Big Moves in Biotech: Funding, Acquisitions, and Drug Forecasts

Biotech companies are making significant advancements, including BioNTech securing $145 million for African vaccine plants, Catalent's buyout by Novo Holdings, and Johnson & Johnson's promising depression drug. Meanwhile, weight-loss drug forecasts jump to $150 billion, and Merck plans to diversify with a $3 billion acquisition of EyeBio.

Reuters | Updated: 30-05-2024 02:31 IST | Created: 30-05-2024 02:31 IST
Big Moves in Biotech: Funding, Acquisitions, and Drug Forecasts
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Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

BioNTech gets $145 million funding for African vaccine plants

COVID-19 vaccine maker BioNTech has secured up to $145 million in funding from a global coalition against infectious diseases to help build a production network in Africa for shots based on cutting-edge messenger-RNA (mRNA) technology. BioNTech and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) said in a joint statement on Wednesday that the financial support was part of an expanded partnership as the German biotech firm builds an mRNA vaccine factory site in Rwanda's capital Kigali.

Catalent stockholders approve buyout by Novo Holdings

Catalent said on Wednesday its stockholders have voted to approve Novo Nordisk parent's $16.5 billion bid to take over the contract manufacturer. In February, Novo Holdings had agreed to buy Catalent, a key manufacturing subcontractor of Wegovy, to boost the output amid soaring demand for the blockbuster obesity drug.

Analysis-Weight-loss drug forecasts jump to $150 billion as supply grows

As millions seek access to weight-loss drugs from Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly, increasing supplies, possible wider usage and a growing number of would-be rivals are leading some experts to raise annual global sales forecasts for the treatments to about $150 billion by the early 2030s. A year ago, top sales estimates were in the $100 billion range.

J&J's drug eases depression and insomnia symptoms in late-stage study

Johnson & Johnson's experimental drug helped reduce symptoms of depression as well as insomnia in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) in a late-stage trial, the company said in a statement on Wednesday. The trial was testing the drug, called seltorexant, in patients with both depression and insomnia. Sleep disturbances often accompany depression, despite treatment with commonly-used antidepressant drugs.

Exclusive-Nicotine-like chemicals in U.S. vapes may be more potent than nicotine, FDA says

Nicotine alternatives used in vapes being launched in the U.S. and abroad, such as 6-methyl nicotine, may be more potent and addictive than nicotine itself, though the scientific data remains incomplete, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and independent researchers. The synthetic substances - which have a chemical structure similar to that of nicotine - are not subject to U.S. tobacco and vaping regulations that are designed to control traditional nicotine, a highly addictive drug.

France against Servier selling generics unit Biogaran, PM says

The French government has told drugmaker Servier it is against any sale of its generics subsidiary Biogaran, which has a market share of almost a third in the country, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal said on Wednesday. French media reported last month that Servier had asked potential suitors to file their offers by mid-June.

US health insurer shares fall after UnitedHealth flags Medicaid enrollment issues

Shares of U.S. health insurers fell on Wednesday after UnitedHealth Group cited a near-term disturbance around reimbursement rates for Medicaid due to ongoing program-wide enrollment hurdles that began about a year ago. UnitedHealth shares were down 4.2% to $482.46, while rivals Humana, Centene, and Elevance Health fell 3.2%, 3.7%, and 2.6%, respectively.

JBS says China blocks beef from US plant over detection of ractopamine

Meat processor JBS said on Wednesday that Beijing blocked U.S. beef shipments from the company's plant in Greeley, Colorado, because traces of the feed additive ractopamine were identified in beef destined for China. Brazil-based JBS, the world's largest beef producer, said in a statement it is working with U.S. and Chinese authorities to resolve the situation and that no other JBS beef facilities in the U.S. have been impacted.

U.S. health secretary sees pandemic treaty deal as close

The top U.S. health official said on Wednesday it would be "tragic" for the world to miss out on key reforms to the global pandemic response and that a treaty deal was within reach, with no major differences between negotiators. Health officials are meeting in Geneva this week to try to wrap up more than two years of negotiations on a pandemic treaty and a series of updates to existing International Health Rules (IHR). However, countries have failed to finalise the treaty at this assembly and countries are considering an extension.

Merck to buy eye-focused drug developer EyeBio for as much as $3 billion

Merck on Wednesday agreed to buy privately held biotech EyeBio for as much as $3 billion, as it looks to diversify its portfolio of experimental drugs with treatments for eye diseases. The drugmaker agreed to pay $1.3 billion in cash and another $1.7 billion in future milestone-based payments for EyeBio, and will gain access to its retinal disease drug Restoret as part of the deal.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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