No­vo Nordisk work­ers in Ko­rea protest af­ter break­down in salary and perks ne­go­ti­a­tions — re­port

While in­fla­tion is up glob­al­ly, a few phar­mas have been get­ting hit by union com­plaints over pay rais­es that are be­low in­fla­tion rates. Now an­oth­er Big Phar­ma is fac­ing a po­ten­tial strike.

As first re­port­ed by Ko­rea Bio­med­ical Re­view, 100 union­ized No­vo Nordisk Ko­rea work­ers gath­ered in front of the com­pa­ny’s head­quar­ters in Seoul ear­li­er Thurs­day to protest a failed end to wage ne­go­ti­a­tions and cuts to some em­ploy­ee in­cen­tives. The union has a to­tal of 118 No­vo Nordisk em­ploy­ees.

The union had been pick­et­ing since June 14. Ac­cord­ing to union of­fi­cials, No­vo Nordisk Ko­rea man­age­ment changed its sales rep­re­sen­ta­tives’ in­cen­tive sys­tem and re­fused to re­im­burse fu­el costs for man­agers. The union work­ers al­so filed a com­plaint with Ko­rea’s la­bor and em­ploy­ment min­istry re­gard­ing those changes.

It all start­ed, ac­cord­ing to union leader Huh Nam-jin, last year af­ter man­age­ment and the union agreed to an av­er­age wage in­crease of 4.5%. How­ev­er, not cit­ing a spe­cif­ic time­line, “the man­age­ment re­cent­ly changed its pro­pos­al and pro­posed a 1.5 per­cent in­crease in­stead,” Huh said. The union leader added in Ko­rea Bio­med­ical Re­view’s re­port­ing:

The Na­tion­al La­bor Re­la­tions Com­mis­sion (NL­RC) pro­posed a 2.5 per­cent in­crease as a me­di­a­tion plan, but we can­not ac­cept it be­cause the union had set the wage in­crease rate every year un­til now.

“The union wants its mem­bers to feel they are re­ceiv­ing fair wages and work­ing in a de­mo­c­ra­t­ic, fair, and mu­tu­al­ly re­spect­ful or­ga­ni­za­tion­al,” Huh said.

Al­though not doc­u­ment­ed, Ko­rea Bio­med­ical Re­view added that ac­cord­ing to Huh, the union de­cid­ed on the min­i­mum wage in­crease rate every year, and the man­age­ment ac­knowl­edged it.

No­vo Nordisk did not im­me­di­ate­ly re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment from End­points News.

Sanofi has al­so had is­sues in Ko­rea af­ter union lead­ers threat­ened a strike ear­ly last month over sim­i­lar cir­cum­stances. The union, al­so ac­cord­ing to Ko­rea Bio­med­ical Re­view, was of­fered a 1.5% raise from Sanofi in keep­ing with in­fla­tion. Union lead­ers cit­ed their own in­fla­tion num­bers as well as in­creas­es in Ko­re­an sales dur­ing the pan­dem­ic, orig­i­nal­ly seek­ing a 7% pay hike and then low­er­ing the de­mand to 4%.

How­ev­er, ac­cord­ing to that union, Sanofi flat­ly re­fused.

Phar­ma op­er­a­tions in Ko­rea are not alone in deal­ing with union ne­go­ti­a­tions and strike threats. GSK was fac­ing a strike not even three months ago, as more than 1,000 of GSK’s en­gi­neers, tech­ni­cians, lab­o­ra­to­ry an­a­lysts, ware­house em­ploy­ees and oth­er work­ers in the UK vot­ed 86% in fa­vor to go on strike af­ter what they called “a de­riso­ry” pay in­crease of 2.75% was of­fered.

Just over a month lat­er, GSK in­creased their pay of­fer to 10.5%, which work­ers ac­cept­ed and ef­fec­tive­ly end­ed the strike.

The Fac­tors Dri­ving a Rapid Evo­lu­tion of Gene & Cell Ther­a­py and CAR-T Clin­i­cal Re­search in APAC

APAC is the fastest growing region globally for cell & gene therapy trials representing more than a third of all cell & gene studies globally, with China leading in the region. 

APAC is the leading location globally for CAR-T trials with China attracting ~60% of all CAR-T trials globally between 2015-2022. The number of CAR-T trials initiated by Western companies has rapidly increased in recent years (current CAGR of about 60%), with multiple targets being explored including CD19, CD20, CD22, BCMA, CD30, CD123, CD33, CD38, and CD138.

