Perspectives: For Pharma, Winning Vaccine Race Will Be Like Winning Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket
Read recent commentaries about drug-cost issues.
If A Vaccine Quenches Covid-19, What Will Pharma Want In Return?
Make no mistake: The only long-term solution to the Covid-19 pandemic is a safe and effective vaccine. The current focus on identifying effective treatments, while important, serve only as a temporary Band-Aid. We don’t know yet if hydroxychloroquine, remdesivir, or any of the other repurposed drugs currently being tested in a blitzkrieg of quickly designed clinical trials are going to work and save lives. It’s highly likely that most of them, if not all of them, will fail or be only marginally helpful. Plasma obtained from people who have beaten Covid-19, filled with virus-neutralizing antibodies, is likelier to be of some help. (Stewart Lyman, 4/21)
The Success Of A Covid-19 Vaccine Will Hinge On Its Delivery
The lesson learned from a long history of using vaccines to fight massively disruptive diseases like smallpox and Ebola is that the vaccine itself is not enough. Like a good punch line, it’s all about the delivery. The smallpox vaccine was an average one with a limited supply. But small, dedicated teams implemented a winning strategy for it. They focused on rapidly identifying individuals with smallpox and then vaccinating people in their circle or “ring” of potential contacts, creating a cordon of immunity that kept the disease out. The same strategy was recently employed with impressive results in the fight against Ebola. (Lois Privor-Dumm, Naor Bar Zeev and Maria Deloria Knoll, 4/25)
COVID-19: Time To Reexamine The Orphan Drug Act And Find An Alternative
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the resiliency of the U.S. health care system — particularly the innovative public and private efforts to develop new treatments and vaccines and the strength of the drug supply chain to ensure access to essential medications. Publicly and privately funded researchers around the world have been working on vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 at speeds that would have seemed unthinkable before this crisis. The FDA has found ways to fast track these drugs for eventual approval. However, the pandemic has also highlighted some of the system’s flaws — like the Orphan Drug Act (ODA). (Mathew Lane, 4/25)
Novartis Keeps 2020 Forecasts On Gains From Key Drugs
A study evaluating a Novartis AG cholesterol drug stopped enlisting patients due to Covid-19, the latest example of how the pandemic is hampering research across the industry. The Swiss drugmaker has paused new enrollment in a large U.K. clinical trial called Orion-4 that’s evaluating the experimental heart drug inclisiran, Chief Executive Officer Vas Narasimhan said in a Bloomberg Television interview. The potential blockbuster was central to Novartis’s $9.7 billion takeover of Medicines Co. last year. Novartis is far from alone as regulators around the world ask researchers to avoid in-person interactions and try using telephone or video instead, and as medical centers focus on tackling the coronavirus. (James Paton, 4/28)
The Covid-19 Pandemic Could Be The Start Of The 'Biotech Century'
If you had infinite foresight and knew a pathogen like Covid-19 was coming, what would you do to prepare? You’d certainly stockpile N95 masks and ventilators. But you’d also invest billions of dollars, or perhaps even trillions, in biopharma research and development to get ready to fight back. The latter is exactly what we have done. Since 1995, businesses and government agencies have spent almost $2 trillion on health-related R&D in the United States alone. From that spending has come a series of scientific and medical successes, including the sequencing of the human genome, the taming of HIV, a cure for hepatitis C, the slow rollout of gene therapies, immunotherapy for cancer, and more. (Michael Mandel, 4/27)