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The Readout Damian Garde & Meghana Keshavan

Is AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine in jeopardy? 

Why can’t politicians and scientists in Washington get along? And did you miss STAT’s first-ever Health Tech Summit? 

We discuss all that and more this week on “The Readout LOUD,” STAT’s biotech podcast. First, we’ll break down the big news of the week: the global pause on AstraZeneca’s Phase 3 trials of its Covid-19 vaccine due to a suspected adverse reaction in a participant in the U.K. 

Then, STAT’s Lev Facher joins us for an update on the charged politics of the Covid-19 response. Lastly, we’ll highlight three top moments from STAT’s inaugural Health Tech Summit, which took place virtually this week. 

Listen here.

J.P. Morgan is going virtual

There will be no rubbing of executive elbows in the crowded hallways of the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco this coming January. The 39th Annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference will be held virtually instead, the bank has told its clients. Instead of an in-person conference, J.P. Morgan will provide online access to its corporate presentations. It’ll also find a way to facilitate the one-on-one meetings that have been so critical for biotech deal-making.

Blood thinners for Covid-19 in Phase 3

The NIH has launched two Phase 3 trials to evaluate how blood thinners might help adults with Covid-19. The drugs, called ACTIV-4 Antithrombotics, are aimed specifically at treating Covid-19 patients with life-threatening blood clots. Researchers have found that many of the patients who died from Covid-19 had developed unusual blood clots throughout their bodies — leading to complications like organ damage, heart attack, and pulmonary embolism. 

Scientists have been studying anticoagulant drugs for Covid-19 patients for several months now, with preliminary results showing that these drugs have helped tame the disease somewhat. A third Phase 3 trial examining these blood thinners in Covid-19 is also in the works, focused on patients after they’ve been discharged from the hospital. 

Elizabeth Holmes may use mental health as a defense

Erstwhile Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes may pursue a “mental disease” defense in her criminal fraud trial this coming March, according to a new court document. Holmes and COO Sunny Balwani, a former boyfriend, could face up to 20 years in prison for their claims to diagnose disease based on a single drop of blood. 

Holmes’ lawyers now say they have evidence “relating to a mental disease or defect or any other mental condition of the defendant bearing on the issue of guilt.” This includes testimony from a psychological expert on trauma and violence against women. 

The ESMO recap, live!

Europe’s largest cancer research meeting, the ESMO Virtual Congress, takes place Sept. 19-21. STAT’s Adam Feuerstein will moderate a panel with top cancer experts to review significant data being presented at ESMO, discuss what to expect for the rest of the year in cancer clinical trials, and take your questions. The panel will be Wednesday, Sept. 23 at 1:30 p.m. ET/10:30 a.m. PT. 

Sign up here. 

More reads

  • Casma Therapeutics brings in another $50 million to target muscular dystrophy. (STAT
  • Novartis and Roche are fined $528 million for anti-competitive practices in France. (STAT)
  • Opinion: ‘Hell has frozen over’: The pharmaceutical industry stands in for an impaired FDA. (STAT
  • Korro Bio raises $90 million to fix mutations that cause diseases. (STAT)

Thanks for reading! More next week,


Friday, September 11, 2020


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