A Fast-Moving Virus Pits Treating Patients Against Finding a Cure

Bloomberg | April 05, 2020

A Fast-Moving Virus Pits Treating Patients Against Finding a Cure
The frenzied hunt for drugs to ease Covid-19 could make it more difficult for scientists to find lasting treatments. Pharmaceutical-research experts are raising concerns that attempts to offer desperate coronavirus patients some form of treatment may hobble crucial studies of which drugs actually work and which ones don't. More than 100 off-the-shelf and experimental therapies are being tested either formally or informally for the coronavirus disease, including hydroxychloroquine, the antimalarial touted as a treatment by President Donald Trump, and remdesivir, an experimental drug from biotechnology company Gilead Sciences Inc. There are so many even coronavirus experts can barely keep track. The huge field of potential treatments represents a mobilization of medical science that has few historical parallels. But with tens of thousands of patients in the U.S. hospitalized and no proven drugs to treat them, the crisis has exacerbated an always-present tension in the parallel worlds of caring for patients and looking for new therapies: that what might seem best for an individual patient can undercut a research effort that will benefit the greater public good.

Spotlight

Healthcare in the United States is and always has been a complex system. This complexity is ever increasing as value-based purchasing and population health management transform our hospital-centric industry into one focused on the continuum of care.`

Related News

GlaxoSmithKline jumps into myeloma with 'homemade' anti-BCMA drug Blenrep

GlaxoSmithKline | August 07, 2020

Back in 2015, GlaxoSmithKline traded away its marketed cancer assets and began building its oncology pipeline “pretty aggressively,” as Axel Hoos, the company’s SVP of Oncology R&D, puts it. Those efforts have finally paid off with a new approval. But just how much remains to be seen, with analysts expecting "limited adoption" for the company's newcomer thanks to a Black Box warning for eye toxicity. The FDA late Wednesday green-lighted Blenrep—formerly known as belantamab mafodotin—a first-in-class antibody-drug conjugate for multiple myeloma patients who have already tried four other options, including an anti-CD38 monoclonal antibody, a proteasome inhibitor and an immunomodulatory agent.

Read More

PHARMA TECH

AstraZeneca's Calquence fails COVID-19 study, joining the list of repurposed meds that have fallen short

AstraZeneca | November 13, 2020

Months after drugmakers launched an unprecedented COVID-19 research effort, some existing medicines have turned in promising results—but more of them have failed against the virus. And AstraZeneca’s blood cancer med Calquence just became one of them, falling short in two tests in hospitalized patients. AstraZeneca said Thursday that the medicine—already approved in mantle cell lymphoma—didn't help patients survive the virus and reduce respiratory failure any better than supportive care did, citing data from two phase 2 trials. The company set out to test the medicine back in April after researchers at the NIH’s National Cancer Institute observed “some clinical benefit” when the drug was used in a small number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients with advanced lung disease at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Forbes reported at the time.

Read More

Alexion bets $1.4B on Portola and its laggard bleeding drug Andexxa

Fiercepharma | May 05, 2020

Alexion has made no secret of its plan to diversify beyond its blockbuster rare disease franchise. Now, the company has taken a flier out on a disappointing drug that targets severe bleeding—and it's hoping to parlay its hospital contacts into a sales boost that'll appease unruly investors. Alexion agreed to buy Portola Pharmaceuticals and its sole approved medicine, anticoagulant reversal agent Andexxa, in a deal valued at around $1.4 billion, the drugmakers said Monday. That's $18 per share in cash—a 131% premium on Portola's Monday closing price of $7.76 per share. The Portola buyout will take Alexion beyond a rare-disease portfolio dominated by blockbuster C5-inhibitor Soliris and follow-up drug Ultomiris. The centerpiece of the deal is a bleeding reversal agent, Andexxa, designed for patients using two common anticoagulant drugs, Xarelto and Eliquis. So far, Andexxa has delivered disappointing sales, but Alexion still sees promise—even if it'll take a while for that promise to pay off.

Read More

Spotlight

Healthcare in the United States is and always has been a complex system. This complexity is ever increasing as value-based purchasing and population health management transform our hospital-centric industry into one focused on the continuum of care.`