Hos­pi­tals re­port ‘se­vere short­ages’ of Covid-19 tests, HHS sur­vey finds

The US De­part­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices’ (HHS) Of­fice of In­spec­tor Gen­er­al (OIG) on Mon­day re­leased the re­sults of tele­phone sur­vey of 323 hos­pi­tals across 46 states, the Dis­trict of Co­lum­bia and Puer­to Ri­co, find­ing “se­vere short­ages of test­ing sup­plies and ex­tend­ed waits for test re­sults.”

Hos­pi­tals re­port­ed that they were un­able to keep up with COVID-19 test­ing de­mands be­cause they lacked com­plete kits and/or the in­di­vid­ual com­po­nents and sup­plies need­ed to com­plete tests, in­clud­ing nasal swabs, vi­ral trans­fer me­dia and reagents used to de­tect the virus.

“One hos­pi­tal ad­min­is­tra­tor said that across the in­dus­try, ‘mil­lions [of tests] are need­ed, and we on­ly have hun­dreds.’ With­out ac­cess to need­ed test­ing ma­te­ri­als, some hos­pi­tals de­scribed di­vid­ing the me­dia in COVID-19 kits in half to dou­ble their ca­pac­i­ty and re­sort­ing to us­ing the trans­fer me­dia in flu and strep kits to pro­vide test­ing,” the re­port says.

The re­port comes as Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said last week, on a call with gov­er­nors: “I haven’t heard about test­ing be­ing a prob­lem.”

In ad­di­tion to the short­ages of the tests, hos­pi­tals re­port­ed fre­quent­ly wait­ing sev­en days or longer for test re­sults, and when pa­tient stays were ex­tend­ed while await­ing their re­sults, bed avail­abil­i­ty be­comes strained, as do per­son­al pro­tec­tive equip­ment (PPE) sup­plies and staffing.

“Hos­pi­tals’ re­liance on ex­ter­nal lab­o­ra­to­ries con­tributed to de­lays, par­tic­u­lar­ly as these lab­o­ra­to­ries be­came over­whelmed with tests to process from around the State or coun­try,” the re­port finds.

The sur­vey, con­duct­ed 23-27 March, al­so found hos­pi­tals re­port­ing “wide­spread short­ages” of PPE that put staff and pa­tients at risk. Oth­er sup­plies are in short­age too, such as in­tra­venous ther­a­py (IV) poles, med­ical gas, linens, toi­let pa­per and food, the re­port says. Oth­ers re­port­ed short­ages of no-touch in­frared ther­mome­ters, dis­in­fec­tants and clean­ing sup­plies.

As for ven­ti­la­tors, the sur­vey says that hos­pi­tals “re­port­ed an un­cer­tain sup­ply of stan­dard, full-fea­ture ven­ti­la­tors and in some cas­es used al­ter­na­tives to sup­port pa­tients, in­clud­ing adapt­ing anes­the­sia ma­chines and us­ing sin­gle-use emer­gency trans­port ven­ti­la­tors. Hos­pi­tals an­tic­i­pat­ed that ven­ti­la­tor short­ages would pose dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions about eth­i­cal al­lo­ca­tion and li­a­bil­i­ty, al­though at the time of our sur­vey no hos­pi­tal re­port­ed lim­it­ing ven­ti­la­tor use.”


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Bio­mark­er 'roadmap­s' and the fu­ture of can­cer R&D; Cur­tain rais­es on #AS­CO22; Pfiz­er, No­var­tis tack­le drug ac­cess; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

While this was not a week for earth-shattering news, there were certainly a lot of interesting tidbits. If you found this recap helpful, please recommend it to your friends and colleagues. We’ll see you on the other side of the long weekend.

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Keep­ing pres­sure on Am­gen, Mi­rati draws mixed re­views on lat­est cut of KRAS da­ta

As the close runner-up to Amgen’s Lumakras in the KRAS race, any data cut from Mirati’s adagrasib continues to draw scrutiny from analysts. And the latest batch of numbers from ASCO is a decidedly mixed bag.

While a quick comparison suggests that adagrasib spurred slightly more responses and led to a longer overall survival than Lumakras among a group of non-small cell lung cancer patients, its duration of response appears shorter and the safety profile continues to spark concern.

