drug development

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of  Vienna have developed a light-field laser imaging system that generates 3D movies of entire brains at a millisecond timescale to create a complete “living” brain map.  The research thereby offers a more complete picture of nervous system activity than has been previously possible.   The technique is envisioned to elucidate how entire neural circuits operate to generate behavior, thereby empowering new therapeutic strategies for neurological and psychiatric disorders.  To date the system has been used to simultaneously image the activity of every neuron in the worm Caenorhabditis elegans as well as the entire brain of a zebrafish larva.  Such an approach could help researchers learn more about the biological basis of brain disorders and monitor the reactions of the nervous system to drugs and other substances in the body.  The researchers believe that the “ability to survey activity throughout a nervous system may help pinpoint the cells or networks that are involved with a brain disorder, leading to new ideas for therapies.”  In addition, this technique may be useful for mechanistic toxicology to help determine the relevance of adverse events for human safety.

Source:  Drug Development News

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Assessing Safety Earlier in Drug Development

Posted by cdavenport on Wednesday Aug 1, 2012 Under Biomarker, Drug Safety, Preclinical, Risk Management

The objective of a recent survey by Cambridge Health Associates was to identify trends in safety biomarkers and their utilization in drug development.  Regardless of company size, recurrent themes for assessing drug safety in early preclinical development were noted.

  • Greater knowledge of safety biomarkers improved mechanistic understanding and helped to determine the relevance of nonclinical findings for clinical risk assessment.
  • Preclinical inclusion of systems or pathway modeling was deemed important for the selection and interpretation of biomarkers of organ toxicity.
  • Physical chemical prediction software or other forms of genetic or developmental and reproductive toxicity (DART) prediction software (e.g., DEREK, M-CASE, Leadscope) were being incorporated into early preclinical development by most companies.  All 3 software companies have Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADA) with the FDA.
  • For cellular parameter screens, most companies are using image-based multi-parametric approaches of cellular analysis and cytotoxicity at the single-cell and subcellular level (via High Content Analysis [HCA])
  • Off-target screening (usually a CEREP panel) was performed by most companies early in preclinical development.

As might be expected to “slow the burn,” smaller companies ran fewer preclinical screens to predict drug safety and  performed these screens later in the drug development process.  Given that larger companies expect to have this information sooner than later, companies wanting to partner and/or be acquired may consider including more screens for drug safety earlier in their preclinical development programs.

 

SourceDSEC Drug Safety Executive Blog

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Both pharmaceutical industry and regulatory professionals acknowledge the importance of balancing timely access to new medicines with the need for thorough review of drug safety and efficacy data.  A new study, funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts (to be published in the New England Journal of Medicine), reviewed drug approval decisions of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Canadian drug regulator -Health Canada, and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) between 2001 and 2010.  Yale and Mayo Clinic researchers studied each regulator’s database of drug approvals to identify novel therapeutics and timing of key regulatory events, thereby allowing regulatory review speed to be calculated.  The study found that the FDA approves 80% of all the applications it receives.  The median time for novel drug reviews by the FDA was 322 days (10.5 months).  That was 45 to 70 days ahead of Europe and Canada, which typically completed their novel drug reviews after 12 and 13 months, respectively.  Over the same 10-year time frame, the FDA reviewed 225 novel drug applications, 40 more than Europe and nearly 125 more than Canada.  Among novel drugs approved in both the U.S. and Europe, 64% were first approved by the FDA.  For novel drugs approved in both the U.S. and Canada, 86% were first approved by the FDA.

Release of study results may be too late to impact upcoming drug user fee Congressional legislation.  This legislation will reauthorize user fees the FDA collects from companies that make prescription drugs and medical devices.   In return for a 6% increase in user fees, the FDA has already agreed to accelerate novel drug approvals even further.  The standing Senate bill (approved by the White House) supports a new user fee for the review of generic drugs and adds provisions that address some challenges of globalization by enhancing the safety of the drug supply chain, increase incentives for the development of new antibiotics, renew and enhance mechanisms to ensure that children’s medicines are appropriately tested and labeled, and that expedite the development and review of certain drugs for treatment of serious or life-threatening diseases and conditions (e.g., by allowing conduct of smaller, shorter clinical trials).

