Actor Jason Alexander plays a guardian angel in the new Sanofi and American Nurses Association's 'Not Today, Flu' campaign

'Not To­day, Flu': Sanofi en­lists Se­in­feld star Ja­son Alexan­der to boost flu vac­ci­na­tions this fall

“Se­in­feld” ac­tor Ja­son Alexan­der takes a turn as a guardian an­gel in a new Sanofi cam­paign to en­cour­age flu vac­ci­na­tions.

Known for his fun­ny, off­beat George Costan­za char­ac­ter, Alexan­der takes on a sweet­er though still hu­mor­ous role pro­tect­ing his charge from “life’s lit­tle dis­as­ters.” As he catch­es falling pi­geon poop in his hat, swaps ex­pired milk and fends off in­sects, he com­pares his guardian an­gel role to flu im­mu­niza­tion.

“Pro­tec­tion like this doesn’t have to be su­per­nat­ur­al. Be­cause just like me, a flu shot can help pre­vent nasty com­pli­ca­tions from the flu — like pneu­mo­nia, heart at­tack and stroke,” he says in the on­line video.

The Sanofi aware­ness cam­paign called “Not To­day, Flu” in part­ner­ship with the Amer­i­can Nurs­es As­so­ci­a­tion is aimed at in­creas­ing flu vac­ci­na­tions in what is ex­pect­ed to be a dif­fi­cult and po­ten­tial­ly longer flu sea­son.

The 2021 fall in­fluen­za sea­son was mut­ed by self-im­posed so­cial dis­tanc­ing be­cause of the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic. How­ev­er, a late resur­gence through June, along with a big uptick in 2022 flu cas­es in the south­ern half of the world, has of­fi­cials con­cerned about the just-be­gin­ning sea­son north of the Equa­tor.

Ken Pauli­no

“We need to en­sure that there’s a good pub­lic health re­sponse out there to get pa­tients and in­di­vid­u­als im­mu­nized — and put the fo­cus back on get­ting flu shots on an an­nu­al ba­sis in do­ing our part to pre­vent a po­ten­tial­ly bad in­fluen­za sea­son com­ing up,” said Ken Pauli­no, Sanofi’s head of the adult vac­cines busi­ness in the US.

The CDC is rec­om­mend­ing flu vac­ci­na­tions this year for every­one six months and old­er dur­ing Sep­tem­ber and Oc­to­ber, sim­i­lar to its pre­vi­ous guid­ance. How­ev­er, it added a spe­cif­ic rec­om­men­da­tion this year for peo­ple ages 65 and old­er to re­ceive one of the three Flu­zone, Flublok or Flu­ad high­er-dose or ad­ju­vant­ed vac­cines. Sanofi makes both Flu­zone and Flublok.

The “Not To­day, Flu” dig­i­tal cam­paign in­cludes a ded­i­cat­ed web­site with re­sources such as a lo­cal flu vac­cine lo­ca­tor, along with me­dia in­ter­views by Alexan­der and so­cial me­dia posts on Face­book, Twit­ter, In­sta­gram and Tik­Tok with the cam­paign Tik­Tok han­dle@not­to­dayflu.

Span­ish-lan­guage ver­sions of the cam­paign are al­so run­ning along with a bilin­gual me­dia tour and part­ner­ships with Span­ish-speak­ing in­flu­encers to ad­dress “on­go­ing flu dis­par­i­ties in racial and eth­nic mi­nor­i­ty com­mu­ni­ties,” Sanofi said.

Pfiz­er lays off em­ploy­ees at Cal­i­for­nia and Con­necti­cut sites

Pfizer has laid off employees at its La Jolla, CA, and Groton, CT sites, according to multiple LinkedIn posts from former employees.

The Big Pharma confirmed to Endpoints News it has let go of some employees, but a spokesperson declined to specify how many workers were impacted and the exact locations affected. Earlier this month, the drug developer had confirmed to Endpoints it was sharpening its focus and doing away with some early research on areas such as rare disease, oncology and gene therapies.

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Late Fri­day ap­proval; Trio of biotechs wind down; Stem cell pi­o­neer finds new fron­tier; Biotech icon to re­tire; 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.

I hope your weekend is off to a nice start, wherever you are reading this email. As for me, I’m trying to catch the tail of the Lunar New Year festivities.

