The Readout Damian Garde & Meghana Keshavan

A crash course in pharma for digital health execs

Digital health startups are willing and eager to work with pharma to roll out their products. And while pharma companies are initially interested, they quickly tend to lose interest — while the startups are left high and dry, STAT’s Casey Ross writes. They tend to puzzle over why they’ve been ghosted by execs, but are scarcely given answers.

So Naomi Fried, a technology innovation expert, is launching PharmStars — a 10-week bootcamp to help companies in the digital health space better understand the inner-workings of drug makers. The program will begin Sept. 1. 

Read more.

Amgen's new antibody deal 

Amgen has secured global development and marketing rights to an experimental antibody treatment for atopic dermatitis from the Japanese drug maker Kyowa Kirin, the two companies announced Tuesday. 

The injectable drug, called KHK4803, works by blocking a stimulatory molecule called OX40 on certain types of T cells that play a role in the chronic, inflammatory skin disease. Last February, Kyowa said KHK4803 achieved the goals of a mid-stage study, readying the drug for Phase 3 clinical trials. 

Amgen paid $400 million up-front plus another $850 million in future contingent payments to acquire the rights to KHK4803 from Kyowa. If the drug proves effective, Amgen could have another blockbuster treatment to bolster its inflammatory disease franchise. Regeneron's Dupixent is the top-selling antibody treatment for atopic dermatitis today, delivering just over $4 billion in sales last year.

Amgen’s KRAS-targeting cancer drug approved

In other news for Amgen, the FDA on Friday approved a drug from the company that treats lung cancer patients with the KRAS mutation — a target that was once considered undruggable. The drug, called Lumakras, is cleared to treat patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer who carry a mutation called G12C. It’s found in approximately 13% of lung tumors, STAT’s Adam Feuerstein writes.

The drug will cost about $17,900 before insurer discounts, or $214,800 per year. The approval is significant, given that drug makers have been trying to target these mutations since scientists discovered the link between KRAS and cancer nearly 40 years ago.

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Why some docs are reticent to prescribe aducanumab

There’s a chance that aducanumab will win regulatory approval to treat Alzheimer’s disease in less than a week. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that doctors will prescribe the controversial drug. Biogen hasn’t made a convincing case for the drug’s efficacy, opines Jason Karlawish, a neurologist and medical ethics expert at University of Pennsylvania.

“The consequence of FDA approval are as disturbing as they are vast,” he writes for STAT. Although it’s still unclear whether the drug even works, Biogen will likely charge between $20,000 and $50,000 for it. “Putting it on the market will stress Medicare’s resources,” he added. 

Read more.

More reads

  • Grilling Scott Gottlieb on burgers, drugs, and a post-pandemic summer. (STAT)
  • Two new laws restrict police use of DNA search method. (New York Times)
  • Johnson & Johnson asks Supreme Court to void $2 billion talc verdict. (NBC News)

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


Tuesday, June 1, 2021


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