Switzer­land to de­stroy over 600,000 ex­pired dos­es of Mod­er­na Covid vac­cine

As con­cerns re­lat­ed to up­take and dis­tri­b­u­tion con­tin­ue to linger, Switzer­land is among the first coun­tries that plans to de­stroy hun­dreds of thou­sands of ex­pired and un­used Covid-19 vac­cine dos­es.

The Eu­ro­pean coun­try said it plans to de­stroy more than 600,000 dos­es of Mod­er­na’s Spike­vax Covid-19 vac­cine as the dos­es have reached their ex­pi­ra­tion date.

How­ev­er, Mod­er­na CEO Stéphane Ban­cel told the World Eco­nom­ic Fo­rum in Davos, Switzer­land that he’s in the process of throw­ing 30 mil­lion dos­es in the garbage, ex­claim­ing, “We have a big de­mand prob­lem.”

Ac­cord­ing to Swiss news site Swiss­In­fo, the cost of de­stroy­ing the vac­cines will be one franc, or $1.05, per kilo­gram. An es­ti­mat­ed 7 mil­lion Covid vac­cine dos­es are re­main­ing in the coun­try, but the num­ber of vac­ci­na­tions has fall­en sharply in re­cent months. Swiss­In­fo not­ed that in May, around 1,200 dos­es were be­ing ad­min­is­tered a day, with the Swiss gov­ern­ment hav­ing bought 34 mil­lion dos­es for 2022.

In Feb­ru­ary, the gov­ern­ment said that 15 mil­lion vac­cine dos­es could be trans­ferred to the CO­V­AX pro­gram which seeks to en­sure fair and eq­ui­table ac­cess to Covid-19 vac­cines world­wide and dis­trib­utes vac­cines to de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, how­ev­er, ne­go­ti­a­tions on this are said to be on­go­ing.

Switzer­land is not the on­ly Eu­ro­pean coun­try prep­ping for vac­cine de­struc­tion. Ear­li­er this month, health of­fi­cials in Den­mark, ac­cord­ing to Al Jazeera, said that 1.1 mil­lion ex­cess Covid-19 vac­cines had to be dis­card­ed due to the ex­pi­ra­tion date  and ef­forts to do­nate them to oth­er coun­tries failed.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port from the BBC, around 4.7 mil­lion Covid vac­cine dos­es end­ed up as wastage, in­clud­ing dos­es that had to be de­stroyed to the ex­pi­ra­tion date hit­ting, in Eng­land by the end of Oc­to­ber 2021, with the As­traZeneca vac­cine mak­ing up around 1.9 mil­lion of those dumped.

In the US, as pre­vi­ous­ly re­port­ed, a re­port re­vealed that Emer­gent had to de­stroy over 400 mil­lion dos­es of Covid-19 vac­cines af­ter fail­ures to meet qual­i­ty stan­dards.

Clin­i­cal tri­al di­ver­si­ty da­ta show mis­match be­tween en­roll­ment and dis­ease preva­lence, GSK says

A lack of diversity in clinical trials has persisted despite decades of initiatives to try to turn the tide.

In a recent review of 17 years of clinical trials, drugmaker GSK found that there were some mismatches between the demographics of its US-based trials and how prevalent diseases were in those populations.

The results, the company says, will help GSK and others design studies that better represent epidemiological rates within races and ethnicities.

Jean-Paul Clozel, Idorsia CEO (Patrick Straub/Keystone via AP Images)

Idor­si­a's brain bleed drug flunks PhI­II tri­al, a decade af­ter pre­vi­ous flop

Idorsia’s long journey with clazosentan came to an abrupt “unexpected result” Monday morning with a Phase III flop.

The Swiss biopharma said the drug did not meet the main goal of the late-stage REACT study, conducted in the US, Canada and Europe since early 2019.

The 409-patient trial tested the intravenous drug’s ability to prevent complications due to delayed cerebral ischemia following aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (aSAH), in which blood vessels in the brain narrow and blood accumulates around the brain’s surface, which then dials up the pressure on the brain.

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Kenji Yasukawa, Astellas CEO (Photographer: Akio Kon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Astel­las taps chief strat­e­gy of­fi­cer as next CEO to 'go on the ag­gres­sive'

Five years into its big R&D revamp, Astellas says it’s time for a changing of the guard.

Kenji Yasukawa, who took over as president and CEO in 2018, will step down to become chairman of the board in April, making room for Naoki Okamura to take over. Okamura joined the company in 1986 and has served in a variety of finance, business and strategy roles, including most recently as chief strategy officer.

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The Big Phar­ma dis­card pile; Lay­offs all around while some biotechs bid farewell; New Roche CEO as­sem­bles top team; 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.

With earnings seasons in full swing, we’ve listened in on all the calls so you don’t have to. But news is popping up from all corners, so make sure you check out our other updates, too.

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Uğur Şahin, BioNTech CEO (Andreas Arnold/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)

BioN­Tech opens new plas­mid DNA man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ty in Ger­many

German mRNA player BioNTech opened the doors to a new manufacturing facility on Thursday, this one just about 75 miles north of its headquarters in Mainz, Germany.

BioNTech announced on Thursday that it has completed the construction of its first plasmid DNA manufacturing facility in Marburg, Germany. The facility will produce materials for mRNA-based vaccines and therapies along with cell therapies.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) (Francis Chung/E&E News/Politico via AP Images)

In­fla­tion re­bates in­com­ing: Wyden calls on CMS to move quick­ly as No­var­tis CEO pledges re­ver­sal

Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) this week sent a letter to the head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services seeking an update on how and when new inflation-linked rebates will take effect for drugs that see major price spikes.

The newly signed Inflation Reduction Act requires manufacturers to pay a rebate to Medicare when they increase drug prices faster than the rate of inflation.

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Giovanni Caforio, Bristol Myers Squibb CEO (Nicolas Messyasz/Sipa via AP Images)

Bris­tol My­ers turns at­ten­tion to new prod­ucts in wake of Revlim­id patent loss

Bristol Myers Squibb CEO Giovanni Caforio is shifting his focus to newer products as generic sales continue to gnaw at the company’s blockbuster myeloma drug Revlimid.

Both Revlimid and Abraxane sales took a dive last year thanks to generic rivals, BMS reported in its Q4 and full-year results on Thursday. As a result, Q4 sales dipped 5% and full-year sales remained flat. However, Caforio sees a silver lining — or rather, two of them.

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Rob Davis, Merck CEO

Mer­ck’s Keytru­da nears $21B in sales, dou­bles down on com­bo tri­als

Merck’s cancer immunotherapy Keytruda notched sales of $20.9 billion in 2022, cementing its status as one of the world’s top-selling drugs. However, it’s far from resting on that accomplishment.

Merck executives touted nine ongoing trials in its annual earnings call on Thursday, including five studies in Phase III, for Keytruda (pembrolizumab) in combination with other immuno-oncology drugs. The trials include combinations with Merck’s own developments as well as other pharma companies’ candidates, including its melanoma collaboration with Moderna and its mRNA technology plus Keytruda, aimed at creating a personalized vaccine treatment to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence or death.

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FDA ap­proves GSK's ane­mia drug with safe­ty warn­ing — af­ter bat­ting back sim­i­lar drugs

GSK has secured the first of four US approvals it’s hoping for this year, as the FDA greenlit daprodustat as a treatment for anemia due to chronic kidney disease.

But the FDA limited the use of the drug, to be marketed as Jesduvroq, to patients who have been receiving dialysis for at least four months and stopped short of approving it for patients not dependent on dialysis — in line with the recommendations of the advisory committee it consulted.

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