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The Readout Damian Garde & Meghana Keshavan

There's a new BIO sheriff in town 

BIO’s new CEO has a different way of talking about biopharma than some of her peers. While others might talk about "access" or "reimbursement," Michelle McMurry-Heath, a veteran physician and scientist, says she’s passionate about ethics and equity. 

“Science is the social justice issue of our age,” she told STAT. “Making sure that knowledge gets out to the people who need it, that, to me, is a justice issue.” 

Will the rest of the industry stand behind her value system? And will lawmakers take heed? That question will begin to play out when she joins the powerful trade organization on June 1. 

McMurry-Heath, who will take over the role previously held by the former Republican congressman Jim Greenwood, has worked on Democratic presidential campaigns, once served as an FDA official, and is the first Black person to graduate with an M.D.-Ph.d. from Duke University. 

Read more.

What can the adult film industry teach us about fighting coronavirus? 

Does the FDA approve Zoom backgrounds? And is it ethical to fund a study of yourself? We discuss all that and more this week on “The Readout LOUD,” STAT’s biotech podcast. First, STAT Washington correspondent Lev Facher dials in to discuss the emergence of Covid-19 within the White House, senatorial social distancing, and the latest whistleblower drama. 

Then, STAT contributor Usha Lee McFarling joins us to talk about how public health officials can learn from the porn industry about safety in the Covid-19 era. Finally, STAT's Sharon Begley calls in to discuss a years-in-the-making story about an audacious new attempt to treat Parkinson’s disease.

Listen here.

How much should Gilead actually charge for remdesivir? 

Experts across the globe are debating what constitutes a fair price for remdesivir, the Gilead Sciences antiviral being used to treat Covid-19. The company has actually downplayed the drug’s commercial potential and has said it'll ensure access — but the fact remains that Gilead will eventually have to set a price.

STAT spoke with leading thinkers on drug pricing about what the company should charge for the medicine — and how much of a revenue reward Gilead deserves for its investment. Their responses ran the gamut, from less than the cost of a movie ticket to $1,000 to a potentially far higher price. 

“It’s impossible to overpay for a truly effective drug, something that truly made it so that we could all go back to work,” said Craig Garthwaite, director of the health care department at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

Read more.

The rollout of Covid-19 vaccine may get messy

If all goes according to plan with Covid-19 vaccine development, the Trump administration hopes to have 300 million doses for domestic use by January 2021. And that, for the rest of the world, could be a problem.

Public health officials are increasingly worried that the United States will try to prioritize inoculations for low-risk individuals over high-risk health care workers and other vulnerable populations elsewhere in the world. Doing so, they warn, would set the stage for prolonged devastation in the rest globally. 

It's also possible, noted Tom Bollyky, director of the global health program at the Council on Foreign Relations, that “this may not be just a phenomenon of the U.S.”

Read more.

More reads

  • Why big investors aren't betting it all on a coronavirus cure. (Wall Street Journal)
  • U.S.-Israel biotech startup Immunai raises $20 million. (Reuters)
  • J&J-backed CAR-T biotech Legend guns for $100M IPO but sees CRS death in early trial. (FierceBiotech)

Thanks for reading! More next week,


Friday, May 15, 2020


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