Sanofi, Mod­er­na beef up the case for giv­ing flu, Covid-19 vac­cines to el­der­ly in the same vis­it

Giv­ing Sanofi’s flu vac­cine to­geth­er with a boost­er shot of Mod­er­na’s Covid-19 vac­cine to the el­der­ly ap­pears to be just as safe as ad­min­is­ter­ing the two apart, the two com­pa­nies re­port­ed, join­ing a small cho­rus of drug­mak­ers bring­ing good news about co-ad­min­is­tra­tion of sea­son­al shots.

The study en­rolled around 300 adults who were 65 or old­er.

All of the par­tic­i­pants had re­ceived two dos­es of the Mod­er­na mR­NA vac­cine at least five months pri­or. Then in one vis­it, they were giv­en Flu­zone, Sanofi’s high-dose quadri­va­lent flu vac­cine, and Mod­er­na’s mR­NA-1273, in­tend­ed as a boost­er. The high-dose for­mu­la­tion was specif­i­cal­ly de­vel­oped to of­fer high­er pro­tec­tion to the el­der­ly, who are at high risk for com­pli­ca­tions due to both in­fluen­za and Covid-19.

“This sea­son, more than ever, it is crit­i­cal to help pro­tect the old­er adults, who are at es­pe­cial­ly high risk for both se­vere COVID-19 and com­pli­ca­tions from in­fluen­za, which can in­clude heart at­tacks and strokes,” said Michael Green­berg, North Amer­i­ca med­ical head for vac­cines at Sanofi.

As flu sea­son ap­proach­es, ques­tions have height­ened about whether it’s safe for peo­ple to re­ceive two vac­cines at the same time. Pub­lic health of­fi­cials such as NI­AID chief An­tho­ny Fau­ci have said it’s “per­fect­ly fine” — es­pe­cial­ly if it means one can be vac­ci­nat­ed in an ex­pe­di­tious man­ner.

In a re­cent study, British sci­en­tists led by the Uni­ver­si­ty of Bris­tol looked in­to co-ad­min­is­tra­tion with three flu vac­cines and Covid-19 shots from Pfiz­er/BioN­Tech and As­traZeneca. They con­clud­ed it’s safe to get both si­mul­ta­ne­ous­ly and it doesn’t neg­a­tive­ly af­fect the im­mune re­sponse spurred by ei­ther.

Get­ting more than one vac­cine at once is shap­ing up to be a big pri­or­i­ty for vac­cine mak­ers. Mod­er­na it­self is work­ing on a sin­gle jab that com­bines its Covid-19 boost­er with an ex­per­i­men­tal flu shot; No­vavax has al­so launched stud­ies with its in-house can­di­dates.

It’s not lim­it­ed to Covid-19, ei­ther. Days ago, Pfiz­er tout­ed re­sults from a study look­ing in­to the co-ad­min­is­tra­tion of Pre­vnar 20 (its new­ly ap­proved pneu­mo­coc­cal vac­cine) and a flu jab.

For a look at all End­points News coro­n­avirus sto­ries, check out our spe­cial news chan­nel.

A new era of treat­ment: How bio­mark­ers are chang­ing the way we think about can­cer

AJ Patel was recovering from a complicated brain surgery when his oncologist burst into the hospital room yelling, “I’ve got some really great news for you!”

For two years, Patel had been going from doctor to doctor trying to diagnose his wheezing, only to be dealt the devastating news that he had stage IV lung cancer and only six months to live. And then they found the brain tumors.

“What are you talking about?” Patel asked. He had never seen an oncologist so happy.

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Mod­er­na seeks to dis­miss Al­ny­lam suit over Covid-19 vac­cine com­po­nent, claim­ing wrong venue

RNAi therapeutics juggernaut Alnylam Pharmaceuticals made a splash in March when it sued and sought money from both Pfizer and Moderna regarding their use of Alnylam’s biodegradable lipids, which Alnylam claims have been integral to the way both companies’ mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccines work.

But now, Moderna lawyers are firing back, telling the same Delaware district court that Alnylam’s claims can only proceed against the US government in the Court of Federal Claims because of the way the company’s contract is set up with the US government. The US has spent almost $10 billion on Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine so far.

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Michael Corbo, Pfizer CDO of inflammation & immunology

UP­DAT­ED: Plan­ning ahead for crowd­ed ul­cer­a­tive col­i­tis mar­ket, Pfiz­er spells out PhI­II da­ta on $6.7B Are­na drug

Pfizer has laid out the detailed results behind its boast that etrasimod — the S1P receptor modulator at the center of its $6.7 billion buyout of Arena Pharma — is the winner of the class, potentially leapfrogging an earlier entrant from Bristol Myers Squibb.

