House Dems call on the FTC to in­ves­ti­gate po­ten­tial col­lu­sion among top three in­sulin man­u­fac­tur­ers

Strik­ing while the iron is hot, six House De­moc­rats sent a let­ter Thurs­day to the act­ing chair­woman of the FTC (10 days af­ter the FTC said it would crack down on phar­ma merg­ers), call­ing for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­to the po­ten­tial col­lu­sion of in­sulin mar­ket lead­ers Eli Lil­ly, Sanofi and No­vo Nordisk.

Katie Porter

Led by Rep. Katie Porter of Cal­i­for­nia, the let­ter notes that the three com­pa­nies raised the prices of their in­sulins in lock­step, and be­tween 2012 and 2016, the price of in­sulin al­most dou­bled. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and the late Rep. Eli­jah Cum­mings of Mary­land sent a let­ter to the FTC rais­ing sim­i­lar charges of col­lu­sion among the same three com­pa­nies in 2016.

“It is a unique­ly Amer­i­can phe­nom­e­non that pa­tients with di­a­betes are reg­u­lar­ly forced to ra­tion in­sulin and risk death,” wrote Porter, along with De­mo­c­ra­t­ic Reps. Lloyd Doggett (TX), Cori Bush (MO), Prami­la Jaya­pal (WA), Pe­ter Welch (VT), and Ro Khan­na (CA).

Last March, the FDA of­fi­cial­ly tran­si­tioned in­sulin prod­ucts from all three com­pa­nies from drugs to bi­o­log­ics, mean­ing com­pe­ti­tion would have to come in the form of biosim­i­lars, or even in­ter­change­able biosim­i­lars, rather than gener­ics.

Scott Got­tlieb

“The tran­si­tion of in­sulin from the drug to the bi­o­log­ics path­way will open up these prod­ucts to biosim­i­lar com­pe­ti­tion,” for­mer FDA com­mis­sion­er Scott Got­tlieb said in April 2019. “We’re al­ready see­ing ro­bust ac­tiv­i­ty among spon­sors seek­ing to bring for­ward biosim­i­lar copies of in­sulin.”

But one year since that tran­si­tion oc­curred, and the fruits of that ac­tiv­i­ty have not trans­lat­ed in­to new in­sulin biosim­i­lars yet.

For now, the House De­moc­rats are call­ing on the Biden ad­min­is­tra­tion to do some­thing, say­ing any ac­tion would align with its “com­mit­ment to equal­i­ty” as Black Amer­i­cans are fac­ing an epi­dem­ic of am­pu­ta­tions “large­ly caused by ex­or­bi­tant in­sulin prices,” the De­moc­rats wrote.

“It is clear that the in­sulin mar­ket is bro­ken, and we be­lieve that an FTC in­ves­ti­ga­tion and in­ter­ven­tion is long over­due,” they added.

IDC: Life Sci­ences Firms Must Em­brace Dig­i­tal Trans­for­ma­tion Now

Pre-pandemic, the life sciences industry had settled into a pattern. The average drug took 12 years and $2.9 billion to bring to market, and it was an acceptable mode of operations, according to Nimita Limaye, Research Vice President for Life Sciences R&D Strategy and Technology at IDC.

COVID-19 changed that, and served as a proof-of-concept for how technology can truly help life sciences companies succeed and grow, Limaye said. She recently spoke about industry trends at Egnyte’s Life Sciences Summit 2022. You should watch the entire session, free and on-demand, but here’s a brief recap of why she’s urging life sciences companies to embrace digital transformation.

Bayer's first DTC ad campaign for chronic kidney disease drug Kerendia spells out its benefits

Bay­er aims to sim­pli­fy the com­plex­i­ties of CKD with an ABC-themed ad cam­paign

Do you know the ABCs of CKD in T2D? Bayer’s first ad campaign for Kerendia tackles the complexity of chronic kidney disease with a play on the acronym (CKD) and its connection to type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Kerendia was approved last year as the first and only non-steroidal mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist to treat CKD in people with type 2 diabetes.

In the TV commercial launched this week, A is for awareness, B is for belief and C is for cardiovascular, explained in the ad as awareness of the connection between type 2 and kidney disease, belief that something can be done about it, and cardiovascular events that may be reduced with treatment.

