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The Readout Damian Garde & Meghana Keshavan

First monthly injection to treat HIV infection approved

The standard treatment regimen for HIV involves taking pills every single day. That’s about to change: The FDA just approved Cabenuva, an extended-release injectable drug for adults with HIV. The medicine, made by Viiv Healthcare — a joint venture between GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer — is meant to be administered monthly. The hope is that this drug, called cabotegravir, could improve adherence among patients with the virus. 

U.S. regulators also approved a cabotegravir pill from Viiv called Vocabria — which is meant to be taken in tandem with Janssen’s HIV drug Edurant for a month leading up to beginning Cabenuva. This is meant to ensure that the medication is well-tolerated before a switch to the monthly injection.

Read more

What does it mean to be the 'Meryl Streep of journalism'?

How do monkeys and Microsoft Word explain CRISPR? And who had more jobs: the LRRK2 kinase or Jared Kushner? 

We discuss all that and more this week on “The Readout LOUD,” STAT’s biotech podcast. We're spending this entire episode remembering Sharon Begley, our revered and beloved colleague who died last week from complications of lung cancer. First, STAT's Eric Boodman joins us to discuss Sharon's path-breaking career and what he learned from reporting out her obituary. Then, a trio of STAT of editors call in to talk about what it was like to work with Sharon, and we hear from number of her colleagues about what made her a singular writer, mentor, officemate, and friend.

Listen here.

Lilly’s antibody works as a Covid-19 prophylactic

Eli Lilly’s monoclonal antibody bamlanivimab prevented Covid-19 infections among nursing home residents and staff in a clinical trial, STAT’s Matthew Herper writes. It marks the first time that an antibody drug has been shown to prevent infection. The results were only available in a press release, but the company plans on publishing the data in a paper as soon as it’s able. 

The drug was given emergency use authorization in November to treat Covid-19 patients at higher risk of severe disease. But Lilly believes the drug could also be used as a prophylactic in certain circumstances. 

“Of course, I think the vaccines are than prophylaxis and likely longer lasting,” Lilly’s CSO told STAT. “So this should not be seen in any way as a competition to vaccines. It should be for when it’s too late, when there’s an outbreak and people are getting exposed and there’s not going to be time for a vaccine to work.” 

Read more. 

Understanding Covid-19 vaccine anaphylaxis 

Almost immediately after the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was cleared for general use, a smattering of cases of anaphylaxis sprung up — and hackles were immediately raised. A new JAMA paper delves into the details these severe allergic reactions. 

It found that of 1,893,360 first doses of the double-dose inoculation, 21 cases of anaphylaxis were reported. That translates to about 11 cases per million doses administered — suggesting that the risks of this particular adverse reaction are really quite low. None of the patients died, though most had never experienced anaphylaxis before — though 81% had some sort of allergy to a separate substance. 

More reads

  • Canada’s drug makers rattle their sabers over a government plan to control medicine spending. (STAT)
  • CDC says Abbott's Covid-19 test may miss symptomless cases. (FierceBiotech)

Thanks for reading! More next week,

Damian

Friday, January 22, 2021

STAT

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