Healthcare Roundup – Gilead and VIR Biotechnology tie up in chronic hepatitis B virus cure setting, AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine is set for Indian rollout

Published on: January 12, 2021
Author: Amy Liu

Gilead and VIR Biotechnology tie up in chronic hepatitis B virus cure setting

Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD) and Vir Biotechnology (NASDAQ:VIR) announces that the companies have entered into a clinical collaboration to evaluate novel therapeutic combination strategies aimed at developing a functional cure for chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV).

The companies plan to initiate a Phase 2 trial evaluating combination therapy for both treatment-experienced and treatment-naïve people living with HBV.

The multi-arm trial will evaluate different combinations of selgantolimod, Gilead’s investigational TLR-8 agonist, VIR-2218, Vir’s investigational small interfering ribonucleic acid (siRNA) and a commercially-sourced, marketed PD-1 antagonist.

The primary outcome of the study will be the proportion of patients achieving a functional cure, defined as an off-therapy loss of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and HBV DNA from the serum.

Both companies retain full rights to their individual product candidates and will discuss the potential path forward for any future combination studies based on the outcome of the Phase 2 trial.

AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine is set for Indian rollout

India is all set to initiate what could become the world’s largest vaccination drive, with airlines starting to deliver batches of COVID-19 vaccines nationwide on Tuesday and AstraZeneca’s (NASDAQ:AZN) vaccine pulling in all the eyeballs.

AstraZeneca’s AZD1222 shot, developed in partnership with the University of Oxford, is widely touted as one of the most convenient COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved for use so far. The vaccine is expected to be cheaper than the ones developed by Pfizer (PFE -2.0%) and Moderna (MRNA +4.2%).

AstraZeneca had previously said that it would not profit from its COVID-19 vaccine sales, and, drug maker’s manufacturing partner in India, Serum Institute of India, says it will charge only 200 rupees ($2.73) for the first 100 million doses.

United States had already started rolling out vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna in December.

Allergan Aesthetics enters option to acquire a medical device company

Allergan Aesthetics, an AbbVie company (NYSE:ABBV) enters into option to acquire Cypris Medical, a privately held, medical device company based in Chicago.

Following the completion of a clinical trial to be initiated in 2021, Allergan Aesthetics will have the right to exercise an option to acquire Cypris Medical, including the company’s Xact device.

“As a global leader in aesthetics, we are proud to support the research of an innovative device that complements our iconic portfolio of non-invasive treatment options like Botox Cosmetic and our Juvéderm Collection of Fillers. We know there is continued unmet need for minimally-invasive procedures for midface descent, and Xact affords us the ability to create a new alternative for our customers so they can continue to offer leading-edge treatments to patients.” says Carrie Strom, SVP AbbVie and President, Global Allergan Aesthetics.

Pfizer’s stock drops on weak full-year profit forecast

Shares of Pfizer drop (PFE -2.3%) to their lowest level in nearly three weeks after the drugmaker forecast full-year profit way short of analysts’ expectations.

Pfizer projected 2021 adjusted diluted earnings per share in a range of $3.00 – $3.10, well short of the average analysts’ estimate of $3.16, according to 15 analysts polled by Seeking Alpha.

The company’s stock price had seen a huge jump in early December as vaccine-related stimulus gave a boost to its shares.

Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, developed along with BioNTech, is already being rolled out across the US after it won emergency use authorisation from the FDA in December.

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