Rise and shine, everyone, another busy day is on the way. Even so, there is nothing like a pleasant morning to lift the spirits. A cool breeze and warm sun are enveloping the Pharmalot campus as we hunker down and sift through our ever-growing to-do list. A familiar exercise, yes? Well, time to get cracking. So please join us for a daily ritual — a few cups of stimulation — and do keep us in mind if you hear something fascinating. Meanwhile, here are your tidbits. Dig in and have a grand day. …
A closely watched Covid-19 vaccine invented by CureVac (CVAC) was just 47% effective in a large trial at its interim analysis, a disappointing result that may highlight the challenge posed by virus variants, The Washington Post writes. The results of the 40,000-person trial mark a setback for a promising vaccine based on messenger RNA technology, the same approach at the core of the Pfizer (PFE)-BioNTech (BNTX) and Moderna (MRNA) vaccines authorized late last year for use in the U.S. Europe has pre-ordered 225 million doses.
NextSource Biotechnology, which markets the Gleostine brain cancer drug, has pulled out of a federal discount program for Medicare patients, leaving some struggling to pay for a therapy that can cost as much as $1,000 per capsule, The Wall Street Journal reports. The decision to leave the program, rendering its drug ineligible for the Medicare Part D drug benefit, comes after the company raised the price of the drug exponentially since acquiring rights in 2013. Gleostine is off-patent but has no generic alternative.
U.S. prescription drug spending will jump at least 8% by the mid-2020s as the controversial Biogen (BIIB) Alzheimer’s disease drug hits the market, Modern Healthcare writes, citing a new analysis. The intravenous drug, marketed under the name Aduhelm, will comprise more than 1% of all national health spending by the mid-2020s, according to the report released Wednesday by the not-for-profit research group Altarum. It will grow non-retail drug spending — on medications administered in hospitals or clinics — by at least 25%.
The Open Society Foundations, one of the world’s largest backers of public health initiatives, is undergoing a “significant” reorganization that will affect grant decision-making, a shift that has created anxiety among advocacy groups that work on access to medicines, STAT says. The changes at the OSF, which was founded by billionaire philanthropist George Soros, are still being finalized, although grants will be handled by different OSF offices, according to a foundation spokesperson, who insisted “it is too early to tell” how advocacy groups will be affected.
A U.S. federal judge denied a Health and Human Services Department motion to toss a lawsuit filed by AstraZeneca (AZN) over the 340B drug discount program, Bloomberg News reports. HHS had issued an advisory opinion stating drug makers must offer discounts to participate, but the companies said they sought to curtail duplicate billings, diversions, and ineligible rebates. Some cut discounts if hospitals buy medicines and then ship them to retail or specialty pharmacies, instead of dispensing the drugs through their own in-house pharmacies.
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