Healthcare Roundup – AstraZeneca skids another 2% as confusion remains over vaccine, Adial Pharmaceuticals inks stock purchase agreement with Keystone Capital

Published on: November 26, 2020
Author: Amy Liu

AstraZeneca skids another 2% as confusion remains over vaccine

AstraZeneca (AZN -2%) extends its decline that followed Monday’s data from its COVID-19 vaccine trial as analysts continued to question the confusing results.

Oxford and AstraZeneca said clinical trials showed their vaccine was 90% effective in people who received a half-dose followed by a full-dose booster, but the regime was administered to participants in a group that did not include anyone over age 55, Operation Warp Speed’s Moncef Slaoui said yesterday.

“I don’t believe that the FDA will look positively at any trial where the dose, or the age cohorts, or any other variable were changed mid-trial, inadvertently or deliberately,” says SVB Leerink analyst Geoffrey Porges, who predicts the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will not clear the vaccine.

There was no age breakdown given for the two groups from AstraZeneca when the company reported its results on Monday; Slaoui says the initial half-dose was used in some people because of an error in the quantity of vaccine put into some vials.

“Approval based on current data means people [would] be inoculated with a vaccine the true efficacy of which is unknown,” says Bloomberg Intelligence senior analyst Sam Fazeli, who believes another trial is needed to assess the Astra vaccine’s efficacy and that the current data also raises concerns on Johnson & Johnson’s (JNJ -0.2%) U.S. trial.

AZN shares trade ~3% below last Friday’s close, before the Astra-Oxford vaccine results were divulged.

Adial Pharmaceuticals inks stock purchase agreement with Keystone Capital

Adial Pharmaceuticals (ADIL) entered into a common stock purchase agreement with New-York based Keystone Capital Partners, family office with investments in biotech, real estate and consumer products.

Post the agreement, the company will have the right to sell to Keystone Capital up to $15M of its common stock from time-to-time during Purchase Agreement term.

“We have no immediate plans to raise capital, with $7M+ of cash on hand as of Sep. 30, 2020; however, this transaction provides additional flexibility and capability to take advantage of strategic opportunities and future growth initiatives when they may arise,” CEO William Stilley commented.

BioNTech and InstaDeep team up to develop novel immunotherapies

BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX) and InstaDeep Ltd have announced a multi-year strategic collaboration aimed at applying the latest advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technology to develop novel immunotherapies for a range of cancers and infectious diseases.

As part of the collaboration, BioNTech and InstaDeep will form a joint AI Innovation Lab in London, UK, and Mainz, Germany, to advance a portfolio of initiatives across drug discovery and design, protein engineering, manufacturing and supply chain optimization.

One of the key research areas of the BioNTech-InstaDeep joint Innovation Lab will be the development of next generation vaccines and biopharmaceuticals for the treatment of cancer and prevention and therapy of infectious diseases, including COVID-19.

The collaboration builds on the existing relationship between InstaDeep and BioNTech which was initiated in 2019.

Purdue Pharma pleads guilty to criminal opioid crisis charges

Purdue Pharma has formally admitted its role in an opioid epidemic that has contributed to hundreds of thousands of deaths over the past two decades.

The OxyContin maker pleaded guilty to three federal criminal charges – conspiring to defraud U.S. officials and paying illegal kickbacks to doctors and a healthcare records vendor – all to help keep prescriptions flowing.

While the plea deal carries more than $8.3B in penalties and forfeitures, most of those will go unpaid, with Purdue only on the hook for $225M. The DOJ will forego the rest if the bankrupt company completes a reorganization dissolving itself and shifting assets to a “public benefit company” that steers $1.78B to combat the opioid crisis.

Members of the wealthy Sackler family who own the company have also agreed to pay $225M to settle civil claims. No criminal charges have been filed against family members, but it remains a possibility in the future.

Other players in the crisis include Teva Pharmaceutical (NYSE:TEVA), AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), McKesson (NYSE:MCK), Cardinal Health (NYSE:CAH) and AmerisourceBergen (NYSE:ABC).

Aurora Cannabis inks supply deal for bulk dried flower with Cantek, shares down 6%

Aurora Cannabis (NYSE:ACB) has entered into a strategic Supply Agreement with Cantek Holdings, one of Israel’s leaders in the medical cannabis field.

Under the terms of the Agreement, Aurora will supply Cantek with dried bulk flower over a two-year period, with the option to extend.

The Company intends to provide Cantek with a minimum of 4,000 kgs of bulk dried flower annually, which will be processed into finished product, and co-branded under Aurora and Cantek brands for Israeli market with the potential for additional international market sales.

The initial shipment of cannabis under the Agreement occurred during the week of November 16, 2020.

Pot stocks rally faded with shares of ACB -6%, (NASDAQ:CRON) -2%, (NYSE:CGC) -2%, (NASDAQ:TLRY) -4% and (NYSE:HEXO) -4% in premarket, which was spurred by start of the formal White House transition process to Biden.

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