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Jake Van Naarden, Loxo@Lilly CEO

Lil­ly en­ters ripe BTK field with quick FDA nod in man­tle cell lym­phoma

Eli Lilly has succeeded in its attempt to get the first non-covalent version of Bruton’s tyrosine kinase, or BTK, inhibitors to market, pushing it past rival Merck.

The FDA gave an accelerated nod to Lilly’s daily oral med, to be sold as Jaypirca, for patients with relapsed or refractory mantle cell lymphoma.

The agency’s green light, disclosed by the Indianapolis Big Pharma on Friday afternoon, catapults Lilly into a field dominated by covalent BTK inhibitors, which includes AbbVie and Johnson & Johnson’s Imbruvica, AstraZeneca’s Calquence and BeiGene’s Brukinsa.

Filip Dubovsky, Novavax CMO

No­vavax gets ready to take an­oth­er shot at Covid vac­cine mar­ket with next sea­son plans

While mRNA took center stage at yesterday’s FDA vaccine advisory committee meeting, Novavax announced its plans to deliver an updated protein-based vaccine based on new guidance.

Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) members voted unanimously in favor of “harmonizing” Covid vaccine compositions, meaning all future vaccine recipients would receive a bivalent vaccine, regardless of whether they’ve gotten their primary series.

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CBER Director Peter Marks (Susan Walsh/AP Images)

FDA ad­vi­so­ry com­mit­tee votes unan­i­mous­ly in fa­vor of bi­va­lent Covid shots re­plac­ing pri­ma­ry se­ries

The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) voted unanimously in favor of “harmonizing” Covid vaccine compositions, meaning all current vaccine recipients would receive a bivalent vaccine, regardless of whether they’ve gotten their primary series.

The vote marks an effort to clear up confusion around varying formulations and dosing schedules for current primary series and booster vaccines, as well as “get closer to the strains that are circulating,” according to committee member Paul Offit, professor of pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Healthcare professionals give pharma company engagements middle-of-the-road reviews in a new survey. (Image: Shutterstock)

UCB, No­vo Nordisk, Gilead rank high­est among phar­mas for HCP cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence — sur­vey

When it comes to customer service to healthcare professionals, pharma companies’ overall average rating is, well, average. Its industry customer experience score of 59 is at the lower end of “good” (rated as scores from 51-75) in DT Consulting’s annual assessment out now.

Topping the list of individual pharma companies was UCB with a 66 score on the consultant’s proprietary “Customer Experience Quotient” or CXQ scale. Novo Nordisk and Gilead Sciences followed, tied for second at 65, while Boehringer Ingelheim and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen tied for third with 64. Still, none of the top scores neared “excellent” territory of 76 or higher.

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Rodney Rietze, iVexSol CEO

Bris­tol My­ers, Charles Riv­er join Se­ries A fund­ing for iVex­Sol

Massachusetts-based iVexSol has secured funding to the tune of $23.8 million in its latest Series A round. The new investors include Bristol Myers Squibb, manufacturer Charles River Laboratories and Asahi Kasei Medical.

iVexSol is a manufacturer of lentiviral vectors (LVV), used in making gene therapies, and this latest round of fundraising brings its total Series A total over $39 million, which will be used to recruit more employees and bolster its technology.

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John Rim, Samsung Biologics CEO (Samsung/PR Newswire)

Sam­sung Bi­o­log­ics spells out ex­pan­sion plans in South Ko­rea and US

The CDMO arm of one of South Korea’s largest conglomerates has posted its year-end results and plans for 2023, which include new construction.

Samsung Biologics netted north of KRW 3 trillion ($2.4 billion) in 2022 revenue and an operating profit of KRW 983.6 billion ($799 million), which the company touted on Friday as “record-high earnings.” The revenue boost was 55% compared to 2021.

No­var­tis' ap­proved sick­le cell dis­ease drug fails to beat place­bo in PhI­II

Novartis’ sickle cell drug, approved in 2019 and branded as Adakveo, has failed an ongoing Phase III, according to preliminary results.

The Swiss pharma giant unveiled early data from the ongoing STAND Phase III study on Friday, saying that crizanlizumab showed no statistically significant difference between the drug at two different dose levels compared to placebo in annualized rates of vaso-occlusive crises that lead to a healthcare visit over the first year since being randomized into the trial.