💊 Roche settles patent lawsuit against Biogen; Merck switches up its ADC portfolio; LLMs perpetuate race-based medical minisformation
#456 | The future of medical microrobots; Replicating life's 'squishy' substances in labs; The bacterial dance in our guts
Hello hello. Welcome back to The Kable for another bright, sunny day. Other than the few stories of disease, discrimination, and corporate greed we have for you, of course.
The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, or PSN, has disclosed that there are over two million unregistered pharmaceutical premises and 35 open drug markets across Nigeria. About 6,000 pharmacists have left the country over the past 6 years. The Pharmacy Council of Nigeria, or PCN, suffers from a lack of funding and other gaps. Naturally, this situation has been conducive to the proliferation of counterfeit and substandard drugs.
The Egyptian medical city GYPTO Pharma and a group of other Egyptian companies have inked contracts worth EGP 4 billion (~$130 million) with Saudi Arabian Med City Pharma to transfer drug manufacturing tech and production to Saudi Arabia. Under the deal, Med City factories will produce some of GYPTO’s drug brands, while some other Egyptian drug brands will also be registered in Saudi Arabia.
According to the WHO dashboard on sexual misconduct investigations, the vast majority of sexual misconduct complaints have been made in the WHO Africa Region. The WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region, meanwhile, is the origin of the majority of complaints concerning abusive conduct, which includes all misconduct except for sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment. The WHO Director of the Prevention of and Response to Sexual Misconduct team has described the WHO’s attempts to change this culture, calling the WHO’s response the most detailed across UN agencies, with every person who works for or with the agency having very distinct accountabilities to prevent and respond to sexual misconduct.
Dengue numbers in Bangladesh continue to rise. With 17 new deaths in 24 hours, the death toll now stands at 1,272. A total of 7,589 dengue patients are currently receiving treatment at hospitals across the country.
The merger between South Korea-based Celltrion Group’s Celltrion Inc and Celltrion Healthcare Co has been approved by shareholders of the two companies. The merger will move Celltrion closer to its vision of earning KRW 12 trillion in sales by 2030 and becoming a global biopharma.
Building on years of collaboration, Nanoform has granted AstraZeneca a global online license to access its STARMAP AI technology to screen molecules and accelerate drug development. STARMAP is the AI version of Nanoform’s Controlled Expansion of Supercritical Solutions (CESS) technology, which enables the creation of API nanoparticles directly from solution.
Switzerland’s Roche has settled a patent lawsuit against the US’ Biogen. The lawsuit concerned Biogen’s biosimilar version of Roche’s blockbuster Actemra, a rheumatoid arthritis drug.
Merck & Co is abandoning its joint development of two cancer drug candidates with China’s Sichuan Kelun Pharmaceutical. The two ADCs have yet to start clinical trials. Merck’s cooperation with Sichuan on 7 other ADC candidates, three of which are in clinical trials, remains unaffected. We guess Merck is just making space for the three expensive ADCs it intends to co-develop with Daiichi Sankyo.
Meanwhile, the US FDA has approved Medtronic’s first-of-its-kind extravascular defibrillator to treat abnormal heart rhythms, which can lead to sudden cardiac arrest.
The US FDA has also approved Celltrion’s Zymfentra, the first subcutaneous version of the blockbuster biologic Infliximab, as maintenance therapy for inflammatory bowel disease.
It’s tempting to use AI anywhere and everywhere you can. Hospitals and healthcare systems have also turned to AI to summarise doctors’ notes and analyse health records. However, a new study led by researchers from the Stanford School of Medicine cautions that popular LLMs are perpetuating racist medical ideas which have been scientifically refuted. The study has raised concerns that the tools could worsen some forms of medical racism. OpenAI’s ChatGPT and GPT-4, Google’s Bard, and Anthropic’s Claude all failed to answer questions about kidney function, lung capacity, and skin thickness accurately, reinforcing false beliefs about race-based biological differences – beliefs that medical professionals have been trying to eliminate from medicine. According to Google itself, you probably shouldn’t rely on its (or any other) AI chatbot for medical advice.
As Pfizer sees its Covid revenue drop substantially, it has announced plans to more than double the cost of antiviral Paxlovid starting January, when the drug goes from being sourced by the US government to being sold commercially. But the AIDS Healthcare Foundation is not taking this lying down. The advocacy group has publicly criticised Pfizer for causing patient suffering. “Greedy Pfizer,” it says, is profiteering “off the backs of sick people”.
And finally, 70 countries convened at the International Conference on "Primary health care policy and practice: implementing for better results” in Kazakhstan to step up primary healthcare investments by 2030.