💊 BioNTech revises Africa plans; World leaders revise TB targets; Cholera doesn't revise global plans
#435 | Gut health for bone health; Coffee for cognition; Clean air for health equity
Hello there. Welcome back to The Kable. Why should firsts get all the attention? Seconds are important too. Like this transplant of a pig heart into a living human recipient.
Some good things came out of Covid. Like increased sequencing capabilities. By the end of 2022, 163 out of 194 WHO Member States had SARS-CoV-2 sequencing capability – a 58% increase since February 2021. But how should countries now develop and sustain genomic surveillance strategies for pathogens with pandemic and epidemic potential? The WHO has recently released guidance to help national governments develop a relevant strategy which will be useful to public and private sectors, donors, academia, and other stakeholders.
In 2018, world leaders set targets for a five-year period to combat tuberculosis. But mainly due to Covid- and conflict-linked disruptions, global efforts fell short in treating people, preventing infection, funding research, and funding TB services in LMICs, creating a 50% financing gap last year. In addition to the newly launched TB Vaccine Accelerator Council, at the UN General Assembly, world leaders also approved a political declaration with new targets for the next 5 years to strengthen the fight against TB.
Meanwhile, in India – which is targeting to eliminate TB by 2025 – three drugs critical for TB treatment have been unavailable for a month in the state of Maharashtra. Further, limitations in procuring the drugs Clofazimine, Linezolid, and Cycloserine have led to fears of a potential rise in fatalities.
In one of only two Africa stories in today's Synopsis, African Union Heads of State, global health leaders and development partners issued a joint call for urgent action on malaria on Friday. There is currently a financing gap of $1.5 billion, with climate change and growing resistance to insecticides, antimalarials, and rapid diagnostics making matters worse. Failing to address the looming malaria emergency immediately will risk targets set by both the AU and the UN to end malaria by 2030.
Kenya’s Pharmacy and Poisons Board has recalled Tamedol, an oral paracetamol solution meant for children. The medicine, manufactured by local drugmaker Biopharma, is the 9th medicine recalled in Kenya this year alone.
Across the Indian Ocean, Pakistan is also recalling a drug. Avastin, an injectable medicine has resulted in severe eye infection and sight loss in diabetic patients. An investigation has been ordered and a case has been lodged against two absconding suppliers of the drug.
In neighbouring India, Lupin has inked a deal to acquire five drug brands from Italy’s Menarini. The deal worth Rs 101 crore covers drugs in the gastroenterology, urology, and anti-infective segments. Lupin has already been exclusively marketing these brands in India since July 2021.
And speaking of drugs for your gut, two popular laxative syrups may soon be in short supply in India, Abbott Laboratories’ India unit warns. This update comes after drug inspectors asked the company to stop production at its Goa factory after contaminations risks and sanitation issues were detected during an inspection triggered by the recall of the antacid Digene Gel last month.
In 2020, AbbVie had acquired the rights to China-based biotech I-Mab’s antibody-based drug candidates, one of which was Lemzoparlimab, outside China. In August last year, AbbVie stopped an early-stage study that was testing Lemzoparlimab in combination with two other drugs to treat two types of blood cancers. Consequently, the company is now also terminating its deal with I-Mab, which is exploring other development opportunities for the drug.
Coming to Big Pharma and marketing breaches, Novartis has company in the line of fire. The UK’s Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority, or PMCPA, claims Roche has brought discredit upon, and reduced confidence in, the pharmaceutical industry by not providing information essential for patient safety on a webpage for dosing considerations of the cancer drug Rozlytrek. This is Roche’s third breach of Clause 2 in two years.
And finally, Britain is taking a leaf out of New Zealand’s book as it considers introducing anti-smoking measures which would, in effect, ban people born 2009 and after from ever buying cigarettes.