Radius Health Acquires Rights to Cannabidiol Drug

The biopharma company acquired the global development and commercialization rights to Benuvia Therapeutics’ synthetic cannabidiol oral solution known as RAD011. Radius hopes to receive FDA clearance to initiate Phase 2 studies for patients with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) later this year. Radius acquired RAD011 for $12.5 million and will pay an additional $15 million if PWS development milestones are reached. According to Radius, the company may also pay sales-based milestone payments and a tiered, high single-digit royalty.

PWS is an orphan disease that causes symptoms of anxiety and hyperphagia, a genetic cause of life-threatening childhood obesity for which there is no FDA-approved therapy. Previous data shows that cannabidol biologically affects both these symptoms. “Benuvia is excited to partner with the leadership of Radius Health to progress the late-stage development and commercialization of our synthetic cannabidiol oral solution for the treatment of rare and underserved diseases. We look forward to supporting Radius through our U.S.-based contract manufacturing business, Benuvia Manufacturing, which has significant chemistry and formulation capabilities, including manufacturing our FDA-approved cannabinoid drug, Syndros,” said Todd C. Davis, executive chairman of Benuvia.

Stryker Strikes Deal with Knee Replacement Company

The med tech giant has acquired OrthoSensor, an award-winning company that applies digital tech and big data to improve joint replacement surgeries.

“Smart devices and implants will play a big role in orthopaedics and we are excited for OrthoSensor to join Stryker as we continue to innovate and advance smart sensor technologies, including intraoperative sensors, wearables, and smart implants across our joint replacement business,” stated Spencer Stiles, President of Stryker’s orthopedic and spine group. “Patient recovery will become more active as real-time measurement on key performance insights drive improved outcomes and patient satisfaction.”

Florida-based OrthoSensor is standardizing knee arthroplasty surgeries with disposable, implantable sensors and a cloud-based data collection system. The sensors provide real-time data on the load and compression forces placed on the joint during an operation so surgeons can make more informed decisions about the joint implant’s position rather than relying solely on their own judgement. Stryker hopes this data will improve and complement their robotic surgical units in future developments.

Fujifilm Builds Viral Vector Facility

Demand for viral vectors, the viruses used to deliver therapeutic genes to patients, has exploded along with gene therapy research. Japanese drugmaker Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies is readying to meet this demand by building a $40 million manufacturing facility for viral vectors in Watertown, Massachusetts. The company already has viral vector facilities in the UK and Texas.

While Fujifilm planted itself firmly in this market back in 2014 with its first facility in Texas, it’s not the only manufacturer meeting viral vector demand. Harvard University said it would invest $50 million in a not-for-profit manufacturing and training facility focused on cell and viral vectors, (Fujifilm sits on its Board), while Novartis, Pfizer, Catalent, and Thermo Fisher Scientific are ramping up gene therapy development support.

Fishawack Health Acquires The Hive Health Group

Jas Hummel, Global Chief Executive Officer, The Hive Health Group

Fishawack Health, a leading life sciences commercialization company, acquired London- and New York-based healthcare marketing and scientific communications agency, The Hive Health Group. The agency brings clients to Fishawack that include all top 20 pharma companies and other biotech organizations.

Jas Hummel, Global Chief Executive Officer of The Hive Health Group, said in a statement, “We are delighted to join Fishawack Health, a dynamic and growing business that offers our clients scale, expertise, and breadth of services in the healthcare sector. The Hive Health Group was acquired by Kin + Carta in 2014, who have more recently focused their commitment on the digital transformation space. The reality is that our healthcare clients need a much wider mix of capabilities and it had become clear to leadership in both organizations, that our offering and priorities were not aligned.”

Hive Health Group is comprised of two brands, Hive Health and Pollen Health, known across the life sciences industry for their strategic approach, scientific storytelling, and integrated patient engagement excellence.

Remedy Health Media Acquires Patient Power

Remedy Health Media acquired the cancer-patient centered platform, Patient Power, adding to the growing digital health platform. Remedy Health has built a family of brands that include HealthCentral, TheBody, PsyCom, and EndocrineWeb. The Patient Power patient network educates and empowers cancer patients with the vital information they need to make informed treatment and life decisions as well as connect to the cancer community.

Andrew and Esther Schorr founded Patient Power in 2005 and have built a powerful base of patients with innovative, cancer-specific programming that addresses the issues facing the community as a whole. “As a two-time cancer survivor, I personally know what a huge difference education and empowerment of patients and care partners can make,” said Andrew Schorr, Co-founder of Patient Power. “Esther and I are thrilled to now be part of Remedy Health Media where we will have expanded talent and resources to reach, support, and improve care for many more people affected by cancer.”

Illinois First State to Cover Undocumented Seniors

While COVID-19 wreaks havoc in the U.S., especially in underserved communities, Illinois became the first state to extend public health insurance to all low-income, noncitizen seniors, including undocumented immigrants. The decision was made in response to the alarmingly disproportionate COVID cases hitting the Latino community, seen especially in Chicago.

Hospitals are struggling to keep COVID patients alive who were already suffering from asthma, heart disease, or diabetes, which also affect low-income groups more than others. Many of these patients would have a better chance of survival if they had insurance that allowed them to treat these chronic conditions or get to the hospital before reaching critical condition.

“The fact that we’re going to do this during the pandemic really shows our commitment to expansion and broadening healthcare access. It’s an amazing first step in the door,” Graciela Guzmán, Campaign Director for Healthy Illinois, a group that advocates for universal coverage, said in a statement. Advocates hope this will inspire other states and be the first step towards covering undocumented children as well. The Illinois program currently covers undocumented individuals or those who have held a green card (been legal permanent residents) for less than five years and have an income lower than $12,670, the federal poverty level.

2021 Sees Usual January Drug Price Lift

Despite the ongoing pandemic and continued scrutiny from the Trump administration, pharma companies have raised hundreds of drug prices as they routinely do in January. As of January 3rd, GoodRx reports that nearly 589 drugs have increased in price by an average of 4.2%, a huge increase from January 2020 and 2019 which saw 463 and 293 drug price increases respectively.

Pfizer has raised the most prices of any company so far. Of the 130 price increases, the highest increase comes in at 5.14% for pneumococcal shot Prevnar 13, the global bestselling vaccine. Allergan, acquired by AbbVie, raised prices of 39 products by 5% while GlaxoSmithKline lifted prices for 31 medicines and vaccines, including an 8.59% increase for combination diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus vaccine Pediarix and a 7% increase for shingles shot Shingrix. The largest price hike to date is 14.58% on Venofer, Vifor’s iron sucrose injection for anemia.

The price hikes prove the limited effect of the Trump admin’s war on drug price inflation, coming shortly after Trump’s “most favored nation” bill, which limited drug prices for Medicare patients based on their overseas prices, was blocked by a federal judge.

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