We are back with the second segment of our new series! Each week, we give you a condensed overview of the most crucial and interesting events that are happening in your favorite segments – FinTech, BioTech, and Telecom. Today we focus on BioTech. As several countries are facing the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, the governments, pharmaceutical companies, and startups all try to mobilize their powers to come with an effective treatment that can tackle the virus. As the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is being prepared for the rollout in the United States, experts claim it can be a game-changer. Meanwhile, the G-20 countries are working on solutions to facilitate equal distribution of the vaccines between the poor and the rich countries and Slovakia is the second EU country to order the Sputnik V vaccine that did not receive an official EU approval. In the United States, on the other hand, the FDA made the Pfizer vaccine easier to distribute by easing the storage requirements. Apart from the Covid-19 news, we are going to focus on the two biggest acquisitions in BioTech this week, the newly issued report on MHealth, and more. Stick around and find out what is happening in biotech, the March 2021 edition.
BioTech News: The Johnson & Johnson vaccine can be a game-changer
Doctor Muriel Jean-Jacques, an assistant professor of medicine at Northwestern University said that Johnson & Johnson could “be a total game-changer,”Millions of the doses of the vaccine that was recently approved in the United State will soon be available and bring hope to tackle the increase of the U.S cases after a period of sharp declines.
“We’ve never had to vaccinate our whole population at the same time before — not to mention the rest of the world — so having more vaccines will make that easier,” Jean-Jacques said. On Saturday, the vaccine was approved by FDA for emergency use, and already on Monday, 4 million doses were shipped with 16 million more expected to be shipped soon.
Why Is The Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Exceptional?
What is exceptional about the Johnson &Johnson vaccine manufactured by their subsidiary, Janssen Biotech, is that only one dose is required for the full effect. It can also be stored in regular refrigerators which makes it much easier to efficiently distribute than the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines that were earlier approved by the FDA. Moreover, the ability to roll out the third vaccine simultaneously can facilitate the distribution problems that the country has been facing.
Doctor Stella Safo, an assistant professor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai said, “It’s invaluable, the more options we have, the better. It’s really a thing to celebrate.”
The FDA clinical trials showed the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to be 85% effective against severed Covid-19 disease, 100% effective at preventing death, and 72% effective at preventing moderate to severe disease. It may seem like a much lower number than Moderna’s 94% effectivity and Pfizer’s 95% effectivity rates. Having said that, experts emphasize that all three vaccines will offer enough protection to avoid the severe disease of Covid-19.
“We’re not comparing the same thing, because the pandemic has changed,” Safo said. “The reality of where we are now is very different compared to the summer when those other vaccines were first evaluated.”
Similarly, Dr. Anthony Facui said that all three vaccines were quite good and “people should take the one that’s most available to them,”
EU’s BioTech News: Slovakia Secures 200 000 Doses Of The Russian Sputnik Vaccine
Early this week, Slovakia that has been particularly hit by the Covid-19 has agreed to acquire 2 million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine developed in Russia. The purchase of the vaccine was kept as a secret by the Slovak government until the military cargo plane with the first portion of the vaccine landed at Kosice airport on Monday.
On Monday, Slovakia received 200 000 doses and it expects another one million doses until the end of Apri. The final one million doses will be delivered in May and June. The decision to secure the Russian Sputnik V vaccine may come as a surprise to many. The Prime Minister of Slovakia, Igor Matovic, and his coalition government have initially rejected the idea of acquiring Sputnik.
After the reversal of the decision made possible because the Health Minister, Marek Kracji, Slovakia will be ready to administer the vaccine already in March. So far, Slovakia is the second EU country (Hungary being the first one) that has secured the Russian vaccine which has not been approved by the European Medicines Agency. Other central-European countries are also discussing the use of Sputnik V as the situation worsens, however, no official decisions have been made as of now.
Covid-19 Biotech News: G-20 Countries Discuss Equal Covid-19 Recovery
One of the biggest concerns in the Covid-19 pandemic is the unequal distribution of vaccines between wealthy and poor countries. Italy’s economy minister said on Friday that the G-20 countries are trying to find an efficient solution on how to secure an even recovery from the pandemic both in health terms and economic terms for all nations.
Granting easily accessible vaccinations for all is a key priority at this moment. Daniele Franco, Italy’s economic minister told AP News that equitable distributions of vaccines and addressing the financing gap that the WHO has estimated to be at $22.9 billion is crucial.
“We will not get back to our normal lives until the virus is eradicated in all countries,” Franco said. He highlighted that a “bold and global response aimed at curbing the virus diffusion everywhere” is needed.
Franco told AP News that the G-20 group was also discussing the economic recovery and how the cooperation between the G-20 countries should be adjusted to ensure that the global economy will be on a path to sustainable growth. The participants agreed that premature withdrawal of fiscal support or monetary support will be avoided at the highest cost.
“It is essential that we remain vigilant, and learn from previous crises,” Franco said.
Newest Biotech Report News: Mhealth Apps To Develop At An Unprecedented Growth Rate
We have previously reported that the mHealth market has received a huge boost by the pandemic and is one of the fastest-growing technology segments. Being able to use applications for treatment and monitoring patients is saving long-term costs and money and has been hugely successful up til now, which leads to more companies wanting a piece of the mobile health market.
