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The Readout Damian Garde

Pharma CEOs funding Republican senators

A small group of Republican senators are beneficiaries of some top pharma CEOs' donations, according to a STAT review of campaign finance reports. No major industry execs have contributed to any of the Democratic presidential candidates or President Trump’s reelection campaign, STAT’s Lev Facher writes

But pharma’s top brass is funding GOP legislators tasked with OK'ing a bill that lowers drug costs — and could potentially cost drug companies $85 billion in revenue in the next decade. 

“It’s clear that some number of these CEOs are trying to make sure that Republican candidates who might act on this issue choose not to take it up,” one policy wonk told STAT. “What you have here is an effort to make sure a popular issue with voters isn’t acted on.”

Read more.

AI churns out novel drug candidates in 46 days

It wasn’t that long ago that in silico drug development had its fair share of skeptics. But the artificial intelligence approach to finding new drug candidates is gaining both steam and esteem: Take this new paper in Nature Biotechnology, which shows how an AI tool can generate compounds able to hit a specific disease target — in only 46 days. 

The tool, called a generative adversarial network, has most famously been used to create eerily realistic fake photos of celebrities. Many drug companies are using these GANs to try to speed up their R&D processes — though, of course, none of these efforts has yet resulted in an FDA approval. 

Read more.

Biohackers contemplate growing up, at least a bit

Biohackers, traditionally, are about as anti-authoritarian as it gets. But they’re now selectively embracing mainstream science: Gathering this past weekend in Vegas at the Biohack the Planet conference, these folks — notorious for, like, CRISPR'ing themselves and whatnot — actually displayed scientific posters and debated the merits of peer review. One discussion, STAT’s Rebecca Robbins reports, involved creating a biohacker-style institutional review board.

As one biohacker put it: “I would like to propose that we grow up a little bit.” 

Read more.

Alexion's stock fluctuation at Amgen's hands

Ten days ago, Alexion Pharmaceuticals traded up after a Spanish news site published an article claiming that Amgen was preparing a buyout offer. That rumored deal never happened. But on Friday, the U.S. Patent Trials Appeals Board, acting on an Amgen request, agreed to start an inter partes review of several key patents covering Alexion’s blockbuster rare disease medicine Soliris.

So, yeah, Amgen and Alexion are getting into it, just not the way investors expected. Alexion shares fell 10% on Friday, giving up all that M&A-fueled upside, and also most of the stock’s gain for the entire year.

More reads

  • New Sanofi CEO wants to tap digital technology to improve drug research and sales. (STAT)
  • The FDA and Sarepta: a window into the real world of drug regulation. (STAT)

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


Tuesday, September 3, 2019


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