New Money Flows into Oncology Sector and More in this Week’s BioBlog
Oncology treatment and outcomes are front and center this week in the Innovation Partners BioBlog. KSQ Therapeutics is better on CRISPR technology to improve drug development, while Cullinan Oncology takes a funding-based approach to drug development. Other news this week includes the unveiling of a new FDA reporting dashboard, ASCO Advocacy Summit and report from Express Scripts on the rising cost of specialty drugs, and more.
Startup KSQ Therapeutics is hoping that the new CRISPR-Cas9 technology will enable them to developer faster, better, and smarter drug therapies. CRISPR enables researchers to enter cell DNA with precision and alter it permanently. KSQ is testing the technology in the development of oncology drugs.
Nearly 100 volunteers arrived on Capitol Hill for the second annual ASCO Advocacy Summit, held September 27, 28, 2017. The group advocated for Congress to enact policies that would help with research and treatment access for approximately 15.5 million people in the United States living with a history of cancer.
Cullinan Oncology has raised $150 million through an innovative, financial-based approached to building a cancer drug portfolio. The company is launching a Series-A investment, co-founded with F2 Ventures and the UBS Oncology Impact Fund. The goal is to end drug programs quickly if they do not work, and to spread investments among several promising treatments. Investors want to support drug companies, but investing in one company or drug is a risky venture. The new fund-based approach spreads risk as well as investment potential among several drugs under development.
Express Scripts, one of the largest mail-order pharmacy managers in the United States, published an array of figures on the state of pharmaceutical use in the nation. Among their findings: three out of 10 Americans spend $50,000 or more per year on medications; the number of people who meet the threshold for high pharmaceutical spending has risen sharply; and drugs for cancer, multiple sclerosis, and rare diseases are the primary spending drivers for the $50,000 spent per year category.
Statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., on the FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS) and new search tool
The FDA launched a new dashboard for the reporting of adverse drug reactions. The agency hopes that the new dashboard will make reporting easier.
The first Project BioShield funding was announced this week, adding three drugs to the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS). A single-dose vaccine licensed by Merck, a prime-boost vaccine regimen from Johnson & Johnson, and monoclonal antibody treatments from Mapp Biopharmaceutical and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals to treat Ebola was added to the stockpile. Project BioShield buys up to 1.13 vaccine regimens and an unspecified number of treatment courses of the drugs.
Mayvert, a new hepatitis-C treatment that cures the diseases in as little as two months in patient who have not been previously treated, was recently approved by the FDA. Other approved drugs require 12 weeks of treatment and are not effective against all types of hepatitis-C. Mayvert’s lower price tag may also make it available through Medicaid.
States are scrambling to find ways to cover more than 9 million children left without health coverage after Congress failed to meet the deadline to renew funding over the weekend. Despite bipartisan agreement to continue the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Congress missed the September 30th deadline for a vote. States may start to run low on funds as early as December unless Congress acts to reauthorize the program.