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July 29, 2019

Pharma Technology Focus: Taming big pharma

In this issue: breakthroughs in HIV treatment, understanding drug-resistant TB, the fallout from Teva’s price fixing scandal, tackling unlicensed stem cell clinics, and much more.

By Eloise Mclennan

Pharma Technology Focus is now available on all devices. Read it for free here

Drug resistant tuberculosis causes one third of all antimicrobial resistance related deaths presenting an enormous challenge. We find out what can be done to tackle this growing threat. Plus, we take a look back at the decades-long quest to treat and prevent HIV.

Also in this issue, we track Teva’s fall from grace to find out what can be learned from the company’s price fixing scandal, examine the prevalence of clinics marketing unlicensed and potentially dangerous stem cell treatments, and speak to researchers from Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne to get the inside track on how our knowledge about the way cancer cells communicate is changing.

Finally, we review the potential and clinical success of Verona’s COPD treatment, ensifentrine, talk to PharmaFlow director Hedley Rees about modernising the industry, and find out about a ‘pay as you go’ database of AI programmes for drug discovery firms in the UK.

 

In this issue

Understanding drug-resistant TB
Drug-resistant tuberculosis causes one third of all antimicrobial resistance related deaths, presenting an enormous challenge. The threat is growing and has the potential to spiral out of control as drugs lose all effectiveness, so what can be done? Abi Millar reports.
Read the article here.

Through time: the breakthroughs that changed the course of HIV treatment
This has been a landmark year for HIV treatment; a seven-year study confirmed that taking ART can prevent transmission between gay couples and a second patient has been effectively cured of HIV after receiving a stem cell transplant as a cancer treatment. Allie Nawrat tracks progress in the decades-long quest to effectively prevent, treat and attempt to cure the disease
Read the article here.

Trouble at Teva: US price-fixing lawsuit adds to generic giant’s woes
Israeli generics giant Teva, among other firms, has been hit by a 44-state lawsuit alleging generic drug price-fixing and market manipulation. The suit is the latest in a string of legal and financial difficulties for the company – so what are the problems and can Teva solve them? Chris Lo reports.
Read the article here.

The dangers of unlicensed stem cell clinics
Clinics marketing unlicensed and potentially dangerous stem cell treatments to patients are prevalent in both the US and Canada, according to a series of studies by Dr Leigh Turner from the University of Minnesota’s Center for Bioethics. Allie Nawrat spoke to Turner to find out how these unlicensed clinics operate, the risks they pose to patients and the reputational damage they could inflict on legitimate stem cell research in the pharma sector.
Read the article here.

How do cancer cells communicate and can it help us catch them?
Researchers have uncovered that cancer cells communicate over much greater distances than previously expected, opening up more possibilities for detection. Abi Millar spoke to the researchers to get the inside track on how our knowledge about the way cancer cells communicate is changing
Read the article here.

Verona’s ensifentrine: a potentially revolutionary treatment for COPD
The current standard of care for COPD is at least one or two bronchodilators, sometimes supplemented by an anti-inflammatory inhaled corticosteroid, however, two-thirds of patients on the maximum triple therapy for the condition remain symptomatic. Verona Pharma is developing a possible solution primarily for these severe COPD patients called ensifentrine. Allie Nawrat finds out more.
Read the article here.

Taming the pharma monster with Hedley Rees
With the aim of re-aligning the industry away from patents and towards patients, Hedley Rees, veteran of the UK pharma sector and now managing consultant at PharmaFlow, spoke to Allie Nawrat about the best way to tame and reform the ‘monster.’
Read the article here.

‘Pay as you go’ AI for drug discovery
Since AI expertise remains limited in the pharma industry, particularly for SMEs without the ability to acquire specialist companies, Chief.ai and Medicines Discovery Catapult have been awarded £370,000 in funding from Innovate UK to support a ‘Pay As You Go’ style database. Allie Nawrat explores how this model can streamline drug discovery and repurposing.
Read the article here.

 

Next issue preview

In the next issue of Pharma Technology Focus, we explore the benefits of real world data, take a look at the life and achievements of renowned immunologist Dr. Teruko Ishizaka, and examine the rise of buyers clubs for cystic fibrosis patients seeking to bypass unsuccessful price negotiations in order to access treatments in the UK.

Also, we take a look at attitudes to pharmaceutical treatment for mental health conditions and explore the knock-on effects of overusing antibiotics in animals.

Plus, we find out how researchers are working to fill the vast gaps in knowledge that exist around the use of medication during pregnancy and breast feeding, speak to SIX head of securities and exchanges Thomas Zeeb to discuss the skills, regulations and protections that make Switzerland a good home for pharma firms, and investigate the cancer-killing power of halichondrin.

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