Distribution of Moderna's Covid-19 Vaccine (Photo by Paul Sancya - Pool/Getty Images)

Opin­ion: Ado­les­cents can wait. The US needs to start do­nat­ing Covid-19 vac­cines to needy coun­tries now.

Now that the US is swim­ming in Covid-19 vac­cines and the sup­ply has of­fi­cial­ly eclipsed the de­mand, it’s time for Amer­i­ca to lead the world and start ship­ping these ex­cess dos­es to coun­tries that des­per­ate­ly need them.

Un­like the IP waiv­er at the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion, which Biden now sup­ports and will like­ly take years to trans­late in­to ac­tu­al shots in arms, the US could eas­i­ly do­nate just a tiny frac­tion of the more than 60 mil­lion dos­es of Pfiz­er, Mod­er­na and J&J vac­cines sit­ting on Amer­i­can shelves right now.

Low-in­come coun­tries have re­ceived just 0.3% of all vac­cine dos­es in the world.

The sit­u­a­tion has be­come so dire in Bo­livia that its gov­ern­ment is turn­ing to a Cana­di­an com­pa­ny that doesn’t even make vac­cines, and Bo­livia will on­ly be able to ob­tain those if the com­pa­ny can ac­quire a com­pul­so­ry li­cense from the Cana­di­an gov­ern­ment.

Mean­while, the US on Thurs­day will like­ly be­gin vac­ci­nat­ing mil­lions of ado­les­cents, many of whom aren’t like­ly to get se­vere cas­es of Covid-19, or who live in ar­eas where Covid-19 in­fec­tions are wan­ing.

Texas has even gone so far as to say it will no longer track if it’s wast­ing vac­cine dos­es. The state ba­si­cal­ly ad­vised providers to waste dos­es, telling them to “vac­ci­nate any­one who wants to be vac­ci­nat­ed, even if that means open­ing a new vial for that per­son with­out know­ing whether all dos­es will be used.”

More than 150 mil­lion Amer­i­cans (or 58% of adults) have now re­ceived at least one dose of vac­cine. Dozens of neigh­bor­ing coun­tries in Cen­tral and South Amer­i­ca haven’t even ad­min­is­tered 1 mil­lion dos­es.

CO­V­AX, a world­wide ini­tia­tive fo­cused on eq­ui­table ac­cess to Covid-19 vac­cines, is do­ing its best to help, ship­ping over 58 mil­lion vac­cine dos­es to 122 par­tic­i­pants. In March, the ini­tia­tive an­nounced the de­liv­ery of 2.3 mil­lion vac­cine dos­es to Bo­livia, El Sal­vador, Guatemala, Hon­duras, Ja­maica, Nicaragua and Pe­ru.

But the US could dou­ble that fig­ure with a ship­ment to­mor­row, and nev­er even blink at the loss of 5 mil­lion vac­cine dos­es.

Biden made beat­ing the coro­n­avirus his top pri­or­i­ty, but that win won’t of­fi­cial­ly oc­cur un­til the rest of the world can con­tain their own out­breaks.

David Kessler

So far, the US has shipped just 4 mil­lion As­traZeneca Covid-19 vac­cine dos­es, in­clud­ing 2.5 mil­lion to Mex­i­co and 1.5 mil­lion to Cana­da, ac­cord­ing to tes­ti­mo­ny Tues­day from David Kessler, Biden’s Covid-19 CSO. Those dos­es aren’t au­tho­rized for use in the US, and like­ly nev­er would’ve been used in the US any­ways.

Kessler said he’s been on the phone with As­traZeneca reg­u­lar­ly over the last sev­er­al weeks to dis­cuss ship­ping about 60 mil­lion more of its dos­es out­side the US. The on­ly prob­lem — the dos­es were made at the trou­bled Emer­gent BioSo­lu­tions plant in Bal­ti­more and the FDA is still work­ing to see if they’re sal­vage­able, he said.

While the FDA con­tin­ues to re­view those dos­es, the US needs to start ship­ping our Pfiz­er, Mod­er­na and J&J dos­es to our neigh­bors.

Illustration: Assistant Editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News

How Pur­due's $272M ad­dic­tion pay­out fund­ed a new home for its dis­card­ed non-opi­oid re­search

Don Kyle spent more than 20 years working for Purdue Pharma, right through the US opioid epidemic that led to the company’s rise and eventual infamy. But contrary to Purdue’s focus on OxyContin, Kyle was researching non-opioid painkillers — that is, until the company shelved his research.

As the company’s legal troubles mounted, Kyle found an unlikely way to reboot the project. In 2019, he took his work to an Oklahoma State University center that’s slated to receive more than two-thirds of the state’s $272 million settlement with Purdue over claims that the drugmaker’s behavior ignited the epidemic of opioid use and abuse.

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President Joe Biden at the State of the Union address with Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (Patrick Semansky/AP Images)

The drug pric­ing pres­i­dent: Biden warns of ve­to for any IRA re­peal at­tempts

President Joe Biden made clear in his “finish the job” State of the Union address last night that one of those jobs to be finished is insulin prices.

