AstraZeneca spinout Viela bags $75M as FDA filing nears

AstraZeneca spinout Viela Bio has raised $75 million to take anti-CD19 antibody inebilizumab toward approval. The series B round comes 16 months after Viela broke free from AstraZeneca with six drugs and $250 million in funding. Since then, a late-phase trial of inebilizumab in patients with neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD) has hit its primary endpoint, teeing Viela up to file for FDA approval later in the year. To fund the filing and pre-commercial work, Viela has brought additional investors on board. HBM Healthcare Investments led the series B with the support of new investors including Viking Global Investors, Cormorant Asset Management, Terra Magnum Capital Partners, Goldman Sachs and Barer & Son Capital. Temasek was among the existing investors to contribute to the series B. The willingness of the investors to add to Viela’s coffers reflects the potential of inebilizumab. In the late-phase trial, patients with the rare autoimmune disease NMOSD experienced a 77% reduction in the risk of suffering an attack. NMOSD attacks can lead to blindness and paralysis. Viela’s top priority is to bring the drug to market in NMOSD, a condition for which there are no FDA-approved treatments. The Maryland-based biotech is also interested in developing inebilizumab in other indications—AstraZeneca trialed the antibody in multiple sclerosis, systemic scleroderma and B-cell malignancies—and in advancing the other assets it picked up from its parent company.

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Stevanato Group Launches EZ-fill® Kit and Laboratory Fill and Finish Service to Support Small Batch Drug Development and Commercialization

Stevanato Group | January 25, 2024

Stevanato Group S.p.A. a leading global provider of drug containment and delivery solutions to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and life sciences industries, unveiled today two new offerings for efficient small batch pharmaceutical manufacturing: the EZ-fill® Kit and the non-GMP laboratory fill and finish service at its Technology Excellence Centers (TEC). In a context where reducing time-to-market is key, Stevanato Group’s new EZ-fill® Kit offers fast access to a customizable and versatile solution to pharma and biotech companies needing to efficiently fill small batches with high-quality injectable formulations during clinical trials or commercial phases. The surge the industry has seen in biopharmaceuticals treating various diseases in several therapeutical areas may signal a significant growth potential for pharmaceutical companies. Injectables, comprising more than 60% of the over 21,000 drugs currently in development, of which 44% are biopharmaceuticals, require high-performance primary packaging and delivery technologies for proper storage and administration. Stevanato Group’s EZ-fill® Kit builds on its existing ready-to-use platform of pre-sterilized containment solutions – vials, cartridges, and syringes – allowing customers to effectively screen different primary packaging in combination with drug products. The kit will be available as a modular box made up of glass ready-to-use drug containers and add-on components on request, shipped by courier. As a result, the platform can bring enhanced levels of quality and safety to patients across the entire drug life cycle and improve the rate at which new drugs enter the market. EZ-fill® Kit will be presented at Pharmapack and is expected to be available commercially beginning in the second quarter of 2024. Additionally, to better support customers, Stevanato Group has introduced a non-GMP laboratory filling and finishing service at its Technology Excellence Centers (TEC) in Boston, USA, and Piombino Dese, Italy. This new service allows customers to assess and identify the possible effects of the fill-and-finish process on their product performance as early as the container selection stage, thus de-risking processes and enhancing development and commercialization strategy. “In the race to bring new advanced biopharmaceutical products to market and to patients, Stevanato Group is tackling the challenge of supporting customers with flexible drug containment and filling solutions in a timely manner," says Fabio Bertacchini, Senior Director EZ-fill® Vials & Cartridges at Stevanato Group. "Stevanato Group remains focused on developing new offerings that can help raise pharmaceutical manufacturing standards. By leveraging the expertise provided by our global TEC Centers, we aim to support customers' innovation, helping them face tests and de-risking processes and making right-the-first-time choices throughout their drug development journey.” About Stevanato Group Founded in 1949, Stevanato Group is a leading global provider of drug containment, drug delivery and diagnostic solutions to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and life sciences industries. The Group delivers an integrated, end-to-end portfolio of products, processes and services that address customer needs across the entire drug life cycle at each of the development, clinical and commercial stages. Stevanato Group’s core capabilities in scientific research and development, its commitment to technical innovation and its engineering excellence are central to its ability to offer value added solutions to clients.

