Health News Roundup: Cash-rich BioNTech plans to spend about $1 billion more on research this year; Pakistan defers decision on drug price rise as pharma firms struggle and more
The justices heard arguments in Amgen's appeal of a lower court's ruling that invalidated two of its patents on Repatha, a drug that can reduce risk of heart attack and stroke in people with heart disease, after a legal fight with French drugmaker Sanofi and its partner Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. CVS expects to close $8 billion Signify deal this week CVS Health Corp said on Monday it expects to complete its acquisition of healthcare services company Signify Health this week, subject to certain conditions, potentially ending months of antitrust scrutiny on the $8 billion deal.
Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Cash-rich BioNTech plans to spend about $1 billion more on research this year
BioNTech plans to spend up to about 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) more on research and development and buy back up to $500 million more of its shares this year, drawing on more than 21 billion euros from the now waning commercial success of its COVID-19 vaccine. In a statement on Monday, Germany's BioNTech, Pfizer's partner on the Comirnaty vaccine, said it plans to spend 2.4 to 2.6 billion euros on research and development (R&D) in 2023, up from 1.54 billion euros last year.
"We plan to continue investing in our transformation with a focus on building commercial capabilities in oncology and working towards registrational trials," said Chief Executive and Co-Founder Ugur Sahin.
Pakistan defers decision on drug price rise as pharma firms struggle
Pakistan on Monday deferred a decision on a request by pharmaceutical firms to raise the prices of more than 100 medicines, prolonging a stand-off with an industry struggling to stem losses from soaring inflation and a weakened currency. The request was discussed during a meeting of the finance ministry's Economic Coordination Committee, but no decision was taken, a ministry statement said. It was unclear when the matter would be discussed again, officials said.
Cash-strapped biotech firm Codiak files for bankruptcy protection
Codiak BioSciences Inc said on Monday it has filed for U.S. bankruptcy protection in the latest blow to the struggling drug developer's ambitions of making a COVID-19 vaccine. The Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing ends months of investor uncertainty after the company, which has been facing a cash crunch, raised going concerns doubts and cut its workforce by 37% last year.
Musk's brain implant company in search of human trials partner
Elon Musk's brain implant company Neuralink has approached one of the biggest U.S. neurosurgery centers as a potential clinical trials partner as it prepares to test its devices on humans once regulators allow for it, according to six people familiar with the matter. Neuralink has been developing brain implants since 2016 it hopes will eventually be a cure for intractable conditions such as paralysis and blindness.
Cigna's PBM, two others sued in Ohio over drug price fixing
Ohio on Monday filed a lawsuit accusing Cigna Group, Humana Inc and others of colluding to drive up prescription drug prices by charging exorbitant fees for pharmacy benefit management services. The lawsuit, filed by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost in the Delaware County Common Pleas Court, comes amid growing scrutiny by state and federal regulators of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) like Cigna's Express Scripts unit, which is named as a defendant. PBMs negotiate drug prices with manufacturers, health plans and pharmacies.
U.S. Supreme Court mulls Amgen bid to revive cholesterol drug patents
Amgen Inc sought to convince the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to revive patents on its cholesterol-lowering drug Repatha, while rival Sanofi SA urged the justices not to stifle competition for therapies to address a common health risk. The justices heard arguments in Amgen's appeal of a lower court's ruling that invalidated two of its patents on Repatha, a drug that can reduce risk of heart attack and stroke in people with heart disease, after a legal fight with French drugmaker Sanofi and its partner Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc.
CVS expects to close $8 billion Signify deal this week
CVS Health Corp said on Monday it expects to complete its acquisition of healthcare services company Signify Health this week, subject to certain conditions, potentially ending months of antitrust scrutiny on the $8 billion deal. CVS' potential acquisitions of two healthcare service providers Signify and Oak Street Health, along with other such deals, have been facing increasing scrutiny over their impact on cost of healthcare in the United States.
Novartis buoyed by trial success in early-stage breast cancer
Novartis's Kisqali breast cancer drug cut the risk of recurrence in women who were diagnosed at an early stage of the disease in a pivotal trial, providing a confidence boost for the drugmaker's growth prospects. The Swiss firm's shares jumped 5.8% on Monday to a four-week high by 0734 GMT, after it said a panel of independent supervisors recommended stopping the trial early because an interim analysis had shown a clear benefit.
Amgen-Sanofi patent case divides makers of antibody drugs
Amgen Inc's battle with Sanofi and Regeneron at the U.S. Supreme Court over its cholesterol drug Repatha on Monday has some drugmakers hoping a ruling will reshape U.S. patent law and competition among companies that make antibody medicines. In the dispute with Sanofi and partner Regeneron, whose cholesterol-lowering monoclonal antibody drug Praluent works in a similar way as Repatha, Amgen wants the court to rule on how much information it and others need to disclose when describing inventions in patents.
(With inputs from agencies.)