Biden’s push again to tackle insulin prices, after Republicans rebuffed the idea last summer and just after Biden won Medicare drug price negotiations/caps via the Inflation Reduction Act, shows how heavily he’s leaning into this work.

Rupert Vessey, Bristol Myers Squibb head of research and early development

Up­dat­ed: R&D tur­bu­lence at Bris­tol My­ers now in­cludes the end of a $650M al­liance and the de­par­ture of a top re­search cham­pi­on

This morning biotech Dragonfly put out word that Bristol Myers Squibb has handed back all rights to its IL-12 clinical-stage drug after spending $650 million to advance it into the clinic.

The news arrives amid a turbulent R&D stage for the pharma giant, which late last week highlighted Rupert Vessey’s decision to depart this summer as head of early-stage R&D following a crucial three-year stretch after he jumped to Bristol Myers in the big Celgene buyout. During that time he struck a series of deals for Bristol Myers, and also shepherded a number of Celgene programs down the pipeline, playing a major role for a lineup of biotechs which depended on him to champion their drugs.

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FDA Commissioner Robert Califf on Capitol Hill, Feb. 8, 2023 (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

FDA com­mis­sion­er floats ideas on how to bet­ter han­dle the pan­dem­ic

FDA Commissioner Rob Califf joined the heads of the CDC and NIH in the hot seat today before a key House subcommittee, explaining that there needs to be a much faster, more coordinated way to oversee vaccine safety, and that foreign biopharma inspections, halted for years due to the pandemic, are slowly ramping up again.

Califf, who stressed to the House Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Health that the CDC also needs better data, made clear that the FDA’s ability to monitor the safety of vaccines “would also benefit greatly by a coordinated federal public health data reporting authority.”

Bill Haney, Dragonfly CEO (Dave Pedley/Getty Images for SXSW)

Drag­on­fly chief: Bris­tol My­ers shouldn’t blame IL-12’s clin­i­cal per­for­mance for de­ci­sion to scrap the deal — eco­nom­ics played a key role

Bristol Myers Squibb says the IL-12 drug they were developing out of Dragonfly Therapeutics was scrubbed from the pipeline for a simple reason: It didn’t measure up on clinical performance.

But Bill Haney, the CEO of Dragonfly, is taking issue with that.

The early-stage drug, still in Phase I development, has passed muster with Bristol Myers’ general clinical expectations, advancing successfully while still in Phase I, he says.

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Utpal Koppikar, new Verily CFO

Ex­clu­sive: Ver­i­ly wel­comes Atara Bio­ther­a­peu­tics vet­er­an as new CFO

Verily, Alphabet’s life sciences outfit, has plucked a new CFO from the ranks of Atara Biotherapeutics, the company announced on Wednesday.

Utpal Koppikar joins Verily after a nearly five-year stint as CFO and senior VP at Atara, though his résumé also boasts roles at Gilead and Amgen.

The news follows a major reshuffling at Verily, including several senior departures earlier this year and a round of layoffs.

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Singer Nick Jonas is back at work for Dexcom, this time for its new G7 glucose monitor.

Dex­com's spokescelebri­ty Nick Jonas re­turns to Su­per Bowl in new glu­cose mon­i­tor com­mer­cial

Dexcom is going back to the Super Bowl with its pop singer and patient spokesperson Nick Jonas. Jonas takes center stage as the lone figure in the 30-second commercial showcasing Dexcom’s next-generation G7 continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) device.

Jonas’ sleight-of-hand tricks populate the commercial — he pinches his empty fingers together and pops them open to reveal the small CGM — even as he ends the ad, saying, “It’s not magic. It just feels that way.” Jonas then disappears in a puff of smoke.

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Richard Francis, newly-appointed Teva CEO (Novartis via Facebook)

New Te­va CEO Richard Fran­cis repri­or­i­tizes to 'get back to growth'

Six weeks into his new role at the helm of Teva Pharmaceutical, Richard Francis said it’s time to “get back to growth,” starting with a good look at the company’s priorities.

The chief executive has kicked off a strategic review, he announced during Teva’s quarterly call, which will continue over the next several months and produce results sometime in the middle of 2023. That means some pipeline cuts may be in store, he told Endpoints News, while declining to offer much more detail.

Sanofi is renewing its #VaccinesForDreams campaign with more stories, such as Juan's in Argentina (Sanofi)

Sanofi re­news so­cial cam­paign to re­mind that vac­cines let peo­ple ‘Dream Big’

Sanofi is highlighting people’s dreams — both big and small — to make the point that vaccines make them possible.

The renewed “Dream Big” global social media campaign’s newest dreamer is Juan, a teacher in the Misiones rainforest in Argentina whose story is told through videos on Instagram and Sanofi’s website with the hashtag #VaccinesForDreams.

The campaign ties to Sanofi’s broader umbrella initiative “Vaccine Stories” to promote the value of vaccines and drive awareness of the need for improved vaccination coverage.

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