💊 COVAX sits on a fat bank balance; Pfizer drops a weight loss candidate; Eli Lilly's drug helps drop weight
#371 | Malaria's American comeback; The cost of environmental degradation; No more seafood
Hello there, reader. Welcome back to The Kable. GLP-1 agonists for weight loss have been all the rage lately, with Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy and Ozempic witnessing high demand and Eli Lilly’s drug doing pretty well too (more on this below). But Pfizer’s GLP-1 journey, already lagging behind Nordisk and Lilly, has just had another setback. The company is abandoning Lotiglipron, one of its two experimental weight loss pills after safety concerns arose about potential organ damage in patients showing liver enzyme elevations. Pfizer’s other similar candidate, Danuglipron - which needs to be taken twice as often as rival obesity drugs - is currently in phase 2 testing.
Speaking of rivals, Eli Lilly’s phase 2 study of Retatrutide, its next-gen obesity treatment, demonstrated an average drop of 24% in body weight over a period of 48 weeks. Compare this to Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy, which resulted in a 12% weight reduction, and Lilly’s own Mounjaro (yet-to-be approved for obesity), showing a 16% reduction.
Meanwhile, South Korea-based Kakao Healthcare has signed a global collaboration agreement with San Diego, USA-based Dexcom. The companies intend to cooperate on a hyper-personalised Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM)-based blood sugar management, combining Kakao’s software and AI capabilities with Dexcom’s CGM hardware capabilities.
Japan’s Shionogi has expanded its antibiotics pipeline with its acquisition of San Diego-based Qpex Biopharma and its clinical-stage programmes. Shionogi is offering Qpex $100 million upfront and another $40 million on achieving development and regulatory milestones.
Japan’s Strategic Centre of Biomedical Advanced Vaccine Research and Development for Preparedness and Response – phew, that’s a long name, let’s just call it SCARDA – has signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with CEPI to speed up global preparedness and response to future pandemics.
Through the UNDP facility set up in Sri Lanka, the Michelin Foundation is channelling support to procure essential medicines and address drug shortages that have plagued the country as it goes through a socio-economic crisis.
Egypt-based UG Medical is partnering with a Japanese firm to build a factory to produce equipment for medical lab tests. The project aims to fulfil demand in the local market as well as in South America, Africa and the Middle East.
South Korea’s SK Bioscience is teaming up with Australia’s Peter Doherty Institute to advance research in influenza biology, vaccines and antivirals.
In the UK, a high “risk of operational failure” is causing the non-profit National Cancer Research Institute to shut shop after 22 years.
And finally, in the US, locally-acquired malaria has made a comeback after 20 years. Five cases of the mosquito-borne disease have been confirmed in Florida and Texas. Vox explains the situation here.