Industry Briefs February 2015

23andMe Collaborates with Pfizer


Leading personal genetics company, 23andMe, announced that it is now sharing its research platform with Pfizer. Pfizer gains access to 23andMe’s 800,000 patient genotype database, enabling them to study the 80% who participated in research. Pfizer hopes to use this information to make genetic associations that could further the knowledge in diseases such as lupus and inflammatory bowel disease. The collaboration will “accelerate the pace of development for potential new treatments,” according to Jose-Carlos Gutierrez-Ramos, Group Senior VP and Head of BioTherapeutics Research & Development at Pfizer, “while keeping patient information safe.” Anne Wojcicki, CEO and Co-founder of 23andMe, said in a statement, “I believe it is important to democratize personal genetics and make it more accessible.”

Shire Acquires NPS Pharmaceuticals

Shire has made an agreement to acquire NPS Pharmaceuticals for $5.2 billion, paying $46 for each NPS share. Recovering from the disastrous deal made with AbbVie last year, Shire’s CEO, Flemming Ornskov, MD, said in a statement, “It’s a strategic fit, growth enhancing and we can afford it.”

The drugmakers from Dublin will pay for NPS shares in cash during a time that the New York Times states they are enjoying the richest market valuation in over a decade. Still, Ornskov claims the acquisition price is a great value, saying, “It speaks to the company’s ability to generate cash and to execute on strategically relevant deals.”

WHO Announces Two Ebola Vaccines

On January 30th, WHO will launch studies for two late stage Ebola vaccines in Liberia, with more to start during February in Sierra Leone and Guinea. GlaxoSmithKline’s ChAd3 and Merck & Co. and NewLink Genetics’ VSV-ZEBOV will be tested on a group of 9,000 in Liberia, after a GSK statement that data shows the vaccine is safe in the West African population in varying dosages. The studies are expected to last six months and vaccines will be launched within the year if results are successful.

Liberate Ideas and Health Nuts Media Partner Up

Liberate Ideas, a corporation that delivers free patient care platforms, has joined forces with Health Nuts Media, a company that provides animated health information. Health Nuts content will now be available on the Liberate Health mobile app to help patients understand health conditions, such as asthma or diabetes. Chief Medical Officer of HNM, Dr. Gregg Alexander said in a statement that the partnership aims to “improve patient and caregiver understanding, satisfaction and, most importantly, health outcomes.”

Gilead’s Hepatitis C Drug Patent Fails in India

Indian generic drug maker, Natco Pharma Ltd., opposed the patent of hepatitis C drug Sovaldi, produced by U.S.-based Gilead Science Inc. Gilead slightly altered the chemical formulation of the generic drug, which the third party claimed was not incentive enough to be patented, winning their case on January 14th. Gilead’s Sovaldi would have been priced at $1,000 a pill as it is in the U.S., according to Reuters. The successful opposition sets a standard that future generic pharmaceutical companies will follow to make their drugs more affordable for the vast majority of people in India without health insurance who live on a budget of $2 a day. India’s law allows third parties to oppose validity of patents, making the generic drug manufacturing hub a frustrating market for foreign pharmaceutical companies.


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