigal on that, getting their product over the finish line.

A once daily, oral product. It showed signs of efficacy and NASH resolution and fibrosis improvement. Prescribing information did not include discussion of the need for biopsy in diagnosis. So, to diagnose NASH, now called MASH [metabolic dysfunction-associated steatohepatitis], the gold standard is liver biopsy, but that's pretty invasive. You can also use noninvasive therapy testing to get diagnosis of staging of NASH in the liver. They did not have that, which was a plus for Madrigal.

It would be interesting to see how the payers set up their criteria for approval. There's a whole lot of population out there that could be treated with this, so that's another big approval that just occurred.

I'll just mention one other recent approval. It's called Winrevair for pulmonary arterial hypertension, sotatercept, by Merck. Winrevair is the brand name.

It's a new product for PAH, pulmonary arterial hypertension. It's a new mechanism of action, and has the potential to be more disease modifying—the other therapies out there are more symptomatic treatments—and probably early on will be used as add-on or [in the] second or third line. But I think as physicians get used to it, they could move it up in therapy.

It is pretty expensive: $240,000 for most patients, could be $480,000 for some patients. It's a weight-based dosing, so 1 vial or 2 vials. I think it's subcutaneous every 3 weeks, and it can be self-administered or professionally administered.

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