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Heron Therapeutics Announces FDA Approval of ZYNRELEF® Indication Expansion to Include Additional Orthopedic and Soft Tissue Procedures

Heron Therapeutics, Inc. | January 29, 2024

Heron Therapeutics, Inc. a commercial-stage biotechnology company announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (the "FDA") has approved its supplemental New Drug Application ("NDA") for ZYNRELEF® extended-release solution to expand the indication for soft tissue and orthopedic surgical procedures including foot and ankle, and other procedures in which direct exposure to articular cartilage is avoided. ZYNRELEF was previously approved for foot and ankle, small-to-medium open abdominal, and lower extremity total joint arthroplasty surgical procedures in adults. This expanded indication for ZYNRELEF will now cover an estimated 13 million procedures annually, an estimated increase of 86% over prior indicated procedures. To obtain this labeling expansion, Heron successfully conducted studies for cesarean section, spinal surgery, augmentation mammoplasty, and total shoulder arthroplasty. No unique safety issues were identified from the new clinical trials, and the bupivacaine and meloxicam blood concentrations were consistent with previous experience following ZYNRELEF administration. "The expanded indication is poised to have a transformative impact on patient care, providing healthcare professionals with a versatile and effective solution for managing postoperative pain across an even wider range of surgical procedures. The new label expansion and recent partnership with CrossLink, combined with the potential approval of the Vial Access Needle ("VAN") later this year, are expected to have a significant positive impact for ZYNRELEF and the Company," said Craig Collard, Chief Executive Officer of Heron. "We're excited for the opportunity to give even more healthcare providers and patients a new, safe and effective option for achieving long-lasting non-opioid pain control after painful surgical procedures," said Bill Forbes, Executive Vice President, Chief Development Officer at Heron. "This new approval further reinforces our commitment to providing meaningful solutions to address unmet medical needs in the acute care and oncology settings." ZYNRELEF is the first and only therapy for postoperative pain management to be rigorously tested in Phase 3 studies and demonstrate superiority to bupivacaine solution, the current standard-of-care. ZYNRELEF demonstrated superiority compared to bupivacaine with lower pain scores, fewer patients experiencing severe pain, and lower opioid consumption. ZYNRELEF was initially approved by the FDA in May 2021 and received approval of the first supplemental NDA for an expanded label in December 2021. "Patients undergoing orthopedic procedures often experience severe pain, slowing down their recovery time and potentially leading to other complications. Reducing patients' pain within the first three days is critical for patient satisfaction, and having a product like ZYNRELEF now available for additional orthopedic procedures is a great benefit to have in my practice," said Alexander Sah, M.D., orthopedic surgeon at Sah Orthopaedic Associates. "ZYNRELEF helps my patients recover fully, be discharged sooner, and have significantly less pain, with little to no opioid use." Important Safety Information for Patients ZYNRELEF contains an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug), a type of medicine which Can increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke that can lead to death. This risk increases with higher doses and longer use of an NSAID. Cannot be used during heart bypass surgery. Can increase the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding, ulcers, and tears. ZYNRELEF should also not be used if you are allergic to any component of ZYNRELEF, similar local anesthetics, aspirin or other NSAIDs (such as ibuprofen or naproxen), or have had an asthma attack, hives, or other allergic reaction after taking any of these medicines. as a paracervical block, during childbirth. The most common side effects of ZYNRELEF are soft tissue procedures: vomiting and orthopedic procedures: constipation and headache. The medicines in ZYNRELEF (a local anesthetic and an NSAID) may affect the nervous and cardiovascular system; may cause liver or kidney problems; may reduce the effects of some blood pressure medicines; should be avoided if you have severe heart failure; may cause adverse effects on cartilage; may cause a rare blood disorder, or life-threatening skin or allergic reactions; may harm your unborn baby if received at 20 weeks of pregnancy or later; and may cause low red blood cells (anemia). Tell your healthcare provider about all your medical conditions and about all the medicines you take including prescription or over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, or herbal supplements to discuss if ZYNRELEF is right for you. Talk to your healthcare provider for medical advice about side effects. Report side effects to Heron at 1-844-437-6611 The information provided here is not comprehensive. Please see full Prescribing Information, including Boxed Warning. About ZYNRELEF ZYNRELEF is the first and only dual-acting local anesthetic that delivers a fixed-dose combination of the local anesthetic bupivacaine and a low dose of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug meloxicam. ZYNRELEF is the first and only extended-release local anesthetic to demonstrate in Phase 3 studies significantly reduced pain and significantly increased proportion of patients requiring no opioids through the first 72 hours following surgery compared to bupivacaine solution, the current standard-of-care local anesthetic for postoperative pain control. ZYNRELEF was initially approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (the "FDA") in May 2021 for use in adults for soft tissue or periarticular instillation to produce postsurgical analgesia for up to 72 hours after bunionectomy, open inguinal herniorrhaphy and total knee arthroplasty. In December 2021, the FDA approved an expansion of ZYNRELEF's indication to include foot and ankle, small-to-medium open abdominal, and lower extremity total joint arthroplasty surgical procedures. On January 23, 2024, the FDA approved ZYNRELEF for soft tissue and orthopedic surgical procedures including foot and ankle, and other procedures in which direct exposure to articular cartilage is avoided. Safety and efficacy have not been established in highly vascular surgeries, such as intrathoracic, large multilevel spinal, and head and neck procedures. ZYNRELEF was granted a marketing authorization by the European Commission in September 2020 and by the United Kingdom Regulatory Authority in January 2021. In August 2023, we cancelled the ZYNRELEF U.K. marketing authorization and, in October 2023, we cancelled the ZYNRELEF European Union (EU) marketing authorization, as we do not plan to commercially launch ZYNRELEF in the U.K. or the EU. About Heron Therapeutics, Inc. Heron Therapeutics, Inc. is a commercial-stage biotechnology company focused on improving the lives of patients by developing and commercializing therapeutic innovations that improve medical care. Our advanced science, patented technologies, and innovative approach to drug discovery and development have allowed us to create and commercialize a portfolio of products that aim to advance the standard-of-care for acute care and oncology patients.

