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

Serum In­sti­tute CEO, head of world's biggest vac­cine mak­er, says Covid shot pro­duc­tion was halt­ed in De­cem­ber

Tons of mon­ey, re­sources and con­struc­tion projects have been dumped in­to the pro­duc­tion of Covid-19 vac­cines, and when the Serum In­sti­tute of In­dia stepped up and pledged to pro­vide dos­es to low- and mid­dle-in­come coun­tries, it re­ceived praise from around the world.

But now, the CEO of the world’s largest vac­cine man­u­fac­tur­er said Fri­day that pro­duc­tion of the vac­cine has been halt­ed since De­cem­ber, when the com­pa­ny’s stock­pile hit the 200 mil­lion mark.

“I have even of­fered to give free do­na­tions to who­ev­er want­ed to take it,” Adar Poon­awal­la said at the In­dia Eco­nom­ic Con­clave Fri­day, Bloomberg re­port­ed.

Poon­awal­la al­so blamed the In­di­an gov­ern­ment for the de­lay in the avail­abil­i­ty of Cov­o­vax, the Serum Covid-19 vac­cine, in its home coun­try. The vac­cine has been sold in Eu­rope and Aus­tralia, but said that the gov­ern­ment is tak­ing its time on how to im­ple­ment the vac­cine in­to its pro­gram.

When the num­ber of pos­i­tive Covid-19 cas­es sky­rock­et­ed in In­dia, the gov­ern­ment put a hold on ex­ports of vac­cines. That start­ed with the As­traZeneca jab, which Serum col­lab­o­rat­ed on. Though the ban has been lift­ed, the coun­try has been stuck with a stock­pile. CO­V­AX, the vac­cine shar­ing pro­gram, has an op­tion to buy 550 mil­lion dos­es of the shot, but is no longer re­liant on Serum as it has looked else­where amidst the ban.

In­dia now al­lows for all those above the age of 18 to get a boost­er, though Poon­awal­la called for more ex­pan­sion.

The past month has seen Serum make moves look­ing past the pan­dem­ic, as it signed a deal with UK-based biotech Wock­hardt to cre­ate a glob­al vac­cine pro­gram and build a new fa­cil­i­ty in North Wales to help build up long-term ca­pac­i­ty. It en­tered a li­cens­ing deal with Green­Light Bio­sciences, a Mass­a­chu­setts biotech, for three vac­cines, in­clud­ing one for shin­gles. On top of that, Serum’s new drug dis­cov­ery pro­gram has fo­cused on the un­met need for an­tibac­te­r­i­al drugs that can bat­tle “un­treat­able su­per­bugs.”

British Prime Min­is­ter Boris John­son was in Del­hi Fri­day, talk­ing about the ex­pan­sion of col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the two coun­tries. He high­light­ed the work that As­traZeneca and the Serum In­sti­tute have done to­geth­er on the vac­cine, and even men­tioned that he had the col­lab­o­ra­tive jab in his own arm right now.

“Which vac­ci­nat­ed more than a bil­lion peo­ple against Covid, in­clud­ing, I’m proud to say, me. I have the In­di­an jab in my arm, and a pow­er of good it did me,” John­son said. “That has helped In­dia be­come … the phar­ma­cy of the world.”

Mean­while, Reuters re­port­ed that low-in­come coun­tries de­clined 35 mil­lion of the As­traZeneca/Serum In­sti­tute jabs, in fa­vor of jabs made by J&J, Mod­er­na and Pfiz­er/BioN­Tech, cit­ing a longer shelf life as the rea­son be­hind the pref­er­ence.

Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Cyril Marcilhacy/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

FDA side­lines Paul Hud­son's $3.7B MS drug af­ter es­tab­lish­ing link to liv­er dam­age

One of Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson’s top picks in the pipeline — picked up in a $3.7 billion buyout 2 years ago — has just been sidelined in the US by a safety issue.

The pharma giant put out word early Thursday that the FDA has put their Phase III studies of tolebrutinib in multiple sclerosis and myasthenia gravis on partial clinical hold, halting enrollment and suspending dosing for patients who have been on the drug for less than 60 days. Patients who have completed at least 60 days of treatment can continue therapy as researchers explore a “limited” — but unspecified in Sanofi’s statement — number of cases of liver injury.

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Phar­ma re­acts to post-Roe; Drug­mak­ers beef up cy­ber de­fense; Boehringer, Roche qui­et­ly axe 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.

As a reminder, we are off on Monday for the Fourth of July. I hope this recap will kick off your (long) weekend well and that the rest of it will be just what you need. See you next week for a shortened edition!

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Eric Hughes, incoming Teva EVP of global R&D and CMO

Te­va chief raids Ver­tex for his new glob­al head of re­search and de­vel­op­ment

Teva CEO Kåre Schultz has found his new R&D chief and CMO in Vertex’s ranks.

