In this week’s Innovation Partners BioBlog, we look at the top stories from the world of healthcare. Eli Lilly reassured its customers that its drug supply, especially its stock of insulin, remains safe and unaffected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case brought by 18 states against the legality of the ACA, but it won’t hear the case until the fall. New research shows that precision medicine works well against pancreatic tumors in pancreatic cancer patients. This and more in this week’s BioBlog.

Innovation Partners Curated BioBlog March 8 2020

Supreme Court’s decision to hear ACA case won’t fully erase market uncertainty, experts say

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) brought to the court by a group of 18 states. However, experts say that even though the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case, the action still won’t ease market uncertainty. Health insurance industry groups were happy to hear that the court would hear the case, but it won’t touch it until the fall, and in the meantime, uncertainty over the fate of the act remains.

FiercePharmaPolitics—Republican senator backs Medicare price negotiations, importation

Although many Democrats back Medicare price negotiations, Republicans continue to push back, citing the dangers of price controls. Senator Martha McSally, a Republican, has unveiled an alternative bill that while less ambitious than the Democrat-backed bill nevertheless also calls for Medicare pricing. McSally’s bill deals only with off-patent medications that have lost protection but are still held solely by one company. McSally’s bill also supports importing drugs.

Sanofi : FDA approves Sarclisa® (isatuximab-irfc) for patients with relapsed refractory multiple myeloma

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Sarclisa® (isatuximab-irfc) in combination with pomalidomide and dexamethasone (pom-dex) for the treatment of adults with relapsed refractory multiple myeloma (RRMM) who have received at least two prior therapies including lenalidomide and a proteasome inhibitor. Sarclisa is expected to be available to patients in the U.S. shortly. Sarclisa is a monoclonal antibody that binds to the CD38 receptor on multiple myeloma cells.In the ICARIA-MM study, Sarclisa added to pom-dex (Sarclisa combination therapy) demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in progression free survival (PFS) with a median PFS of 11.53 months compared to 6.47 months with pom-dex alone (HR 0.596, 95% CI: 0.44-0.81, p=0.0010). Sarclisa combination therapy also demonstrated a significantly greater overall response rate compared to pom-dex alone (60.4% vs. 35.3%, p<0.0001). READ MORE

Sema4 and VieCure Announce Strategic Collaboration to Accelerate Precision Oncology Care

Sema4, a patient-centered health intelligence company, and VieCure, an artificial intelligence (AI) informatics company, announced a strategic collaboration designed to help oncologists deliver personalized care and treatment to their patients. Through this alliance, Sema4 data scientists will be able to securely access patient data, which patients have consented to provide, from the VCurePrecision™ EMR platform and analyze them with Sema4’s Centrellis™ health intelligence platform. This development will help make improvements in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of cancer through data-driven insights and predictive modeling. It will also give oncologists using the VCurePrecision™ EMR greater access to real-time insights that support point-of-care decision-making and clinical trial identification for their patients.

Eli Lilly says its drug supply, including insulins, is safe from COVID-19 for now

Eli Lilly stated today that it believes its drug supply is safe from COVID-19 for now. While other companies are feeling the pressure from disrupted supply chains worldwide, Lily does not receive any ingredients for its pharmaceuticals from China. The drugmaker confirms that its supplies are ‘fully operational’ with insulin manufacturing sites in Europe and the United States untouched by COVID-19.

NCCN and AstraZeneca Announce Projects to Explore Quality Improvements in Lung Cancer

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network Oncology Research Programtoday announced three research projects selected to receive funding to improve healthcare provider performance and/or healthcare quality, focusing on enhancing patient care and outcomes for people with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The designated projects will be funded through a collaboration with AstraZeneca, a global, science-led biopharmaceutical company. The projects include: 1. Developing a PREcision meDICine Thoracic (PREDICT) Service in a Large Practice Network: Focus on Implementation, Physician and Patient Impact 2. Randomized Trial of a Supportive Care Mobile Application (App) to Improve Symptoms, Coping, and Quality of Life in Patients with Advanced Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) and 3. System-wide Integration of Plasma-based Next Generation Sequencing into Clinical Pathways for Detection of NCCN Recommended Biomarkers to Improve the Management of Patients with Metastatic Non-squamous NSCLC.

PanCAN’s Know Your Tumor Can Help Pancreatic Cancer Patients Live Longer

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s “Know Your Tumor” was created to help patients understand the unique differences in their tumors and to explore the impact this can make on treatment options. Precision medicine, which uses the genetic makeup of each patient’s tumor to guide treatment, helps patients live longer. A study published in Lancet showed that pancreatic cancer patients who are able to go on therapies that match their tumor biology live an average of one year longer compared to patients who don’t.