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Industry Outlook

Virica Expands Bioprocessing Capabilities with Carleton University Partnership

Virica Biotech | January 17, 2024

Virica Biotech Inc. (“Virica”), a leading developer of cell enhancers for scaling of viral vector as well as cell and gene therapy manufacturing will expand its bioprocessing services through a partnership with Carleton University. Slated to open this spring, Virica’s new facility at the university multiplies the Company’s capacity to provide high throughput virology services for customers looking to optimize production of their cell and gene therapies. “Carleton’s new Health Sciences Building provides us with greater access to modern infrastructure and analytical expertise,” said Jean Simon Diallo, Ph.D., CEO of Virica Biotech. “Their state-of-the-art analytical research facilities and world-class researchers across multiple disciplines open the door to exciting opportunities for partnering with Carleton University as we continue to invest to meet customer demand.” “We are very pleased to welcome Virica Biotech to the Carleton campus,” said Rafik Goubran, Ph.D., Vice-President (Research and International) and Chancellor’s Professor, Carleton University. “This multi-year, multi-million-dollar research and infrastructure partnership will help drive innovation and talent development in the Ottawa region for the creation and manufacturing of advanced therapies.” This partnership expands on Carleton’s history of supporting Ottawa biotechnology companies. The new open concept facility will include high throughput equipment to accelerate Virica’s bioprocess development and optimizations. In addition to expanded modern infrastructure, this new location enables the development and recruitment of world-class talent with experiential learning and training opportunities for Carleton students. Through this partnership, Carleton will coordinate the establishment of a scholarship fund designed to empower graduate students from traditionally underrepresented groups in science. About Virica Biotech Virica develops cell enhancers for viral vectors that improve the yield and quality of vaccines and cell and gene therapies, allowing developers to economically deploy their products at scale. Virica’s Viral Sensitizer (VSE™) platform reduces production inefficiencies caused by anti-viral defenses in manufacturing cells. Purpose formulated VSE combinations substantially increase manufacturing yields and reduce the cost of goods for a range of life-changing products, including vaccines, gene therapies, and cell therapies. About Carleton University Carleton University is a dynamic, research-intensive institution that engages in partnerships to address the world’s most pressing challenges. The university’s corporate collaborations bring together world-class companies, researchers and a new generation of talent with over 30,000 students to deliver innovations and results that are driving a more prosperous, sustainable future.

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