SourcesHuffPost Health, Modern Healthcare.com, R&D Magazine, and The Hill.

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Potential Academic Contributions to Drug Development

Posted by cdavenport on Monday May 14, 2012 Under Drug Safety, FDA, Techniques

Dr. Janet Woodcock (CDER, FDA) stated that for every 10 drugs that enter Phase I clinical trials, only 1 drug is approved.  The cost of bringing an innovative drug to market often requires a decade and a billion dollars of investment.  The paradigm where pharmaceutical companies invest heavily in research and development yet garner few drug approvals is unsustainable.

Woodcock suggests that academic researchers can contribute better methods and technologies to enable faster/better preclinical and clinical decisions to be made during drug development.  Recommendations given include:

  • Development of biomarkers that help identify not only safety risks but also identify patients most likely to benefit from a new, targeted therapy
  • Greater emphasis on applied science (e.g., drug manufacturing and scale-up enhancements)
  • Identification of biochemical pathways causal to disease states
  • Identification of proof-of-concept/surrogate endpoints
  • Enhanced understanding of how the body handles a drug
  • Take a lead on developing orphan drugs, which have historically not been a priority for pharmaceutical companies
  • Develop and implement new ways to conduct clinical trials (e.g., use of early biomarker identification to guide patient selection) with the goal of developing faster, better, smaller clinical studies to gain critical information more quickly ( e.g., work being done at Stanford University)
  • To extend clinical trials into the community and region surrounding academic medical centers to facilitate patient access, recruitment, and to enhance compliance

The public has a decreased tolerance for risk, as evidenced by increased regulatory requirements for premarket evaluation of drug safety and efficacy.  The hope is that academic researchers can drive changes in the required testing paradigms (nonclinical and clinical) to enable faster, better, and cheaper drug approvals.

Sources:  Lecture by Dr. Janet Woodcock at the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (qb3), UCSF and HealthCanal.com.

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An Institute of Medicine (IOM) committee report, recommends that the FDA take proactive steps to continue monitoring drug safety after initial approval and throughout the market lifecycle.   Post-market evidence is far greater than what the FDA has when deciding upon initial approval.  The IOM recommendation is that the initial approval is viewed as just one early step in a process that requires continuous, long-term monitoring (the “lifecycle approach”).  The report makes recommendations about how post-market research should be conducted.  The committee found that while randomized controlled trials remain the gold standard for studying drug effectiveness, observational studies have ethical and practical benefits over clinical trials post-approval.  Safety results can be obtained more quickly, therefore regulatory action can be initiated earlier.  One of the key report recommendations is that upon approval, each drug will have a single, publicly available Benefit and Risk Assessment Management Plan (BRAMP) to serve as a central, evolving repository of side effects and other information.  As a centralized comprehensive record, the BRAMP will include a description, a benefit/risk assessment of any safety questions that exist when a drug is approved as well as any that emerge over the course of its market lifecycle, and details on any regulatory actions taken and their results.  Furthermore, it was recommended that the FDA’s drug surveillance systems could be improved through use of various technological and methodological advances (e.g., use of natural language processing for review of electronic medical records).  The possibility was also raised that with a more robust post-approval monitoring process, the more flexible regulatory authorities could be in the pre-approval stage.

SourceMedical News Today, and HealthCanal.com

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In the next 2-5 years, large pharmaceutical companies plan to increase outsourcing of preclinical work, with emphasis on Discovery and non-GLP Toxicology.  This trend is driven by the reductions in internal preclinical capability within Big Pharma.  In an apparent reversal of the current trend towards use of a limited number of preferred providers, capacity will necessitate increasing the number of contract research organizations (CRO) involved.  An offshore trend is anticipated despite the rapidly narrowing price differentials between Chinese and Western CROs for nonclinical work.  A survey suggested that the offshore CROs best positioned to secure the early-stage drug development business from large pharmaceutical companies are Covance, WuXi, BioDuro, and ShangPharma.   As an example, ShangPharma recently opened a new facility to accommodate a multi-year contract with Eli Lilly, with emphasis on in vivo pharmacology, oncology, and metabolic disease work.

