Biopharma CEOs Acknowledge Bad Actors, But Say ‘You Don’t Burn Down The House To Get Rid Of The Rats’
Stat hosted a summit for top executives and researchers, policymakers, and patient advocates to discuss the future of medicine and the pharmaceutical landscape.
Three CEOs Own Up To Biopharma’s Bad Reputation
Biopharma’s reputation is, objectively speaking, the worst. And on Thursday, several biotech CEOs said in no uncertain terms that they believed that negative reputation was earned — particularly because of some drug pricing decisions. “Unfortunately, I think the industry has earned it. I think there has been and continues to be bad behaviors,” said Nick Leschly, the chief executive of Bluebird Bio, speaking at the STAT Summit on Thursday. (Sheridan, 11/21)
Machine Learning Will Yield New Drug Candidates Within Three Years
An explosion of biological data will lead to the first drug candidates discovered by an artificial intelligence system within the next few years, a feat that promises to change the way pharmaceutical companies conduct research. That was a consensus opinion that emerged among experts in machine learning who spoke at the STAT Summit Thursday about the use of AI in the pharmaceutical industry. (Ross, 11/21)
Gene Therapy Pioneer: Field Is Behind, And Delivery Tech Is 'Embarrassing'
Gene therapy pioneer Dr. James Wilson is disappointed by the progress in his field — and expects current therapies and technologies to be soon surpassed by new approaches. “In five years, when we look back on the way we’re executing on gene therapy now, we’re going to realize that things are going to be very different,” Wilson said at the STAT Summit on Thursday. “The way in which we’re going to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy, potentially cure it, is not the way in which it’s being evaluated in the clinic now.” (Robbins, 11/21)
Biogen’s Top Scientist Nearly Dares FDA Not To Approve Alzheimer’s Drug
Biogen’s top scientist offered unflinching support Thursday for the efficacy of the company’s controversial Alzheimer’s drug called aducanumab, shrugging off outside skepticism and almost daring regulators not to approve it. “I believe the drug works,” said Al Sandrock, Biogen’s head of research and development and chief medical officer, speaking at the STAT Summit. “I’m very excited about the prospect of getting the drug approved.” (Feuerstein, 11/21)
After Celgene Buy, Bristol-Myers CEO Ducks Questions About Rival
In his first appearance since Bristol-Myers Squibb completed its takeover last week of Celgene (CELG), Giovanni Caforio offered a predictably upbeat prognosis for the newly combined company but sidestepped questions about rival Merck’s ongoing dominance of immunotherapy, a key area that has been tinged with disappointment for the poker-faced executive. “I think we’re just at the beginning of a long journey. We’ve demonstrated immune-oncology is extremely effective and changing the standard of care across a large number of tumors. … We are far from the end,” the Bristol-Myers chief executive officer told the crowd at the STAT Summit, an industry conference sponsored by STAT and held at MIT. (Silverman, 11/21)
As FDA Toils Over How To Regulate CBD, Frustration Builds On All Sides
Companies who want to make CBD are increasingly frustrated that the Food and Drug Administration hasn’t yet given them clear regulations for their work. So, too, are consumer advocates, who want the agency to rein in the wildly popular marijuana-adjacent product. Dr. Amy Abernethy, the FDA official leading that effort, has a simple but less than satisfying message: We’re trying. The FDA set out in earnest in April to figure out how to regulate CBD supplements. But following a closely watched public meeting in May, the agency has largely gone silent on when it will release a blueprint for how it plans to regulate the product — even blowing past self-imposed deadlines. (Florko, 11/22)