Sponsored by


The Readout Damian Garde & Meghana Keshavan

Stop asking what Vertex is going to buy

Vertex Pharmaceuticals has an enviable business, an early-stage pipeline, and about $6 billion in cash. That combination brings Wall Street to an oft-repeated question: What are you going to buy?

But to Reshma Kewalramani, the company’s CEO, the very premise of that question implies that “a big deal is needed for growth, and I just fundamentally disagree with that.”

Speaking at the STAT Summit yesterday, Kewalramani pointed out that the company’s approved cystic fibrosis medicines still have room to grow. The company’s pipeline includes four medicines already in Phase 2, and Vertex’s most audacious project, a potential cure for Type 1 diabetes, is slated to enter the clinic next year.

“I do think that there are now tools in our toolbox — or as I like to say, jewels in our jewelry box — that move us toward curative therapies,” she said.

What does Amazon Pharmacy mean for the drug industry?

The launch of Amazon Pharmacy — the shipping giant's new prescription delivery business — is likely to ramp up the pressure on traditional industry players like brick-and-mortar drugstores and mail-order pharmacies to compete.

Industry observes say Amazon's debut could force other companies to bolster their branding and make prices more transparent to keep customers from taking their orders elsewhere. Competition in the field was already heating up due, in part, to pharmacy delivery startups like Hims & Hers and Ro,  which cater to younger customers with cash pricing and simple but eye-catching packaging.

“Bottom line, pharmacy already faced many secular tailwinds that Amazon may amplify or accelerate,” the firm’s Eric Coldwell and Evan Stover wrote in a note.

Read more.

AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine shines in Phase 2

AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine appears to induce as much of an immune response in older adults as it does in those under the age of 65, and is better tolerated in the older group, a study published Thursday in The Lancet reports. 

The Phase 2 trial, conducted in Britain, compared immunogenicity and safety data across three age groups: adults 18 to 55, 56 to 69, and 70 and older. Similar antibody and cellular immune responses were recorded across all the age groups, “which could support the use of this vaccine in [the] older age group, if it is shown to be protective in Phase 3 trials,” the authors wrote. 

They noted, though, that the older adults in the trial had an average age of 73 or 74 years, and had few underlying health conditions. Almost all the participants in the trial were white and were non-smokers, so the results might not extrapolate to the general public. The authors said Phase 3 trials of the vaccine would be more representative of the general population and would include people over the age of 80 who had health conditions.

House passes bill to close orphan drug loophole

The House has passed a bill that would close a loophole that critics say inadvertently allowed some drug manufacturers to unfairly monopolize a market.

At issue is a provision in the Orphan Drug Act that provides seven years of exclusivity to drug makers that do not expect to recover their research and development costs with sales on these drugs. Critics of that provision, however, say the language allowed companies to rework an older drug but claim orphan status when seeking FDA approval for a new version. 

“This loophole is now being used to block new therapies from coming to the market that could aid in the opioid epidemic,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.), a co-sponsor of the bill.

Read more.

More reads

  • Self-interest nudged me to join Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine trial. Here’s how it’s going. (STAT)
  • Pfizer offers Brazil deal for millions of vaccine doses. (Reuters)
  • Gilead touts pivotal data for new kind of HIV therapy, opening towards large potential market. (Endpoints)

Thanks for reading! Until tomorrow,

Thursday, November 19, 2020


Facebook   Twitter   YouTube   Instagram

1 Exchange Pl, Suite 201, Boston, MA 02109
©2020, All Rights Reserved.
I no longer wish to receive STAT emails
Update Email Preferences | Contact Us
5cQ.gif?contact_status=<<Contact Status>>