Sources:  Outsourcing-Pharma.com 11 Jan 201217 Apr 2012, 19 Apr 2012

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Nonclinical Toxicology: FDA Guidance Agenda for 2012

Posted by cdavenport on Monday Mar 26, 2012 Under Drug Safety, FDA, Preclinical, Regulatory

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) has issued a list of planned draft and final guidance documents for release in 2012.  There are about 50 such guidances planned.  Below are a few select highlights relevant to the preclinical safety space, with emphasis on the drug development of small molecules.

Electronic Submissions

  • Providing Regulatory Submissions in Electronic Format – General Considerations
  • Providing Regulatory Submissions in Electronic Format – Human Pharmaceutical Product Applications and Related Submissions.  Using the eCTD Specifications
  • Providing Regulatory Submissions in Electronic Format – Study Data
  • Providing Regulatory Submissions in Electronic Format – Standardized Study Data

Procedural

  • Integrated Summary of Safety
  • Investigational New Drug (IND) Applications prepared and submitted by Clinical Sponsor Investigators

 

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Growth in demand for nonclinical toxicology services will be weak for the foreseeable future analysts said after the Society of Toxicology (SOT) annual meeting in San Francisco this past week.  “Most agree that the industry is not merely going through a prolonged cyclical slowdown, but has also structurally changed, with less of an emphasis by clients on maximizing the number of drug candidates flowing into preclinical testing,” stated John Kreger, equity analyst at William Blair.  In addition, chronic toxicity testing is being delayed until the later stages of compound development; this reduces preclinical development costs for compounds that fail.  Among other factors, this has led to excess capacity at contract research organizations (CRO), price restrictions, and site closures.  Tim Evans, senior analyst at Wells Fargo, expects the overall nonclinical toxicology market to grow by 2% in 2012 due to higher outsourcing penetration.  In their selection of preferred service providers, global bio/pharmaceutical companies generally favor large CROs with broad capabilities.  These “strategic partnership” deals, which are the cornerstones of global bio/pharmaceutical companies’ current outsourcing strategies, seek to leverage their massive buying power, reduce the cost of overhead, and improve coordination with the CRO.  Sourcing models will continue to evolve, however, and will eventually threaten the business model upon which the recent megadeals are based.

 

On a related note due in part to ongoing capacity cuts, large pharmaceutical companies are seeking co-development deals with CROs and biotechnology firms to handle excess intellectual property.   Shared risk and reward features are found in some of the more creative models.   CROs that have made major acquisitions in order to leverage capacity, however, could be outmaneuvered by evolving sourcing models.

Sources:  Outsourcing-Pharma.com 12-Mar-2012, 15-Mar-2012; BioPharm International

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FDA Pre-IND Meetings: Why, When and How

Posted by cdavenport on Friday Feb 24, 2012 Under FDA, Regulatory, TigerU

The pre-IND phase of drug development is the foundation upon which all development-related activities (including registration) depend.  It is, therefore, essential to give proper forethought and attention to this initial, all-important step of the drug-development process.  In the United States, a pre-IND meeting can add considerable value to the overall process and maximize efficient use of both Sponsor and FDA resources.  Although pre-IND meetings require considerable planning and preparation on the part of both the Sponsor and FDA, if warranted and properly conducted, the meeting can provide the Sponsor with valuable insight as to the FDA’s expectations regarding initial- and later-stage development and registration strategies.  This presentation provides a high-level introduction to U.S. FDA pre-IND meetings ─ why and when a Sponsor should consider having a meeting and how the Sponsor approaches the process.

