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The Readout Damian Garde & Meghana Keshavan

Good morning. Kate Sheridan here, sitting in for Damian Garde today. 


A new coronavirus accelerator

Three major groups are putting $125 million into a new effort to develop treatments against the novel coronavirus. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, and Mastercard’s charitable arm announced this morning that they’re launching the Covid-19 Therapeutics Accelerator.

Even $125 million likely won’t be enough to fully develop one drug, let alone multiple drugs. But the president of the Gates Foundation, Trevor Mundel, told STAT’s Matt Herper that he hopes the accelerator might be able to work with traditional drug companies and governments and the World Health Organization to speed up the process. 

“The companies that I've spoken to, including some of the big companies, one of their abiding fears is that anything they do in this area would be seen as some kind of price-gouging," Mundel said.

Read more.

The ultimate prepper

Since people seem to be buying up every antibacterial wipe and hand sanitizer bottle available in supermarkets and on Amazon, many are concerned that there won’t be enough supplies left for the health care workers who are actually treating people affected by Covid-19. 

The federal government, in theory, should be able to help. About $7 billion of emergency medical supplies — including 13 million N95 masks, which can protect health care professionals working with coronavirus patients — are stored in an undisclosed location (naturally). 

The government is already drawing on its reserves — but as STAT’s Lev Facher reports, some public health experts think it’s not acting fast enough. 

Read more.

Gilead’s new HIV prevention drug may be too expensive

A study published Monday and reported on by STAT’s Ed Silverman found that Gilead’s new HIV prevention drug, Descovy, could not be considered cost-effective unless its price was slashed nearly in half.   Gilead is releasing Descovy just as its other HIV prevention drug, Truvada, is about to lose patent protection this year. Descovy does seem to be slightly safer in some respects — but right now, it also seems to be far, far more expensive than the generic versions of Truvada will be. 

In response, Gilead said the study’s methodology’s conclusions were “inaccurate” ones that “severely underestimate the value” of the newer medicine.

Read more.

Whither Intarcia’s FDA decision?

More than two years ago, privately held biotech Intarcia Therapeutics received some of the worst news a company can get from the FDA. Instead of approving the company’s implant intended to treat type 2 diabetes, the FDA sent the company a complete response letter — basically, a rejection.

But complete response letters do allow the company to go back, fix whatever issues the regulator highlighted, and try again. That’s what Intarcia did back in October — and six months later, we’re all still waiting to see what happened this time. The PDUFA date was March 9, according to the company. 

An Intarcia spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

More reads

  • You could get paid $1,100 to test the first coronavirus vaccine (Business Insider)
  • Health stocks may offer shelter for investors in virus meltdown (Bloomberg)

Thanks for reading! Until tomorrow,

Tuesday, March 10, 2020


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