The global generics giant, which has some 3,500 staffers in the R&D group, has named Eric Hughes to the top research spot in the company. He’ll be replacing Hafrun Fridriksdottir, who held the role for close to five years, on Aug. 1.

Hughes hasn’t been at Vertex for long, though. He jumped from Novartis less than a year ago, after heading the immunology, hepatology & dermatology global development unit. Before that, he completed a five-year stint as head of early clinical research for the specialty discovery medicine department in the exploratory clinical & translational research group at Bristol Myers Squibb, according to his LinkedIn profile.

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#BIO22: Man­ag­ing a biotech in tur­bu­lent times. 'There's a per­fect shit­show out there'

On Tuesday, June 14, Endpoints News EIC John Carroll sat down with a group of biotech execs to discuss the bear market for industry stocks and how they were dealing with it. Here’s the conversation, which has been lightly edited for brevity.

Martin Meeson, sponsor opening:

Thank you, John. Hello everyone. My name’s Martin Meeson, I’m the CEO of Fujifilm Diosynth. For those of you who don’t know Fujifilm Diosynth, we operate in the development of clinical and commercial product scale up, we have facilities in Europe and the US, and around about 4,000 employees. We run on average about 150 programs, so when it comes to managing in turbulent times over the last two years, we’ve had quite a lot of experience of that. Not just keeping the clinical pipelines and the commercial pipelines open, but also our response to the pandemic and the molecules that we’ve had within there. One of the phrases that I coined probably about a year ago when we were talking at JP Morgan, was I talked about managing through turbulent times. Well, it’s become the fact that we are not managing and leading through these times, we are managing in them, which is why that’s really the purpose of and the topic that we’ve got today.

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No­var­tis to re­sume the pro­duc­tion of two ra­di­oli­gand ther­a­pies af­ter re­solv­ing qual­i­ty is­sues

Earlier this year, Novartis touted its radioligand as a major piece to counter competition in the cancer space. However, the physical production of its products has had anything but a smooth ride.

In May, Novartis had to suspend production of Lutathera and Pluvicto, its two primary radiotherapies. According to the company, this was done out of an abundance of caution as a result of potential quality issues identified in its manufacturing. The production suspension impacts the commercial and clinical trial supply of the products.

Amgen's taking social media followers around the globe as it introduces the many different

From Tam­pa to Mu­nich, Am­gen’s ‘Places’ cam­paign in­tro­duces its lo­ca­tions around the world

Amgen is taking social media followers around the world with its latest corporate campaign. Called “Places of Amgen,” the twice monthly posts highlight the biopharma’s different offices and sites – and the people who work there.

Each post runs on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram with details about the work Amgen does in that location, when it was established, comments from people who work there and other interesting facts. The most recent one about Paris, France, for example, notes that Amgen France last year signed a French association charter committed to the inclusion of LBGT+ people in the workplace.

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On Friday, Lonza announced plans to construct a large-scale commercial drug product fill and finish facility in the town of Stein, Switzerland.

Lon­za to in­vest $500M+ on fill-fin­ish fa­cil­i­ty on its home turf

Lonza has been expanding its reach across the globe, bringing sites in China and the US online this year, but now they are looking closer to home for their next major investment.

The Swiss manufacturer on Friday announced plans to construct a large-scale commercial drug fill and finish facility in the town of Stein, Switzerland. The new facility will be delivered through an investment of approximately CHF 500 million, or $519 million, and is expected to be completed in 2026. The facility will also be constructed on the same campus as Lonza’s current clinical drug product facility.

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Bio­haven takes mi­graine cam­paign to pa­tients' Twit­ter feeds, months ahead of Pfiz­er takeover

Two weeks ago, Biohaven hit an all-time high in weekly Nurtec prescriptions. CEO Vlad Coric attributes at least some of that success to a new interactive Twitter campaign that encourages patients to free their feed of potential migraine triggers.

Earlier this month, Biohaven in partnership with Twitter launched the #RelieveYourFeed campaign that allows users to customize their app settings based on their migraine triggers.

Oncologists on Twitter are talking up ASCO studies, health equity and burnout, according to new deep dive research from Harris Poll (via Shutterstock)

What’s been on in­flu­en­tial on­col­o­gist­s' minds? Most­ly AS­CO, but al­so health eq­ui­ty, ac­cord­ing to new Har­ris Poll re­search

Over the past few months, oncologists have been talking a lot about the ASCO conference. Not surprising considering its import and the study data presented, but what may be less expected is the second most talked about topic of health equity.

That’s according to data from The Harris Poll and the new expert network the researcher is building out. While the company has been doing deep data dives into specific health issues or conditions for pharma clients, it’s now monitoring influencer networks of therapy area specialists to find out what experts are really thinking about.