Press review

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Data on monoclonal antibodies for Covid-19 expected next month

LONDON, 14 Aug (APM) - The Telegraph on Thursday ran a story on the potential of monoclonal antibodies in the treatment of Covid-19, saying that first results from trials are expected next month.
The paper said scientists hope the treatments will prevent the virus from reproducing inside human cells and could be used in the early stages of disease.
The article quoted Dr Nick Cammack, who is leading the search for coronavirus treatments at the UK's Wellcome Trust: "We do expect them to be effective, based both on previous experience with other pandemic-type viruses, but also preclinically in the lab with Covid-19. We expect them to be able to kill off the virus."
Cammack also said that monoclonal antibodies may be used prophylactically.
Companies developing monoclonal antibodies for Covid-19 include Regeneron and Eli Lilly, said the paper.

Concerns over Russian approval of coronavirus vaccine

Russia's approval of a coronavirus vaccine despite a lack of large-scale trials (APMHE 68510) was widely covered on Tuesday and Wednesday.
President Vladimir Putin hailed the vaccine, developed by Moscow's Gamaleya Institute, as safe and effective, claiming that it had been tested in one of his daughters, said papers, including The Times, The Guardian, The FT and the Telegraph.
All publications also noted concerns by experts and stakeholders that that vaccine, known as Sputnik V, has been rushed to approval ahead of Phase III trials (APMHE 68522).
The Guardian featured a comment piece from epidemiologist Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz, in which he said: [T]he only discernible difference between Russia’s vaccine and any of the others you’ve seen in the news is that this one has skipped most of the testing phases that come before licensing. We actually have no idea if it is safe and effective at all."
The Telegraph quoted Professor Francois Balloux of University College London’s Genetics Institute, who said: "This is a reckless and foolish decision. Mass vaccination with an improperly tested vaccine is unethical."
Robin Shattock, who is leading the vaccine programme at Imperial College London, told The Times the Russian approval was a "PR bid, most likely for domestic consumption".
And the FT reported comments from Germany's health minister Jens Spahn. "The problem is that we know very little because the Russian authorities are not being very transparent," he told a German radio station.
The Times had a follow-up piece on Thursday saying that Russia has hit back at the criticism.
It quoted the country's health minister Mikhail Murashko who said: "Foreign colleagues, having sensed certain competitive advantages of the Russian preparation, are trying to express some opinions which in our view are absolutely unfounded."
He added: "It is true that many countries have accelerated their research process in one way or another, yet the Russian vaccine is a solution based on certain clinical data."
The Telegraph on Thursday carried an article asking if Russia could "beat the UK to a Covid-19 vaccine".
It said the World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged caution over Russia's potential vaccine.
It referenced a document released by the WHO that shows the vaccine is far behind some of the other prospective vaccines.

China prioritises military for Covid-19 vaccine research

The FT on Monday reported that China is prioritising the military for potential Covid-10 vaccines.
The paper said that CanSino Biologics is already providing a vaccine to soldiers in the People's Liberation Army even though safety testing is not complete.

China's CanSino impresses on trading debut

Meanwhile, CanSino Biologics‘ shares more than doubled on its trading debut, the FT said on Thursday.
The newspaper said the Chinese coronavirus vaccine developer’s stock was up 127% on Shanghai's Star Market after it raised nearly $750 million in a secondary share offering.
The FT followed this up on Thursday with a wider story on the stock market performance of vaccine developers.
In addition to CanSino's debut surge, it said that Germany's CureVac is prepared to sell shares on the U.S. Nasdaq.
This is part of ambitions from companies to tap equity investors for funds to fight the virus, said the FT.
It referenced comments from EY's Martin Steinbach, who said 2020 has already been the most active year of the past 20 for vaccine-related IPOs, with six companies expected to have raised a collective $1.78 billion by the end of August.

Shares fall in Kodak after authorities hold back loan

The Times on Tuesday said shares in Kodak fell after the American International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) confirmed it was holding back a proposed $765 million government loan to help transform the former photography group into a pharmaceutical company (APMHE 68506).
The paper said the deal "raised eyebrows" as to why a generics company was not awarded the contract.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating how the deal was announced to investors, said the article.
This prompted the DFS to say: "Recent allegations of wrongdoing raise serious concerns. We will not proceed any further unless these allegations are cleared."

Questions on Kodak's pharma deal with U.S. government

The FT on Wednesday had a feature on Kodak's attempts to move into the pharmaceutical industry.
The company, which built its name on its photography business, was set to receive a $765 million loan from the U.S. government to pivot to making ingredients for generic drugs.
The article said this idea "looked far-fetched" and is now on hold after U.S. regulators said it had "serious concerns" about allegations of wrongdoing.
House Democrats, a board committee and, reportedly, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating activity by Kodak, said the FT.

UK signs supply deals for more coronavirus vaccines

The Times on Friday said the UK government has signed new deals to purchase 90 million doses of two potential coronavirus vaccines from Novavax and Johnson & Johnson (APMHE 68542).
The paper said the deal means the UK government will provide support for the UK-based Phase III clinical rials of a vaccine being developed by U.S. biotech Novavax. The vaccine is set to be produced in the UK and should provide the country with 60 million doses.
The UK will also help fund a global trial J&J's vaccine, with the potential to receive another 30 million doses.
In total, the UK has now placed orders for six experimental vaccines and about 340 million doses, said the paper.

U.S. agrees to buy 100 million doses of Moderna's coronavirus vaccine

The FT on Wednesday reported on the U.S. government's deal with Moderna to buy 100 million doses of its investigational coronavirus vaccine (APMHE 68519).
The paper said President Donald Trump also has an option to buy another 400 million doses, with the total value of the deal worth just over $1.5 billion. It follows a similar deal between the U.S. government and Pfizer.

U.S. health sector increases lobbying spend in 2020

The U.S. health sector spent nearly $250 million lobbying politicians, the Daily Mail reported on Wednesday.
the paper covered research by Brigham Young University that looked at lobbying expenditures in the fourth quarter of 2019 and the first quarter of 2020.
Results showed that lobbying spending hit $248.4 million between 1 January and 31 March, and 357 new lobbyist registrations were filed during this period.
This means health sector lobbying spending spiked by more than 10% in the first quarter, compared with non-health sector spending, which rose by only 1%.
Thee biggest increases came from the pharmaceutical industry, making up 16 of the top 30 healthcare organizations in lobbyist spending, said the paper, highlighting large increases in spending from companies such as AbbVie, Novartis and Biogen.

Priority review for Biogen's Alzheimer's drug

Biogen's aducanumab has been accepted for priority review in the U.S. as a potential treatment to delay the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, it was reported in The Times and the Telegraph on Monday.
The decision means the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will aims to make a decision on the drug in March next year (APMHE 68486).
Aducanumab is an antibody designed to target amyloid, a protein that builds up in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s at an early stage in the disease process. Early trials have shown the drug can lead to improvement in memory and language skills.
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