JPM: Day 4 round-up
The final day of the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference ended with more of a whisper than a bang, despite a slew of smaller biotechs still with presentations to give. While the halls of the Westin St. Francis were decidedly less packed on Thursday than earlier in the week, attendance was still high.
Inhalable insulin developer MannKind was optimistic about the relaunch of its insulin Afrezza, despite the drug largely being a commercial flop and big pharma partner Sanofi pulling out of the deal. CEO Matt Pfeffer said MannKind has ended a pact with its contract sales organization and is hoping to hire 65 sales reps of its own as it continues to push Afrezza forward.
Pfeffer insists the drug is still in its "early days" on the market, and pointed to early sales of other insulins. Meanwhile, the company sold off some of its California real estate for $17 million to bring in a little cash.
Beleaguered biotech Novavax was equally as optimistic about its respiratory syncytial virus program that is currently in Phase 3, despite the failure of its other late-stage trial in the fall of last year. The company is hoping to get the OK from the Food and Drug Administration to unblind topline data from the trial in the second half of the year, with fingers crossed that the data will be positive.
Outside the conference, Tesaro got one of the first Complete Response Letters of the year from the FDA for its intravenous formulation of rolapitant. The nausea drug was held up by manufacturing questions from the agency. There were a notable number of rejections last year due to manufacturing problems and it appears the trend will continue.
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