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James Mock, incoming CFO at Moderna

Mod­er­na taps new CFO from PerkinElmer af­ter for­mer one-day CFO oust­ed

When Moderna hired a new CFO last year,  it didn’t expect to see him gone after only one day. Today the biotech named his — likely much more vetted — replacement.

The mRNA company put out word early Wednesday that after the untimely departure of then brand-new CFO Jorge Gomez, it has now found a replacement in James Mock, the soon-to-be former CFO at diagnostics and analytics company PerkinElmer.

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Tom Barnes, Orna Therapeutics CEO

UP­DAT­ED: 'We have failed to fail': Mer­ck gam­bles $250M cash on a next-gen ap­proach to mR­NA — af­ter punt­ing its big al­liance with Mod­er­na

Merck went in deep on its collaboration with Moderna on new mRNA programs, and dropped them all over time, including their RSV partnership. But after writing off what turned out as one of the most successful infectious disease players in the business, Merck is coming in this morning with a new preclinical alliance — this time embracing a biotech that hopes to eventually outdo the famously successful mRNA in a new run at vaccines and therapeutics.

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Joe Jonas (Photo by Anthony Behar/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

So­lo Jonas broth­er car­ries Merz's new tune in Botox ri­val cam­paign

As the lyrics of his band’s 2019 pop-rock single suggest, Joe Jonas is only human — and that means even he gets frown lines. The 33-year-old singer-songwriter is Merz’s newest celebrity brand partner for its Botox rival Xeomin, as medical aesthetics brands target a younger audience.

Merz kicked off its “Beauty on Your Terms” campaign on Tuesday, featuring the Jonas brother in a video ad for its double-filtered anti-wrinkle injection Xeomin.

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Paul Perreault, CSL Behring CEO

CSL CEO Paul Per­reault de­ter­mined to grow plas­ma col­lec­tion af­ter full-year sales dip

As the ink dries on CSL’s $11.7 billion Vifor buyout, the company posted a dip in profits, due in part to a drop in plasma donations amid the pandemic.

However, CEO Paul Perreault assured investors and analysts on the full-year call that the team has left “no stone unturned” when assessing options to grow plasma volumes. The chief executive also spelled out positive results for the company’s monoclonal antibody garadacimab in hereditary angioedema (HAE), though he isn’t revealing the exact numbers just yet.

Blaise Coleman, Endo International CEO

En­do files for Chap­ter 11 as it looks to fin­ish off its opi­oid lit­i­ga­tion

Irish drugmaker Endo International is entering into bankruptcy as it faces the weight of serious litigation related to its involvement in the opioid epidemic in the US.

The company has filed Chapter 11 proceedings in the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, with the company expected to file recognition proceedings in Canada, the UK and Australia. The company’s bankruptcy filing showed the company had assets and liabilities in the range of $1 billion to $10 billion.

Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF’s supply division

GSK lands first-ever UNICEF con­tract for malar­ia vac­cine worth $170M

GSK has landed a new first from UNICEF the first-ever contract for malaria vaccines, worth up to $170 million for 18 million vaccine doses distributed over the next three years.

The vaccine, known as Mosquirix or RTS,S, won WHO’s backing last October after a controversial start, but UNICEF said these doses will potentially save thousands of lives every year.

“We hope this is just the beginning,” Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF’s supply division, said. “Continued innovation is needed to develop new and next-generation vaccines to increase available supply, and enable a healthier vaccine market. This is a giant step forward in our collective efforts to save children’s lives and reduce the burden of malaria as part of wider malaria prevention and control programmes.”

Governor John Carney, Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long, Mayor Kenneth Branner, Jr., Delaware Prosperity Partnership President Kurt Foreman, WuXi AppTec Chairman and CEO Ge Li, WuXi AppTec Co-CEO and WuXi STA CEO Minzhang Chen, and others celebrate the groundbreaking for the WuXi STA Middletown campus.

WuXi breaks ground on Delaware fa­cil­i­ty, boost­ing its US pres­ence

While Middletown, Delaware’s main claim to fame was the site location for the film the Dead Poets Society, the city will soon play host to a massive manufacturing outfit.

WuXi AppTec’s contract research and manufacturing subsidiary WuXi STA, has broken ground on a 190-acre manufacturing campus in Middletown.

According to the company, this site will be WuXi’s second facility in the US, and it will create around 500 full-time jobs by 2026, but there are plans to kick off operations in 2025.