British pharmaceutical giant GSK had a pretty crazy news day on Monday, announcing two massive deals. First, the money going out: GSK will acquire the oncology biopharma company Tesaro for $5.1B. This deal adds Tesaro’s Zejula to the GSK portfolio, which will give it a foothold to fight AstraZeneca, Merck and Clovis Oncology in the PARP inhibitor market. That probably gives Clovis a big ol’ target on its back saying “Acquire me!” GSK should have enough cash to cover the deal after its other big Monday announcement where the company announced it will be divesting its healthcare nutrition business to Unilever for a cool $4B. GSK and its nutrition products had a good run, but sounds like someone didn’t drink their Horlicks and their relationship got tired.
We’ve gotta hand it to GSK for taking the high road on physician payments for as long as they did. In 2013, after paying billions in fines to the Chinese and US governments in payments scandals, GSK figured it would be a good PR move to enforce a blanket ban on any payments to HCPs. But you know how the saying goes, nice guys finish last. Other major drugmakers didn’t follow GSK’s lead, leaving the company at a competitive disadvantage. So they’re getting rid of the blanket ban and making it more like a Snuggie ban—you know, with some holes to let them move around more easily. The company will resume payments in some restricted situations, like global experts speaking about their products, but well-below 2013 payment levels.
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.
Home genetics testing leader 23andMe and GSK have teamed up in the drug development business. The two companies have formed an agreement that—in exchange for a $300m investment in 23andMe—affords GSK exclusive rights to develop drugs from the data collected from those who spit into a 23andMe cup. So, here’s the chain of events: you pay money to learn your genetic ancestry or more money to learn your ancestry and some health risks. 23andMe and GSK get your data. 23andMe and GSK develop and commercialize a drug and go all Scrooge McDuck on us. Nice gig if you can get it. To be fair, the consumer has the right to opt out. According to NBC News, Parkinson’s Disease is their first target, so despite this writer casting a little side-eye at the model, it’s still hard to root against them.
We’ve done a full 360 on Zika. In early 2016, the WHO declared Zika to be a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern.” Less than two years later we’re just injecting it into brains willy-nilly to see what it does. To be fair, it does seem to kill glioblastomas pretty effectively, so we’ll give mad scientists a pass this time. Still, the Zika crisis did seem to peter out quickly in the Americas, at least quicker than US government investors expected. Without any real epidemic threat from the virus forthcoming, funding for the government and Sanofi’s vaccine development partnership has dried up. There are still two vaccine candidates from GSK and Takeda in development, but the decision has been criticized as short-sighted.
Wouldn’t it be great to know who’s got the flu and who doesn’t? Well now there’s an app for that. GSK and MIT Connection Science have partnered to create a crowd sourcing app called Flumoji. The data from the app tracks someone’s social interactions and attempts to match that with when they get the flu. Users can also identify within the app how they’re feeling using Emojis to denote their state of health. Better predictive analysis of health crises is critical and apps like Flumoji might help. Please tell me this will work on a Jitterbug.
GlaxoSmithKline PLC’s ViiV Healthcare announced positive Phase III trial results for its new HIV two-drug regimen, which uses GSK’s dolutegravir and Johnson & Johnson’s rilpivirine. The company wants to change the way the patients have been treated for the past several decades by reducing the number of antiretroviral medications used to control the virus. Now the company has evidence to support this two-drug combo is as effective at suppressing the virus as three- and four-drug combinations. Decreasing the number of medications is a positive too because it lowers the potential for side effects, improves patient compliance and could eventually decrease the cost of care…but not yet, because both drugs for the dual regimen are still under patent protection.
Mosquitoes are one of the few creatures in this world where we must ask “Was there a point to this?” While InsightCity can’t explain this insanely wrong turn in evolution, GSK, PATH, and the GAVI Vaccine Alliance are teaming up to combat the blood-sucking treachery. GSK and PATH recently committed to donate the first malaria vaccine candidate -RTS,S- towards a large-scale WHO pilot implementation program in sub-Saharan Africa, researching real-world impact of the game-changing medication. Gavi has announced a $27.5 million donation towards the operation. Sub-Saharan Africa is hit especially hard by the mosquito-transmitted illness resulting in thousands of deaths annually- especially in younger populations. If full funding can be secured by WHO, the program will begin in early 2018. Here are 33 mosquito facts. Because…why not?