The End­points 11; blue­bird's $3M gene ther­a­py; Bio­gen tout new neu­ro da­ta; Harsh re­views for can­cer drugs; 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.

Reading about John Carroll’s pick of biotech’s most promising startups has become a treasured tradition. If you ever get curious about previous classes of the Endpoints 11, you can find all of them (plus a number of our other regular specials) here.

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EMA warns of short­ages of two Boehringer heart drugs due to a spike in de­mand

The EMA is putting EU member states on alert over the shortage of two drugs that counter heart attacks due to an uptick in demand.

On Friday, the EMA sent out a warning that two Boehringer Ingelheim drugs are experiencing a shortage: Actilyse and Metalyse. The drugs are used as emergency treatments for adults experiencing acute myocardial infarction, or a heart attack, by dissolving blood clots that have formed in the blood vessels.

The End­points 11: The top pri­vate biotechs in pur­suit of new drugs. Push­ing the en­ve­lope with pow­er­ful new tech­nolo­gies

Right around the beginning of the year, we got a close-up look at what happens after a boom ripples through biotech. The crash of life sciences stocks in Q1 was heard around the world.

In the months since, we’ve seen the natural Darwinian down cycle take effect. Reverse mergers made a comeback, with more burned out shells to go public at a time IPOs and road shows are out of favor. And no doubt some of the more recent arrivals on the investing side of the business are finding greener pastures.

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Wendy Lund, WPP chief client officer for health and wellness

WPP taps Organon chief com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fi­cer Wendy Lund for new health and well­ness client role

Wendy Lund is going home – to WPP, that is. Lund is leaving the Merck women’s health spinoff Organon where she is chief communications officer for a newly created role as WPP chief client officer for health and wellness. Before Organon, Lund led GCI Group, a WPP healthcare communications agency, as CEO for 11 years.

Lund joins WPP’s group of global client leaders who act as a single point of contact or entry for clients with WPP brands and businesses inside the holding company. and in this case, for the WPP health and wellness business.

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Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar

Should SCO­TUS hear Am­gen's Repatha case? So­lic­i­tor gen­er­al says no

Back in April, Amgen said it was encouraged by the solicitor general’s anticipated review of its Supreme Court petition to rehear a Repatha patent case. They’re likely much less optimistic about the outcome now.

Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar wrote in a recent 27-page brief that Amgen’s arguments “lack merit and further review is not warranted.”

The case traces back to a suit filed in 2014 against Sanofi and Regeneron’s Praluent, which ended up beating Amgen’s PCSK9 blockbuster Repatha to market by a month just a year later.

Klick Health gath­ers biotech and phar­ma lu­mi­nar­ies to dis­cuss in­dus­try in­no­va­tions, in­vest­ments and fu­ture

At Klick Health’s first Ideas Exchange conference with biotech and pharma industry insiders since before the pandemic began, it was no surprise many conversations included Covid topics. Yet while vaccines and treatments were discussed, so too were the effects on drug development, federal responses, health inequities — and what to do now and next.

George Yancopoulos, chief scientist and cofounder of Regeneron, opened the conference responding to a question from Acorda CEO Ron Cohen about the spotlight on the industry during Covid and some of the “flak” biopharma has taken in the past.

FDA's out­side ex­perts vote in fa­vor of Fer­ring's fe­cal trans­plant for C. dif­fi­cile, set­ting the stage for Seres

FDA’s outside advisors voted in favor of Ferring Pharmaceuticals’ RBX2660, an experimental poop-based drug implant that the company says would be the first microbiota-based live biotherapeutic to receive an FDA green light.

That was a point repeatedly discussed during the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, or VRBPAC, meeting Thursday when evaluating Ferring’s fecal microbiota transplant, or FMT, for reducing the recurrence of Clostridioides difficile infection in adults who have received antibiotics. Multiple members brought up the need for a regulated product amid a landscape of unregulated FMTs already happening in clinical care.

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Vas Narasimhan, Novartis CEO (Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

No­var­tis un­veils 'US-first' strat­e­gy ahead of San­doz spin­off

Weeks after announcing the spinoff of generics arm Sandoz, Vas Narasimhan paints a picture of the new, slimmer Novartis — with a “US-first mindset,” he said at an investor event on Thursday.

The CEO unveiled ambitious plans to become a top-five player in the US by 2027 at Novartis’ “Meet the Management” event in Basel, Switzerland, which means ramping up clinical trials in the states and “building capability and talent, among other things.” The company’s also shooting for a top-three ranking in China.

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