 

Source: Outsourcing4BioPharma

Outsourcing4BioPharma is designed to facilitate business transactions between the clients in health science industries and the contract service providers.

USA · http://www.outsourcing4biopharma.com

 

About the Author:

Grace Furman, Ph.D.

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FDA Changes Expected with PDUFA V

Posted by cdavenport on Monday Oct 24, 2011 Under FDA, Regulatory

The average cost of developing a drug was $1.3 billion as of January 2011.  The average first-cycle approval rate for standard new molecular entities (NME) has increased from an average of 30% in 1992 to 38% this year.  Priority NMEs have fared better with the FDA, with approvals rising from 46% to 68% during this same period.

The Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act (FDAAA) of 2007, which allowed FDA to require post-marketing studies and clinical trials to address outstanding drug safety questions, lowered the percentage of new drugs, biologics, and efficacy supplements approved by the FDA to below 80% in 2Q 2009.  By 1Q 2011, that percentage returned to the mid 90% range, about the same as in 1Q 2005.

The current forth authorization of the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA IV) expires at the end of September 2012.  According to the Draft Commitment Letter signed by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA),  to increase the chances of successful first-cycle approvals, PDUFA V will delay the start of FDA’s clock for its first review cycle to after its 60-day administrative filing review period.  Once the clock starts, however, FDA is committed to reviewing and acting on 90% of standard NME, New Drug Application (NDA), and original Biologics License Application (BLA) submissions within 10 months —12 months from the date of filing.  FDA has also committed to reviewing 90% of priority NME, NDA, and original BLA submissions within 6 months, or 8 months from the filing date.  Furthermore, once the PDUFA V review clock starts running, drug developers and FDA officials must meet 3 times:

•    A pre-submission meeting at which “the applicant is strongly encouraged to discuss the planned content of the application.”

•    A new mid-cycle meeting, to which the FDA will call an applicant, will generally be held within 2 weeks after the Agency holds its own internal mid-cycle review meeting on an application.

•    A late-cycle meeting at which FDA’s review team will meet with an applicant to discuss the status of Agency review of the application late in the review cycle.

The new mid-cycle review meeting is meant to provide an opportunity for the Sponsor and Agency to discuss what issues have been identified and how to resolve those issues.  It also provides an earlier opportunity for the Agency to alert the Sponsor if additional information is needed related to labeling, Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS), and post-marketing commitments.

PDUFA V raises to $3 billion the amount of user fees to be collected by the Agency from a Sponsor.  User fees of $2.9 billion are required by PDUFA IV.  This user-fee increase will enable the Agency to hire additional staff to review drug and biologic applications.  PDUFA V also commits the FDA to develop staff capacity to review submissions that involve pharmacogenomics and biomarkers and to fund the FDA regulatory science initiatives.  To this end, target dates for completion of new initiatives have been set.

  • Oct. 24, 2011: FDA will hold a public meeting to discuss PDUFA reauthorization.
  • Sept. 30, 2013: FDA will develop a dedicated drug development communication and training staff within the Office of New Drugs (OND) in the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), and increase the existing manufacturers’ assistance staff at FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER).   The CDER Rare Disease Program within OND will increase the number of staff focused on rare disease drug reviews, which is particularly important due to the increasing emphasis placed by Big Pharma on orphan drugs.
  • Sept. 30, 2014: OND drug development and communication staff will provide training to all CDER staff involved in review of Investigational New Drug (IND) applications.
  • March 31, 2015: FDA will publish draft guidance for review staff and industry describing best practices for communication between FDA and IND sponsors during drug development.

And finally in regards to drug safety and as an effort to lessen the effect of politically-induced risk aversion by the Agency, PDUFA V also calls for greater integration of patient perspectives into the review criteria.  The Agency has explicit plans over the course of the PDUFA V period to change the way it assesses benefits and risks, as well as the endpoints used to assess safety and efficacy, based on the advice it receives from patients.

Sources: Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News, BioPortfolio, BioCentury, Legal News Directory, FDA

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