💊 The end of Sanofi’s Nigerian sojourn; Africa’s air pollution a global problem; The hazards of toiling under the sun
#468 | Puffing pot, huffing heart; Fighting fungi, not kidneys; Vitamin B3 against chronic pain
Hello there. Welcome back to The Kable. In the Gaza Strip, Israeli air bombardments have disrupted the health system and waste management systems, caused crowding in shelters, and hampered access to clean water and sanitation systems. The WHO is warning that Gaza faces an increased risk of infectious diseases. Over 33,551 cases of diarrhoea have already been reported since mid-October, with children under five years of age making up the bulk of the cases. For reference, in 2021 and 2022, there was an average of 2,000 cases monthly in that age group.
With speakers from the Africa CDC, the WHO, Afrigen, Biovac, and other stakeholders in the mission to make in Africa, this webinar by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) touches upon the challenges and issues associated with scaling vaccine manufacturing on the continent.
Down under, the MedChem Australia initiative has officially launched in Melbourne. A first-of-its-kind collaboration between WEHI, Monash University, and the University of Sydney, this initiative has kicked off with about $15 million in total seed funding from the Medical Research Future Fund and other partners. With the aim of transforming homegrown medicine capabilities, the centre will accelerate promising early-stage drug discovery projects towards clinical trials and beyond.
To improve global readiness for future epidemic and pandemic threats, the Netherlands has announced an additional €14 million contribution to CEPI to advance global vaccine R&D and manufacturing.
At the World Local Production Forum meeting at the Hague, India and the Netherlands inked a Memorandum of Intent (MoI). They agreed to cooperate on medical product regulation and improving the quality of medical products and healthcare services for both countries.
India’s Biocon Biologics has entered a definitive ₹3,660 million agreement with Eris Lifesciences. Biocon is divesting its dermatology and nephrology branded formulations business units in the country. These units mostly comprised its legacy small molecules brands. The transaction will include the transfer of not only the product brands but also the employees associated with these units.
Bhutan has become the first country to vaccinate and sterilise 100% of its street dogs.
Novo Nordisk is discontinuing its long-acting insulin Levemir in the US. Citing manufacturing constraints, reduced patient access, and alternatives available on the market, the Danish pharma company said supply disruptions would start mid-January. In April, the Levemir injection pen will be discontinued. By the end of 2024, no more Levemir vials either. But Nordisk is still very much in the diabetes management game – its other long-acting insulin, Tresiba, remains on the market. And, of course, it has its GLP-1s.
Novo Nordisk may have a headstart in the global obesity treatment market, but Eli Lilly is catching up. Eli Lilly yesterday received US FDA approval for Tirzepatide, marketed as Zepbound, now the first and only obesity treatment to activate both GIP and GLP-1 hormone receptors. Zepbound is indicated for adults with a BMI of 30 or higher and those with a BMI of 27 or higher with related issues like hypertension, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, or cardiovascular disease. Lilly’s product will be priced slightly lower than its competitor’s.
Though still far behind Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly, AstraZeneca is also making the most of the booming GLP-1 market. The company has licensed a next-gen, early-stage oral candidate from China’s Eccogene for $185 million upfront.
The obesity drug market has been growing exponentially, led by products from Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly. Piggybacking on this growth, biotech startup OrsoBio, which develops drugs for obesity (though not GLP-1s), has raised a $60 million Series A round with backing from Eli Lilly’s venture arm, Longitude Capital, Enavate Sciences, Samsara BioCapital, and NuevaBio.
The UK’s Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA) has found that Daiichi Sankyo prejudiced patient safety by failing to reference a contraindication. In a release about its cholesterol-lowering drugs, the company stated the truth – but not the whole truth – about how the drugs can be combined. The UK body has concluded that the Japanese pharma company provided misleading information, failed to maintain high standards, and brought discredit upon the pharma industry.
The Rockefeller Foundation has announced the first round of funding from its $1 billion, five-year climate strategy. The Foundation is granting over $11 million to 25 grantees to advance various climate solutions in LMICs in Africa, Asia, LatAm, the Caribbean, and communities across the US. This also includes grants to tackle food and health security, curb coal, increase solar energy, grow climate finance, scale up regenerative agriculture, and more. You can find the full list of grants here.
In Croatia, Coca Cola HBC is temporarily withdrawing from sale batches of two soft drinks. This move comes as authorities are investigating cases of an illness, with symptoms including throat injuries, that is suspected to have been caused by the beverages.
A new UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report is highlighting the hypocrisy of governments worldwide. While pledging to cut fossil fuel production, government plans globally will lead to a doubling of production in 2030.
And finally, interesting mainly because we saw this coming over a year ago, Amazon is yet again cutting prices for its One Medical telehealth services for Prime members.