As the conflict in Ukraine intensifies following the Russian invasion, hundreds of clinical trials could be in jeopardy amid the chaos and destruction of war, with pharma giant Merck & Co. Inc. saying it is putting recruitment for dozens of studies on hold.
The indirect impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on the life sciences sector continues to grow, as the West responds with more and more sanctions against Russia. In one of the latest moves, the European Commission announced March 4 that it is suspending cooperation with Russian entities in research, science and innovation.
The world’s largest genomics study in patients with life-threatening COVID-19 infections has uncovered 16 new genetic variants associated with severe disease and drawn up a roadmap for research into new therapies and diagnostics. The research involved comparing the complete genome sequences of 7,491 patients admitted to 224 intensive care units in the U.K. against those of 48,400 participants in Genomics England’s 100,000 Genomes project, and of a further 1,630 people who had mild COVID-19. While some of the gene variants found in the Genomicc study affect the function of a protein, others influence the amount of the protein that is expressed. An example is mucin-1, where overexpression led to worse outcomes.
Amgen Inc.’s pioneering lung cancer drug, Lumykras (sotorasib), is set to become available to NHS patients in England, after cost-effectiveness body NICE recommended financing from the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) in final draft guidance.
LONDON – The U.K. Recovery trial has added a fourth drug to the list of therapies it has shown are effective in treating hospitalized COVID-19 patients, demonstrating the JAK inhibitor Olumiant (baricitinib) reduces the risk of death by 13% in seriously ill patients. That effect is in addition to treatment with dexamethasone, which became standard of care after the Recovery trial showed it reduced mortality by one-third in patients on ventilators.
LONDON – The European Commission (EC) has put forward proposals for a Data Act that is intended to both give users greater rights over their own data and allow greater third-party access. The Act sets out who can use and access data generated in the EU across all sectors of the economy. It is pitched by the EC as opening the doors to an under-used resource that will in turn promote research and innovation and create new markets in information services.
The EU initiated a dispute complaint with the World Trade Organization over China’s intellectual property (IP) enforcement allowing Chinese courts to block infringement litigation worldwide. The Feb. 18 complaint, posted by the WTO last week, takes issue with Chinese courts issuing global injunctions barring patent holders from asserting their rights through legal proceedings in other countries until the case is settled in China.
LONDON – Antibody-drug conjugate specialist Heidelberg Pharma AG has secured a route into Asia and a fresh injection of much-needed capital, in a licensing and equity deal with Huadong Medicine Co. Ltd. worth up to €930 million (US$1.1 billion).
Europe’s pharmaceutical industry has warned the conflict in Ukraine is disrupting supplies of medicines and clinical trials, while pledging free medicines to the humanitarian effort to those caught in or fleeing from the Russian invasion. A representative of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, which has an affiliate in Ukraine, told BioWorld that the disruption has left pharma industry staff in that country taking to emergency shelters.