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Switzer­land to de­stroy over 600,000 ex­pired dos­es of Mod­er­na Covid vac­cine

As concerns related to uptake and distribution continue to linger, Switzerland is among the first countries that plans to destroy hundreds of thousands of expired and unused Covid-19 vaccine doses.

The European country said it plans to destroy more than 600,000 doses of Moderna’s Spikevax Covid-19 vaccine as the doses have reached their expiration date.

However, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland that he’s in the process of throwing 30 million doses in the garbage, exclaiming, “We have a big demand problem.”

Ann is one of ViiV Healthcare's newest spokespeople as the retired school administrator speaks up about her HIV status.

GSK's Vi­iV de­buts next evo­lu­tion in HIV med Dova­to cam­paign with new spokes­peo­ple and new mes­sage

When Ann saw the first TV commercials for HIV medicine Dovato, she didn’t see herself represented. So the 74-year-old retired school administrator who’s been living with HIV since 1998, reached out to GSK’s ViiV Healthcare and asked why not?

Now Ann is one of three people starring in ViiV’s latest Dovato campaign called “Detect This.” The next-step evolution in the branded campaign plays on the word “detect” — often used in describing HIV status under control as undetectable — but in this case, uses the word as a directive for people to understand they can use fewer medicines.

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Tran­si­tion to new Eu­ro­pean clin­i­cal tri­als in­fo sys­tem starts slow­ly

At the end of January, the European Medicines Agency officially launched its new clinical trials info system (CTIS), although the migration to the new platform has only really just begun, and sponsors have until the end of January 2023 before all initial trial applications must be submitted through CTIS.

Overall, 56 clinical trial applications have been submitted in CTIS during the first 3 months since the launch of the system on Jan. 31, according to new data posted by the EMA. By comparison, about 4,000 new trials are authorized each year across Europe.

Covid-19 roundup: CDC study shows good pro­tec­tion from mR­NA boost­er plus J&J's sin­gle-dose vac­cine; White House launch­es test-to-treat Paxlovid site

Concerns about rare but life-threatening blood clots have limited the use of J&J’s Covid-19 vaccine — once pitched as the only one-shot option in the mix — with the FDA cutting it off except in limited circumstances. Yet there’s some good news for those who did receive it: A single booster dose of an mRNA vaccine for recipients of a single priming dose of Ad26.COV2.S (the J&J vaccine) provided protection close to that of a three-dose mRNA vaccine regimen.

Nassim Usman, Catalyst Biosciences CEO

Af­ter $60M Ver­tex deal, group of Cat­a­lyst share­hold­ers claims biotech could’ve sold as­sets three years ago

Catalyst Biosciences was down to five employees in March, and the biotech needed to do something after two rounds of layoffs, a nixed collaboration and a culling of its hemophilia program.

In came Vertex, with $60 million to buy up the South San Francisco biotech’s preclinical complement drugs, which target the system that bridges the body’s innate and adaptive immune response and a class most known for Ultomiris and Soliris. The deal includes CB 2782-PEG, the dry AMD drug that Biogen no longer wanted in March.

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Lina Khan, FTC chair (Graeme Jennings/Pool via AP Images)

Pile-on over PBMs con­tin­ues with FTC com­ments and a new bi­par­ti­san Sen­ate bill

More than 500 stakeholders sent comments to the FTC on whether the commission should look further into pharma middlemen, known as PBMs, with many of the commenters calling for more federal oversight.

Similar to the critical open comment period in a deadlocked FTC session last February, pharmacies and pharmacy groups are continuing to call out the lack of transparency among the top 3 PBMs, which control about 80% of the market.

Pharma brands are losing their shine with US consumers who are now thinking about the economy and inflation instead of Covid. (Credit: Shutterstock)

Phar­ma brands fade in an­nu­al Har­ris con­sumer vis­i­bil­i­ty poll: Mod­er­na drops off and Pfiz­er dips

As Covid-19 concerns are fading in the US, so is biopharma visibility. The annual Axios Harris Poll survey to determine and rank the 100 most top-of-mind brands in the US finds Moderna, which was No. 3 last year, not on the list at all for 2022, and Pfizer sinking 37 spots.

However, it’s not that Moderna or Pfizer did anything wrong, it’s just that Americans have moved on to other worries beyond Covid.

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