Not a fish story

Amarin—a clinical stage biopharma—was said to be in hot waters when a recent, large study showed omega-3 supplements have no heart health benefits. That’s because Amarin’s Vascepa is derived from fish oil, a common source of omega-3, which led critics to liken it to snake oil. But the company didn’t think anything was fishy with their product and so it waited until the results of its REDUCE-IT study came in. The results were announced Monday and, sure enough, Vascepa lowers the risk of adverse cardiovascular events by 25%. However, it may have increased the risk of cardiovascular events in Amarin’s investors, seeing as the company’s stock has been skyrocketing—shares increased by 300% on Monday alone.

Secrets that don’t stay secret

Sometimes you want to get a head start when starting a new company. And sometimes you get caught by the feds for stealing trade secrets. Former GSK scientist Yu Xue pleaded guilty to conspiring to do just that when starting her own biopharmaceutical company in China while still employed by the pharma giant. Prosecutors say Xue transferred documents related to products under development, research data, as well as GSK’s R&D and manufacturing processes to her colleagues in China. Xue, on top of serving up to 10 years in prison, could also be forced to pay restitution to GSK. The court graciously capped that at a reasonable number for a single person to pay, just $2B. Fun fact: that’s larger than the GDP of 26 nations according to the World Bank.

Have your cake and eat it too

PM Theresa May wants the UK to remain in the European Medicines Agency post-Brexit. She’s essentially arguing that allowing the UK to contribute will be beneficial due to the nation’s prestigious universities and its regulatory body which assesses more medicines than any EU member. Staying in would mean UK patients get faster access to newly approved EMA medicines. But being part of the agency would mean following its rules, paying dues, and possibly being subject to its legal authority via the European Court of Justice instead of national UK courts. That’s a big no-no for May and pro-Brexit factions in the UK, so they’re trying to avoid that part of the deal. British biopharma is behind May’s stance—they still want some cake from this Great British Break Off.

Adding CAR-T to the shopping cart

How about some exciting, multi-billion dollar deals to spice up the first quarter? First, Sanofi acquired Bioverativ, a hemophilia-focused biopharmaceutical company that spun out of Biogen last February. Since losing patent protection, Sanofi has seen flagging revenue from their flagship Lantus products—which occupy the #4 and #15 spots on IQVIA’s list of Top Medicines by Invoice Spending—and they’re hoping Bioverativ can give their treatment portfolio a boost. Similarly, Celgene boosted their pipeline prospects by acquiring Juno Therapeutics, who have a promising CAR-T candidate expected to be FDA-approved in 2019. Celgene also recently bought Impact Biomedicines, all part of a strategy to preemptively address profit losses when their blood cancer drug Revlimid goes off-patent in a few years.

4. On the verge of something big

A universal vaccine for cancer may actually be in sight. Can we all just take a minute to process this please? YAASS.  An illness that wreaks havoc on countless lives could soon be a thing of history textbooks, due to genius efforts of a group of international researchers. The scientists have created a vaccine that essentially causes the immune system to recognize the tumor as a virus and attack it—a practice called cancer immunotherapy. The vaccine greatly reduced size of aggressive tumors in mice, and showed promising results in advanced stage patients—either reducing or halting tumor growth, and likely preventing relapse after tumor removal. The cherries atop this potential medical triumph are the relatively benign side effects and inexpensive vaccine production costs.

2. Rocket Fuel Shortage in Cancer Moonshot

With so many Americans terrified of shots, the National Cancer Moonshot initiative may have trouble getting off the ground. A new study reveals only 40% of Americans hold a positive view of clinical trials, and just 4% of cancer patients enroll in a clinical trial annually. Yet, “when it comes to advancing cancer care, clinical research is the rocket fuel for better treatments, more accurate diagnoses and, ultimately, cures,” Dr. Jose Baselga, physician-in-chief and chief medical officer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute said. Concerns about side-effects, safety and out-of-pocket costs combined with the fear of receiving a placebo instead of an active treatment mean the cancer community needs to do some myth busting about clinical trials before advancing towards a cure.