Pivotal data from the ELEVATE program in ulcerative colitis — which consists of two Phase III trials, one lasting 52 weeks and the other just 12 weeks — illustrate an “encouraging balance of efficacy and safety,” according to Michael Corbo, chief development officer of inflammation & immunology at Pfizer. The company is presenting the results as a late breaker at Digestive Disease Week.

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Mihael Polymeropoulos, Vanda Pharmaceuticals CEO

Phar­ma com­pa­ny con­tin­ues its FDA law­suit spree, this time af­ter agency de­nies fast-track des­ig­na­tion

Vanda Pharmaceuticals is making a name for itself, at least in terms of suing the FDA.

The DC-headquartered firm on Monday filed its latest suit against the agency, with the company raising concerns over the FDA’s failure to grant a fast track designation for Vanda’s potential chronic digestive disorder drug tradipitant, which is a neurokinin 1 receptor antagonist.

Specifically, Vanda said FDA’s “essential point” in its one-page denial letter on the designation pointed to “the lack of necessary safety data,” which was “inconsistent with the criteria for … Fast Track designation.”

An NYU surgeon transplants an engineered pig kidney into the outside of a brain-dead patient (Joe Carrotta/NYU Langone Health)

'Xeno­trans­plan­ta­tion is com­ing': New NE­JM pa­per gives de­tailed look in­to 2 pig-to-hu­man kid­ney trans­plant cas­es

The thymokidney is a curious organ, if you could call it that. It’s a sort of Frankensteinian creation — a system of pig thymus embedded underneath the outer layer of a pig’s kidney, made for human transplantation.

In the first case of pig-to-human xenotransplantation of a kidney into a brain-dead patient, the thymokidney quietly featured front and center.

In that experiment, which took place in September of last year, NYU researchers led by Robert Montgomery sutured a pig thymokidney onto the leg of a brain-dead 66-year-old woman. That case was widely reported on by a horde of major media outlets, including the New York Times, the BBC, and an in-depth feature by USA Today.

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Vlad Coric, Biohaven CEO

UP­DAT­ED: Fresh off $11.6B sale to Pfiz­er, New Bio­haven hits Phase III set­back just weeks af­ter Vlad Coric chalked up promise

When Pfizer bought up Biohaven’s migraine portfolio in the largest M&A deal of the year earlier this month, Biohaven CEO Vlad Coric promised the rest of the pipeline, which will live on under the umbrella of New Biohaven, still has a lot to offer. But that vision took a dent Monday as the drugmaker revealed it’s once again flopped on troriluzole.

The glutamate regulator failed to meet the primary endpoint on a Phase III study in patients with spinocerebellar ataxia, an inherited disorder that impairs a person’s ability to walk, speak and swallow. SCA can also lead to premature death.

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Özlem Türeci, BioNTech co-founder and Uğur Şahin, BioNTech CEO

Third dose bumps up ef­fi­ca­cy of Pfiz­er-BioN­Tech's Covid-19 vac­cine in youngest group of chil­dren to 80%

Pfizer and BioNTech said Monday that they’re ready to approach the FDA this week with early data for their booster shot for Covid-19 vaccine in the youngest age group (6 months to under 5 years), which showed 80.3% efficacy based on 10 symptomatic Covid cases identified beginning seven days after the third dose.

“The study suggests that a low 3-ug dose of our vaccine, carefully selected based on tolerability data, provides young children with a high level of protection against the recent COVID-19 strains,” Uğur Şahin, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech said in a statement. “We are preparing the relevant documents and expect completing the submission process to the FDA this week, with submissions to EMA and other regulatory agencies to follow within the coming weeks.”

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Cracks in the fa­cade: Is phar­ma's pan­dem­ic ‘feel good fac­tor’ wan­ing?

The discordant effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on pharma reputation continues. While the overall industry still retains a respectable halo from its Covid-19 quick response and leadership, a new patient group study reveals a different story emerging in the details.

On one hand, US patient advocacy groups rated the industry higher-than-ever overall. More than two-thirds (67%) of groups gave the industry a thumbs up for 2021, a whopping 10 percentage point increase over the year before, according to the PatientView annual study, now in its 9th year.

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Adar Poonawalla, Serum Institute of India CEO (Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Covid-19 roundup: Serum In­sti­tute eyes Africa for glob­al ex­pan­sion — re­port; Jun­shi an­tivi­ral hits pri­ma­ry end­point in late-stage tri­al

After Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla announced last month that the world’s largest vaccine maker stopped producing doses of Covid-19 vaccines back in December, the institute is looking to expand.

The CEO told Reuters Monday that the company is considering establishing its first manufacturing plant in Africa in its next step toward global expansion after successfully mass producing and selling hundreds of millions of Covid-19 vaccine doses out of its India-based facilities.