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The Readout Damian Garde & Meghana Keshavan

Is it wise to lie to the feds?

Is pharma taking Sen. Bernie Sanders seriously? And what constitutes a "public health emergency of international concern?"

We discuss all that and more on the latest episode of “The Readout LOUD,” STAT’s biotech podcast. First, we break down the bizarre story of the high-profile Harvard chemist charged with lying to the FBI about pocketing thousands of dollars from the Chinese government. Then, STAT's Helen Branswell joins us for an update on efforts to contain the novel coronavirus spreading around the world. Later, STAT Washington correspondent Lev Facher calls in to talk about Sanders' rise in the polls and how the issue of drug pricing is shaping the race for the Democratic nomination.

You can find the episode here.

Also: We're coming up on the 100th episode of the podcast, and we're using the occasion to actualize our long-held dream of running a call-in show. Dial us at 617-517-6130 and leave a message with any question you'd like us to answer on the podcast, and you may just hear it on air in the coming weeks.

Where's that aducanumab filing, Biogen?

For many months, the science world thought aducanumab dead. Then, this fall, Biogen announced that it would resurrect the controversial Alzheimer’s drug — with plans to file for FDA approval in early 2020. Now, we’re on the cusp of February, and there’s no filing in sight. Rather, the company said in its earnings call yesterday that it planned to submit “as soon as possible” — which, as STAT’s Adam Feuerstein writes, is decidedly “squishy.” 

Biogen’s chief medical officer pointed out to investors that it’s not particularly difficult, after all, to complete a filing at this point — just a “matter of putting together documentation.” 

So what’s the holdup? 

Read more.

U.K. patients missing out on novel cancer therapies

Gobs of novel cancer drugs have been approved in the past two decades. But very few are actually reaching the British patients who need them, STAT’s Ed Silverman writes — and both drug makers and European regulators are to blame.

Drug makers didn’t develop enough innovative treatments for the cancers with the highest unmet medical need in the U.K., according to a review of 97 cancer drugs authorized by the European Medicines Agency between 2000 and 2016. Furthermore, the time it took between patent filing and clinical trial launch rose from two years to three years. And the development of highly innovative drugs progresses far slower than that of “me too,” low-innovation drugs.

Read more.

Monitoring diversity in biotech

Diversity is high on the agenda of many biotechs these days. So BIO has done an audit of 100 companies — parsing apart, for the first time, how the industry’s doing in terms of gender and minority inclusion. Some interesting facts: About 45% of all employees are female, but that figure diminishes in positions of power. About 30% of executives, and just 18% of board members, are women. 

Meanwhile, about 32% of employees, 15% of executives, and 14% of board members are people of color. The report noted that startups tend to be more diverse at all levels than the larger public companies. 

The effort to track diversity has been ongoing for the past three years, in the wake of the cocktail waitress kerfuffle at the 2016 J.P. Morgan Healthcare conference in San Francisco. Since then, companies throughout the industry say they have upped their efforts at improving diversity — with, per the soon-to-be-annual BIO report, 80% of employees and 73% of leaders demonstrating a commitment to improving this situation. 

Readout

  • Medical data startup Syapse cuts 10% of workforce as it shifts strategy. (STAT)
  • Roche dumps antisense hep B drug after bagging rival asset. (FierceBiotech)

Thanks for reading! Have a great weekend,

Damian

Friday, January 31, 2020

STAT

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