Pharma News for June 29, 2020

SARS-CoV-2, a mutation of COV-19, has been tracked in China since January. Currently the mutation does not appear to make the virus any more deadly than it already is, but it does appear to make it significantly more contagious. (Biospace)

Nearly 200 companies have stopped or delayed their trials over the pandemic, and life science analytics firm GlobalData has dug into the data and found the main culprit has been suspended enrollment. Looking at the numbers of the causes stopping these tests, it found 67.3% of clinical trials disrupted by COVID-19 are due to patients not being allowed into studies, while the delayed start of planned trials follows at 18.4%; finally, 14.4% of trials are currently being impacted due to slow enrollment. The majority of the delayed studies are non-covid related and are in Phase 2 (the middle of the trial) and this has many scientists worried that the longer the delays go on, the more likely it is that the impacted studies will be terminated. (Fiercebiotech)

The number of confirmed U.S. deaths due to the coronavirus is substantially lower than the true tally, according to a study published Wednesday in JAMA Internal Medicine. Researchers found that the excess number of deaths over normal levels also exceeded those attributed to Covid-19, leading them to conclude that many of those fatalities were likely caused by the coronavirus but not confirmed. State reporting discrepancies and a sharp increase in U.S. deaths amid a pandemic suggest the number of Covid-19 fatalities is undercounted, they said. (CNBC)

Novartis agreed to pay $678 million to settle a U.S. government lawsuit alleging the Swiss drugmaker used expensive dinners and extravagant events to encourage thousands of doctors to prescribe its medicines. Sometime there was no event; just a speaking fee, or honoraria, from Novartis to a doctor for a medical presentation that was never given. Between 2002 and 2011, Novartis sales representatives hosted tens of thousands of speaker programs and “roundtables,” purportedly to share medical information about the company’s products. But at many of these events, often held at fancy restaurants like Eleven Madison Park in New York City and Charlie Palmer Steak in Washington, D.C., the focus was on entertaining high-prescribing physicians rather than on clinical practice. (Biopharmadive)

The drugmaker behind the experimental COVID-19 treatment remdesivir has announced how much it will charge for the drug, after months of speculation as the company tried to figure out how to balance profit and public health needs in the middle of a pandemic. Gilead Sciences has priced remdesivir at $3,120 for a course of treatment which breaks down to $390 per vial. Gilead has been accused of taking advantage of the pandemic by various advocacy groups and members of Congress in regard to the price of remdesivir. However, there are people who are defending Gilead, saying that the price is fair considering the amount of effort it has taken to get the drug to this stage in this short amount of time. (NPR)