💊 World Bank funds primary healthcare in Bangladesh; J&J and Lupin slash TB drug prices; The Global Fund makes HIV treatment cheaper
#418 | Aspen’s bright future; Nigeria’s bleak local pharma production; Novo Nordisk’s burgeoning obesity portfolio
Hello there. Our Kable today is kicking off with more details about the CEPI x Oxford story we told you about on Tuesday. The day before yesterday, CEPI announced the first of a new category of Strategic Partnership with the University of Oxford. Compared to previous modes of collaboration, this one is more flexible, agile and greater in scale so that the partners can work on multiple projects without the need for additional grant applications, processes, and reviews. The goal with this particular partnership is to develop prototype vaccines against high-risk viral families which could be rapidly adapted when a new viral threat is identified. This is part of the 100 Days Mission to develop new vaccines within 100 days of a pandemic-potential virus emerging.
In Nigeria, it appears that lessons learned from Covid have already been forgotten. The country is still suffering from insufficient drug supply, even in the absence of any major outbreak. Some pharma executives believe that harsh monetary policies are adversely impacting local pharma production and medicine security. Other hurdles include poor power supply, poor utilisation of factory capacity, and financing constraints.
Yesterday, the World Bank approved $200 million to help Bangladesh improve primary healthcare services, especially to prevent and treat diseases like dengue, which is already at record levels this year, and for direct referrals to secondary and tertiary-level facilities. The funding is also meant for medical waste management in some urban municipalities, antenatal services, hypertension screening, environmental health and more.
Meanwhile, Novo Nordisk is fattening up its obesity portfolio with a startup that it helped found from a research centre at the University of Copenhagen. Nordisk is acquiring Embark Biotech, which is developing drugs for a novel appetite-suppressing, calorie-burning target. The Big Pharma is shelling out €15 million (~ $16.4 million) upfront, with another €456 million (~ $498 million) potentially due down the line as milestone payments. This is Novo Nordisk’s second acquisition this month.
3M has reached a $6 billion settlement in a class-action lawsuit. The lawsuit concerned defective earplugs sold to the US military, which led to thousands of service members suffering from hearing loss.
And finally, the US FDA has pulled up ByHeart Inc, Reckitt Benckiser Group's Mead Johnson Nutrition, and Perrigo's Wisconsin unit. The agency has issued all three of them warning letters for not establishing processes to prevent contamination during infant formula manufacturing.