Friday Five – The Pharma Week in Review (8 October 2021)

How big will the market for oral COVID-19 antivirals be?

Approximately $6 billion a year, according to analysts at Bernstein, with Merck & Co. set to take a 50% share of this thanks to their front-runner status.

Last week, Merck and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics announced positive Phase III data for molnupiravir, showing the antiviral drug halves the risk of hospitalisation and death in COVID-19 patients.

This could be a game changer, say experts, but with only limited data made available at present numerous questions about molnupiravir remain unanswered.

Will the gene therapy gold rush continue…

…despite safety concerns for the field at large?

It seems so, with both Pfizer and Takeda announcing new gene therapy collaborations this week (with Voyager Therapeutics and Selecta Biosciences, respectively).

Furthermore, the emergence of new players focusing on gene therapy shows no sign of slowing down, with at least 19 start-ups having collectively raised more than $890 million this year in seed and series A funding rounds.

What are the biggest clinical catalysts in Q4?

Data readouts in immuno-oncology, NASH and depression are among the most eagerly anticipated before the end of 2021.

Read our list in full here.

Can AbbVie's Rinvoq evade JAK safety fallout?

Not entirely – some US rheumatologists anticipate prescribing JAK inhibitors less as a result of new FDA safety labelling, regardless of brand.

However, Rinvoq appears to be more insulated than either Xeljanz (Pfizer) or Olumiant (Eli Lilly), based on widespread perception that it is a superior agent both in terms of efficacy and safety.

More from our new rheumatologist survey here.

Do anti-OX40 biologics pose a threat to Dupixent?

Sanofi's acquisition of Kymab earlier this year suggests so.

Phase II results for the Kymab-developed antibody amlitelimab and a competing agent being investigated by Amgen – known currently as AMG 451 – were presented last weekend at the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (EADV) congress.

Mid-stage data suggest these drugs could offer at least comparable efficacy to Dupixent, which Sanofi and partner Regeneron Pharmaceuticals have flagged as a peak $10 billion-a-year franchise.

Notably, 14% of patients treated with AMG 451 had failed to respond adequately to Dupixent.

More here

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