Early this week, a report on the mHealth apps market for 2020-2030 has been released, showing the growth indications and the key trends. According to the report, some of the most competitive and large players in the mHealth market include Abbott Laboratories, Johnson and Johnson, F.Hoffmaa-La Roche Ltd., Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Merck and Co. Inc., Sanofi, Qualcomm Technologies Inc., Google Alphabet Inc., Airstrip Technologies Inc., Apple Inc., AstraZeneca plc, Novartis AG, GlaxoSmithKline plc, Pfizer Inc., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Orange, Allscripts, and AT&T.
According to the report, one of the big reasons for the massive growth of the mHealth industry is the huge numbers of mobile healthcare applications developed both by large and small and up-and-coming companies. The third quarter of 2020 saw 47,140 mHealth apps on the Google play store which is a drastic increase from 27, 417 mobile apps that were available in Q3 of 2015.
As the mHealth apps are receiving positive reviews, with 93% of physicians believing they have a beneficial effect on the outcomes of the patient, it is likely that they will be recommended by physicians more and more.
M&A BioTech News: Roivant Sciences Acquires Silicon Therapeutics For $450 Million!
The umbrella company Roivent Sciences has just acquired Silicon Therapeutics for $450 million in Roivant equity. The Roivant’s companies consist of Immunovant, Dermavant, Datavant, Aruvant, Genevant, Cytovant, Sinovant and others. Each of the companies focuses on a different goal within the biotech world. Silicon Therapeutics will be the latest to join.
The platform of Silicon Therapeutics uses computational physics for the in silico design and optimization of small-molecule drugs. The recently announced acquisition will complete Roivant’s planned protein degradation platform. The Silicon Therapeutics acquisition is designed to complement Roivant’s targeted protein degradation platform by combining computational physics and machine learning-based approaches to drug design.
The researchers who were leading the drug discovery programs at Silicon Therapeutics, Woody Sherman, Huafeng Xu, and Chris Winter, will now join the drug discovery leadership team at Roivant.
“We are delighted to integrate Silicon Therapeutics into Roivant as we continue to expand our capabilities in computationally-powered drug discovery,” said Matt Gline, CEO of Roivant. “We intend to leverage our established development apparatus as we rapidly advance promising compounds from our drug discovery engine into clinical studies.”
Similarly, Silicon Therapeutics has also commented on the recent acquisition. Lanny Sun, co-founder and CEO of the newly acquired company said, “Silicon Therapeutics was founded with a vision of transforming the pharmaceutical industry through the use of technology. By joining forces with Roivant, we can significantly accelerate making this vision a reality. Roivant has an impressive track record in clinical execution and building and deploying technology platforms to power pharmaceutical research, development, and commercialization.
M&A Biotech News: ICON Will Acquire PRA Health Sciences For $12 Billion!
ICON will acquire PRA Health Sciences for approximately $12 billion in cash and stock, companies announced in a statement late last week. The combined two companies’ goal is the leader position in clinical research and more efficient clinical trials.
In their statement, ICON and PRA have spoken about an increasing need for decentralized and hybrid clinical trials solutions that will use data from health platforms and mobile platforms. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown the urgent need for speedy and efficient clinical trials that are, unfortunately, lacking now.
“COVID-19 created a platform for change that we cannot ignore,” the CEO of PRA, Colin Shannon, said in a statement “The pandemic accelerated the adoption of mobile health technologies and healthcare intelligence tools—tools that PRA helped develop—at an unprecedented rate.”
ICON, on the other hand, provided clinical trials towards the approval of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. ICON was in charge of recruiting the trials participants, site training, operational supports, clinical supply, and document management.
10,8% Decline In Revenue For ICON
While ICON has been busy with the Pfizer clinical trials, the pandemic has had an impact on clinical trials in other areas that were either delayed or temporarily paused. 65% of the global sites of ICON were impacted and the revenues were down by 10.8% as a result.
ICON hopes that acquiring the U.S-based company that provides data solution services and outsources clinical development, using more than 75 offices in North America, Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa, Australia, and the Middle East, and employing almost 20 000 employees worldwide, will help them get back on track.
ICON and PRA want to join forces and build a platform for growth and innovation in the clinical market segments and start strategic partnerships with most of the current top 20 biopharma giants.
“We will be the leading provider of decentralized and hybrid trial solutions through the integration of our data capabilities, health platforms, and Accellacare site network,” ICON CEO Steve Cutler, Ph.D., said “With broader and deeper operational scale combined with innovative technology and real-world data solutions, we will enable all customers to reduce their development time and cost.”
Covid 19 Biotech News: FDA Eases The Temperature Requirements For Pfizer Vaccine
Last week, Pfizer announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has allowed more flexible storage conditions for the vaccine that the pharmaceutical giant has developed together with BioNTech.
With the easing up of the rules, the undiluted and frozen vials of the Pfizer vaccine will be able to be transported and stored at temperatures common for pharmaceutical freezers for up to 14 days. This offers a great alternative for the recommender or preferred storage of the undiluted vials in the ultra-low temperate freezers that were making the distribution and accessibility of the vaccine extremely hard.
“This alternative temperature for transportation and storage of the undiluted vials is significant and allows the vials to be transported and stored under more flexible conditions. The alternative temperature for transportation and storage will help ease the burden of procuring ultra-low cold storage equipment for vaccination sites and should help to get the vaccine to more sites,” The FDA has informed in their official statement.
If you want to know more about BioTech, make sure you check out our biotech section: