InnovationRx: Controversial Biogen Approal; Plus Biden’s Global Vaccine Push
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This week the FDA conditionally approved Biogen’s aducanumab, which will be the first new Alzheimer’s drug to hit the market in nearly two decades. But the decision is mired in controversy, since the drug’s phase 3 trials had mixed results. While one showed a 22% reduction in Alzheimer’s-related cognitive decline, a second showed no benefit. The FDA said Biogen would be required to complete post-approval studies, but, in the meantime, the drug will soon be on the market with a price tag around $50,000. While Biogen stock soared on the news, there’s concern this sets a risky precedent for future drug approvals and the evidence needed to show a drug’s effectiveness.
The FDA also recently approved a new medication to treat obesity, Wegovy, but it could likely face reimbursement challenges Forbes contributor Joshua Cohen reports. Sales of weight loss drugs have disappointed for decades, along with several high-profile withdrawals from the market. Similarly, newly approved Brexafemme, a treatment for vaginal yeast infection, may also face uptake hurdles, since it’s price point of $350 and $450 is 10 times that of the main competitor fluconazole.
Venture Funding For Mental Health Startups Hits Record High
In 2019, around 11% of U.S. adults reported experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression, which skyrocketed to 42% by December 2020. While some venture capital investors had started dabbling in mental health over the past few years, they poured a record $1.5 billion in funding to respond to the rapidly growing demand. There are now seven mental health unicorns in the U.S., up from two a year ago, buoyed by the flurry of digital health IPOs, SPAC deals and M&A activity. But experts caution technology alone won’t solve long standing problems like low reimbursement rates and provider shortages. Read more here.
Medicare Advantage insurer Clover Healthhits record high stock price, and then falls, as Reddit trading mania intensifies.
Virtual care startup Babylon Health will go public later this year in $4.2 billion SPAC deal as U.K.-based company plans major expansion into the U.S.
Medline Industries, a family-owned maker of medical equipment, sold itself for about $30 billion to a consortium of private equity firms.
The U.S. has given out more Covid-19 vaccines than most countries in the world — which is both good and bad. Good because people in the U.S. are safer from the Covid-19 virus, and cases of the disease are steadily decreasing. Yet global experts are concerned that the stark inequalities in vaccine distribution could actually lead to new variants in low-income countries, prolonging the pandemic for everyone. President Biden’s administration has been criticized in recent weeks for the number of vaccines that the U.S. bought, including millions of doses that will expire soon. In an effort to keep his pledge to help lower-income nations, the President announced today that the federal government will buy 500 million additional doses of the Pfizer vaccine and ship them to low income countries. It’s still unclear however when these doses will get to other nations, and it might not happen until 2022.
Public-Private Partnerships Are Essential For Preventing Pandemics
Experts say that tapping into the private sector can help provide valuable technology for disease surveillance on a local and global level. Here are the companies that make up these essential partnerships. Read more here.