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.

Biotech in­vestors and CEOs see two paths to growth, but are they equal­ly vi­able?

The dynamic in the biotech market has been highly volatile in the last few years, from the high peaks immediately after the COVID vaccine in 2021, to the lowest downturns of the last 20 years in 2022. This uncertainty makes calling the exact timing of the market’s turn something of a fool’s errand, according to Dr. Chen Yu, Founder and Managing Partner of TCG Crossover (TCG X). He speaks with RBC’s Noël Brown, Head of US Biotechnology Investment Banking, about the market’s road ahead and two possible paths for growth.

Benjamine Liu, TrialSpark CEO

Paul Hud­son and Tri­alSpark's mu­tu­al de­sire to speed up de­vel­op­ment con­verges in three-year, six-drug goal

A unicorn startup that originally set out to hasten clinical studies for biopharma partners dug further into its revised path of internal drug development by linking arms with Sanofi in a pact that the biotech’s CEO said originated from the top.

TrialSpark and the Big Pharma on Tuesday committed to in-licensing and/or acquiring six Phase II/Phase III drugs within the next three years.

“I’ve known Paul Hudson for a while and we were discussing the opportunity to really re-imagine a lot of different parts of pharma,” TrialSpark CEO Benjamine Liu told Endpoints News, “and one of the things that we discussed was this opportunity to accelerate the development of new medicines in mutual areas of interest.”

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Casey McPherson shows his daughters Rose (left) and Weston around Everlum Bio, a lab that he co-founded to spark a treatment for Rose and others with ultra-rare conditions. (Ilana Panich-Linsman)

Fa­ther starts lab af­ter in­tel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty is­sues stymie rare dis­ease drug de­vel­op­ment

Under bright lab lights, Casey McPherson holds his 6-year-old daughter, Rose. His free hand directs Rose’s gaze toward a computer screen with potential clues in treating her one-of-a kind genetic condition.

Gray specks on the screen show her cells that scientists reprogrammed with the goal of zeroing in on a custom medicine. McPherson co-founded the lab, Everlum Bio, to spark a treatment for Rose — and others like her. A regarded singer-songwriter, McPherson never imagined going into drug development.

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Astel­las, Pan­th­er­na add or­gan to mR­NA tie-up; Rock­et launch­es sale of six fig­ures worth of stock

Astellas and Pantherna have expanded their November 2021 pact surrounding the latter’s mRNA platform to include a new target organ, the duo announced Tuesday morning, though they did not specify what that target is.

German biotech Pantherna is home to two platform technologies — one that designs mRNAs for non-vaccine therapies and another that designs LNPs. Astellas and Pantherna’s deal appears to mainly revolve around the first platform, which Astellas said it is using to research direct reprogramming, or turning cells from one kind into another without an intermediate stem cell phase.

Take­da to pull key hy­poparathy­roidism drug from the mar­ket en­tire­ly by end of 2024 af­ter years of man­u­fac­tur­ing woes

Takeda on Tuesday morning made an announcement that almost 3,000 people with the rare disease known as hypoparathyroidism were fearing.

Due to unresolved supply issues and manufacturing woes, Takeda said it will cut its losses and discontinue its hypoparathyroidism drug, known as Natpara (parathyroid hormone), halting all manufacturing of the drug by the end of 2024.

The decision to not re-commercialize Natpara will be a blow to not only the 2,400 people who were awaiting supplies of their reliable injection since 2019, but also the additional nearly 400 people who were accessing the drugs via the company’s Special Use Program as Takeda sought to resolve these manufacturing issues over the past five years.

Marc Dunoyer, Alexion CEO (AstraZeneca via YouTube)

Up­dat­ed: As­traZeneca nabs a small rare dis­ease gene ther­a­py play­er for 667% pre­mi­um

AstraZeneca is kicking off the fourth quarter with a little M&A Monday for a gene editing player recently overcoming a second clinical hold to its only program in human studies.

The Big Pharma and its subsidiary Alexion are buying out little LogicBio for $2.07 per share. That’s good for a massive 667% premium over its Friday closing price, when it headed into the weekend at 27 cents and just weeks after Nasdaq said LogicBio would have to delist, which has been put on hold as the biotech requests a hearing. It’s one of two biotech deals to commence October, alongside the news of Incyte buying a vitiligo-focused biotech.

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Dave Marek, Myovant CEO

My­ovant board balks as ma­jor­i­ty own­er Sum­it­o­mo swoops in with a $2.5B deal to buy them out

Three years after Sumitomo scooped up Roivant’s 46% stake in the publicly traded Myovant $MYOV as part of a 5-company, $3 billion deal, they’re coming back for the whole thing.

But these other investors at Myovant want more than what the Japanese pharma company is currently offering to pay at this stage.

Sumitomo is bidding $22.75 a share for the outstanding stock, which now represents 48% of the company after Sumitomo bumped its ownership since the original deal with Roivant. Myovant, however, created a special committee on the board, and they’re shaking their heads over the offer.

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Albert Bourla, Pfizer CEO (Gian Ehrenzeller/Keystone via AP)

Can a smart­phone app de­tect Covid? Pfiz­er throws down $116M to find out

What can a cough say about a patient’s illness? Quite a bit, according to ResApp Health — and Pfizer’s listening.

The pharma giant is shelling out about $116 million ($179 million AUD) to scoop up the University of Queensland spinout and its smartphone technology that promises to diagnose Covid and other respiratory illnesses based on cough and breathing sounds, the university announced last week.

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Big Phar­ma heavy­weights seek tweaks to FDA's clin­i­cal out­come as­sess­ment guid­ance

Pfizer, GSK, Janssen, Regeneron, Boehringer Ingelheim and at least a half dozen other companies are calling on the FDA to provide significantly more clarity in its draft guidance from this summer on clinical outcome assessments, which are a type of patient experience.

The draft is the third in a series of four patient-focused drug development guidance documents that the FDA had to create as part of the 21st Century Cures Act, and they describe how stakeholders (patients, caregivers, researchers, medical product developers and others) can collect and submit patient experience data and other relevant information for medical product development and regulatory decision-making.

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