Monday, August 11, 2008

The Case for Byetta LAR (Part 1)

Lilly and Amylin say they have one regulatory hurdle to cross before filing for the long-acting formulation of exenatide (Byetta LAR): demonstrating comparability between the clinical formulation of the drug and the proposed commercial supply manufactured by Amylin in Ohio.

Amylin CEO Dan Bradbury told investors during the company’s second quarter conference call July 21 that a recent meeting with the agency gives the company great confidence in its projection of an NDA filing sometime in the next year. The company has said all along that it expects to file by the end of the first half of 2009, Bradbury said; the meeting with FDA suggests that timeline may be conservative, since the agency may end up not requiring a full-fledged clinical crossover study.

At a time when investors are focused on the now clear, unequivocal emphasis on outcomes endpoints for new type 2 diabetes drugs, Amylin’s confidence in a near time filing date for Byetta LAR is big news.

This is a tough time for type 2 diabetes drug development. An FDA advisory committee essentially endorsed the Steve Nissen worldview: that blood sugar reduction is not an end in itself, and new drugs for use by diabetics need to provide sufficient evidence of outcomes benefits—especially cardiovascular outcomes—as a condition for approval.

Our colleagues at “The Pink Sheet” have extensive coverage of the meeting, and—more importantly—FDA’s takeaways from the meeting.

But in case you missed it, after a morning’s worth of warm-up, Steve Nissen—Cleveland Clinic cardiologist and shadow FDA commissioner—went up to the podium and called out the entire profession of endocrinology, telling the committee that they have made glucose reduction a goal in itself and lost sight of the bigger picture. Some committee members fumed visibly—but the panel spent the next day-and-a-half following the agenda laid out by Nissen.

The committee agreed with his premise—that it is no longer acceptable to approve drugs solely based on the ability to reduce HbA1c levels—and with his overall approach to assessing cardiovascular outcomes. They punted on some questions—like exactly how much outcomes research to expect, and under exactly what conditions the studies would be necessary prior to approval instead of as post-marketing commitments.

So what does all this mean, other than demonstrating once again the incredible influence Nissen has on drug development and use in this country at this moment in history?

First, it confirms that the bar is indeed higher for type 2 diabetes drugs, that—in effect—they will be governed by a quasi-superiority standard of the type that FDA has begun talking about for NSAIDs (and now antipsychotics).

That in itself should not be news: Remember Pargluva? But it is now clear that new agents for glucose reduction will be expected to demonstrate some compelling reason for approval—better HbA1c control, evidence of reduced toxicity, something—or else face the risk of being asked for definitive proof of outcomes prior to approval.

So there is plenty of reason to wonder whether Lilly and Amylin can in fact move forward with LAR as planned (or even faster than planned).

We think they can…and we’ll explain why tomorrow.

No comments: