Sunday, July 4, 2021

Fierce Pharma Asia—Moderna-Samsung COVID vaccine pact; Astellas’ 5-year plan; more Novo investment


Moderna partnered with Samsung Biologics to help it with fill-finish work of its mRNA COVID-19 vaccine for supply to locations outside the U.S. Astellas dialed up peak sales estimates for cancer drugs Xtandi and Padcev in a new five-year plan. Novo Holdings co-led a $200 million investment round in Singapore-based Esco Lifesciences, which plans to build a cell and gene therapy tech hub in Boston. And more.

1. Moderna taps Samsung for fill-finish duties on ‘hundreds of millions’ of COVID-19 vaccine doses

Moderna tapped Samsung Biologics for commercial fill-finish duties on its mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine. The companies aim to start delivering doses from the CDMO’s Incheon, South Korea, facilities for countries other than the U.S. in the third quarter. The news came shortly after Moderna said it would set up a commercial subsidiary in the country later this year.

2. Moderna aims to launch a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine next year in India: report

Meanwhile, Moderna aims to launch a single-dose version of its mRNA COVID-19 vaccine in India next year and is in discussion with local drugmakers to supply it, according to PTI. The company won’t have any doses to spare this year. Fellow mRNA players Pfizer and BioNTech plan to ship 50 million doses of their partnered shot to the country from July to October.

3. Xtandi raise, Padcev lift and a women’s health surprise: Astellas outlines $17B 5-year plan

Astellas unveiled its new five-year plan, dialing up peak sales estimates for key drugs including Pfizer-partnered prostate cancer drug Xtandi and Seagen-shared bladder cancer antibody-drug conjugate Padcev. By March 2026, the company expects sales to jump to around JPY 1.8 trillion ($16.5 billion), a target that’s 10% ahead of pharma watchers’ consensus.

4. Esco raises $200M to set up Boston cell and gene therapy hub

Novo Holdings continues to flesh out its ambitions in Asia. Together with Vivo Capital, the Novo Nordisk investment arm co-led a $200 million series A in Singapore-based Esco Lifesciences. The company will go toward establishing a hub for cell and gene therapy tools and technologies in Boston and expanding in China as well as making bolt-on acquisitions.

5. Takeda’s dengue shot keeps 84% of kids out of hospital regardless of prior infection, giving it a leg up over Sanofi’s Dengvaxia

Takeda unveiled long-term data for its dengue vaccine, TAK-003. The shot was 83.6% effective at preventing hospitalization after three years, down from the 95.4% reported at the one-year mark. Importantly, the vaccine kept children out of hospital regardless of whether they had been infected with dengue before. Increased risk of more serious disease in previously uninfected people is a problem with Sanofi’s Dengvaxia.

6. BeiGene’s Novartis-partnered PD-1 drug hits goal in phase 3

BeiGene and Novartis’ PD-1 inhibitor tislelizumab showed its use alongside chemotherapy could help keep newly diagnosed nasopharyngeal cancer at bay. The pair said the phase 3 win from the Rationale 309 trial tees up potential filings with health authorities.

7. With the Olympics just months away, Japan issues emergency nod for AstraZeneca, Moderna vaccines

Japan approved COVID-19 vaccines from AstraZeneca and Moderna. Takeda is responsible for distributing the Moderna shot in the country. Local drugmakers JCR Pharmaceuticals, Daiichi Sankyo and others are helping AZ manufacture the shot. Vaccination has been slow in the country, with large numbers of Pfizer-BioNTech shots reportedly going unused before these two new nods.

8. Breathonix’s 60-second COVID-19 breathalyzer test receives provisional green light in Singapore

Singapore granted provisional authorization to the BreFence Go COVID breath test by Breathonix, a spinout from the National University of Singapore. The breathalyzer can study the organic compounds in each exhaled breath and use an algorithm to identify those uniquely associated with the coronavirus.

9. Otsuka creates Gen J in new Jynarque ads that aim to separate kidney from disease

Otsuka launched a brand campaign for Jynarque for a rare inherited disease called autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease. It created the “Gen J” moniker for patients who may be able to control progression with the drug. In video ads, people are confronted by the giant letters of “ADPKD” and manage to separate the “K” and the “D” to create the space to pass.

Other News of Note:

10. Zydus launches first biosimilar to Roche’s star ADC Kadcyla in India at 80% discount (release, PDF)

11. Fine-tuning the brain’s immune cells to tackle Alzheimer’s

12. A DNA COVID-19 vaccine, delivered with help of electrical pulse, shows early promise

13. Mexico ramping up COVID-19 trial work tapping Sanofi, China’s shots in late-stage tests



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