💊 Ayurveda hopes to go global; An evolving toolkit against antibiotic resistance; No treatment, only toxins in Indonesian cough syrups
#450 | Building vaccine manufacturing capacities; Natural disasters spell agricultural disaster; Cutting calories to boost muscle
Hello there. Welcome back to a brand new week with The Kable. Last week, the WHO joined the UN in appealing to Israel to rescind its orders for the evacuation of over a million people from Gaza. People in Gaza are already at heightened risk of disease, as supplies of safe food, water, and health services dwindle. Hospitals that are still operational in the North of Gaza are already severely overcrowded. Add to that a lack of medical supplies. The Palestinian Ministry of Health has told the WHO that it is impossible to evacuate vulnerable hospital patients without threatening their lives. The WHO condemns Israel’s repeated orders for the evacuation of 22 hospitals, which have more than 2,000 inpatients, in northern Gaza. It is calling for the protection of health facilities, health workers, patients, and civilians. It is also reiterating its call for the safe passage of medical supplies, food, water, and fuel into Gaza through the Rafah crossing. MSF, too, has called on the Israel government to show humanity.
The Global Financing Facility, a World Bank-backed fund, which was established in 2015 to promote health service access, hopes to secure $800 million from donors at the World Health Summit. This funding is targeted at improving women’s health in Africa at a time when the Bank estimates that 41 governments worldwide will spend less on health in the coming years than they did pre-Covid.
Reaching across the world to partner on infectious disease R&D in LMICs, Japan’s GHIT Fund has inked an MoU with Senegal’s Institut Pasteur de Dakar. The partners will accelerate development of diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines for neglected diseases in LMICs. Through tech transfer and sharing know-how with Japanese pharma and academia, the partners will also support low-cost vaccine and diagnostic manufacturing in LMICs.
Meanwhile, Jordan has launched a $400 million healthcare city construction project. The project will be funded by the Saudi-Jordanian Investment Company, wholly owned by the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF).
In India, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) has granted approval to the Laurus Labs-backed ImmunoACT for its CAR-T cell therapy NexCAR19. Designed to treat certain types of blood cancer, this is the first therapy of its kind to be developed in India.
Today, we have another quality control issue emerging from India. Citing “failed dissolution specifications”, Zydus Pharmaceuticals, a New Jersey-based unit of India’s Zydus Lifesciences, has initiated a recall in the US. The products in question are over 7,000 bottles of Oxybutynin Chloride tablets used to treat overactive bladder and urinary conditions. The affected lot was produced in Ahmedabad, India.
In Indonesia, the National Research and Innovation Agency, or BRIN, intends to develop a dengue haemorrhagic fever vaccine domestically. The agency plans to use virus-like particles (VLP) to trigger antibody formation targeting four dengue serotypes. BRIN is optimistic that since its method is different from the ones used to develop other dengue vaccines, like Qdenga, it can achieve effectiveness of 90-95%.
Over in South Korea, GI Innovation has licensed out its allergy treatment candidate GI-301 to Japan’s Maruho, a pharma company specialising in dermatology. Including upfront payments, milestones, and royalties, GI is eligible to receive up to $221 million.
Coming to Big Pharma. As its Covid products rake in fewer $$$, Pfizer is cutting costs this year and next. Pfizer and the US government have revised the terms of their supply agreement for Paxlovid, with the US returning nearly 8 million treatment courses. As the company shifts to selling Paxlovid commercially, it has cut its revenue forecast for the year by $9 billion. Consequently, Pfizer is cutting at least $3.5 billion in costs. Of course, layoffs are also expected.
And finally, speaking of the pandemic that was, the US’ Project NextGen has selected initial next-gen vaccine candidates including a vector-based intranasal vaccine, a live-attenuated intranasal vaccine, and a self-amplifying mRNA vaccine. Under the project, the US Department of Health and Human Services has also announced about $500 million in awards to advance cold chain management, genomic sequencing, antibody test kit manufacturing, central lab capacity, and other vaccine and therapeutics platforms.