GeneOnline’s Weekly News Highlights: Aug 7-11

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GeneOnline’s editorial team has compiled a digest of top international biotechnology and healthcare news of the week to help readers keep abreast of global biomedical industry updates.

Novo Nordisk Delivers Strong H1 Financial Performance, With Acquisition to Expand Weight Loss Market

On August 10, Novo Nordisk released its financial report for the first half of 2023, reporting a 32% increase in operating profit to 48.9 billion Danish kroner (about US$7.2 billion) compared to the same period last year, with impressive sales growth in key product areas such as diabetes drugs and obesity care. The Danish pharmaceutical giant, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, also issued a press release on the same day, announcing that it had reached an agreement with Inversago Pharma for the acquisition of the Canadian obesity drug maker. With upfront and milestone payments of up to US$1.075 billion, the deal is expected to close before the end of the year.

Prices for Top 25 Medicare Part D Drugs Have More Than Tripled Since Entering the Market

According to a report published by the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) Public Policy Institute on August 10, list prices for 25 top Medicare Part D drugs have increased by an average of 226% (or more than tripled) since they first entered the market, greatly exceeding the corresponding rate of general inflation. Those who enroll in Medicare Part D, who take an average of four or five prescription medications a month, may be particularly affected by this pricing behavior since drug prices are directly related to their cost-sharing. It is estimated that one in five older adults engage in cost-coping strategies in order to reduce their drug costs, such as skipping doses or not filling a prescription.

Bavarian Nordic Closes on Valneva in Chikungunya Vaccine Race

Bavarian Nordic presented positive data for their Phase 3 clinical trial for their Chikungunya vaccine candidate in patients ages 12 to 64. This follows the release of positive data on June 20 for their other phase 3 trial in patients 65 or older. Bavarian Nordic is preparing for regulatory submission in 2024 for their vaccine candidate. With this positive data from both of their trials, Bavarian Nordic is catching up with Valneva in the race to release the first chikungunya vaccine. 

Vistagen’s Positive Phase 3 Results for Social Anxiety Treatment

On August 7, Vistagen announced positive outcomes for the Phase 3 trial of their nasal spray, Fasedienol, for adults with social anxiety disorder (SAD). The phase 3 PALISADE-2 trial met its endpoints, and its results indicate that it has the potential to reduce anxiety. Faseldienol offers an alternative with a quicker onset of effects and a safer profile when compared to conventional treatments for SAD. It works by regulating the neural circuits of fear and anxiety. Ultimately, this nasal spray has the capacity to emerge as a treatment option for individuals with social anxiety. 

ADARx Pharmaceuticals Successfully Concludes Series C Funding 

On August 9, the clinical-stage biotechnology company ADARx Pharmaceuticals announced the completion of its Series C financing. The company secured $200 million in funding, which they intend to use to advance their clinical programs and their pipeline. These consist mainly of two clinical programs, one for the treatment of hereditary angioedema and the other for multiple complement-mediated diseases. ADARx’s pipeline is focused on mRNA therapeutics that target diseases that include cardiovascular, genetic, and complement-mediated areas. This financing positions ADARx to accelerate its research and development efforts significantly.

ZURZUVAE™: A Ray of Hope for Women with Postpartum Depression

In a groundbreaking development, Biogen Inc. and Sage Therapeutics, Inc. have received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for ZURZUVAE™ (zuranolone) 50 mg, marking a historic moment in the battle against postpartum depression (PPD). This remarkable milestone brings forth a glimmer of hope for the countless women who grapple with the often underestimated and undertreated condition. 

Charting the Future of Healthcare: Unveiling the Healthcare Industry Transformation Map 2025

The Ministry of Health (MOH) proudly introduces the Healthcare Industry Transformation Map (ITM) 2025, a forward-looking blueprint unveiled on July 26th, 2023. This visionary roadmap ushers in a new era of healthcare, replete with innovative strategies and a workforce poised to navigate the challenges of tomorrow. At its core, the map champions dynamic public-private-people partnerships that will lay the foundation for realizing the audacious goals set forth within this transformative vision.

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