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Politics, Policy & Law

COVID accountability, Biden’s bidding & start-up season: a BioCentury podcast

Jan 12, 2021 | 2:29 AM GMT

Deals and venture rounds are being unveiled in droves as the J.P. Morgan conference began Monday, but last week’s events in the U.S. capital and the ongoing pandemic have expanded the list of issues to discuss on the latest edition of BioCentury This Week podcast. Two of BioCentury’s editors offer thoughts from their commentaries published on Monday on those topics. The BioCentury team also looks at what to expect from the Biden administration on drug pricing and its COVID response, as well as the state of play for early-stage biotechs and a few top headlines from the first day of JPM.

Arguing that no country has been as disastrously incompetent in its COVID response as the U.S., Washington Editor Steve Usdin, in an Editor’s Commentary, calls on Congress and the Biden administration to launch an independent public inquiry into the failures that allowed the coronavirus to cause “so much unnecessary death and devastation.”  

The commission’s remit, he says, must include detailed steps that Congress, the Biden team, life sciences companies, academic researchers and others can take to better protect the nation and the world from pandemic threats.

In a separate Editor’s Commentary, Simone Fishburn says the events of Jan. 6 bring a special responsibility to scientists, notably biomedical scientists and the biopharma industry, whose bedrock is adherence to evidence-based facts in the name of saving lives. The Editor in Chief of BioCentury calls on industry to use its newly enhanced reputation to act as standard-bearers for the truth.

“Once you have facts, we can have differences on how you act on them, what policies you create and that’s where political differences should lie,” Fishburn says.

She also shares some highlights from her recent conversation with bioethicist Arthur Caplan. Citing the example of Israel’s response to the crisis, Fishburn discusses Caplan’s take on the importance of having an integrated healthcare system and the value of coupling that with a coordinated government strategy.

Usdin previews the policies he expects the Biden administration to adopt in its early days, and why he thinks it could improve the U.S. response to the pandemic while cautioning that positive change will take time. He also discusses what he thinks is in store as the new administration looks to tackle drug pricing, specifically the Trump administration’s “most favored nation” drug pricing index.

Associate Editor Virginia Li discusses the financing environment for biotech start-ups, highlighting a trio of profiles by the BioCentury team: oncolytic virus start-up IconOVir Bio Inc., Siddhartha Mukherjee’s Myeloid Therapeutics Inc. and pulmonary disease company Endeavor BioMedicines

And Executive Editor Jeff Cranmer touches on a few headlines from the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, including the $1.1 billion acquisition of Kymab Group Ltd. by Sanofi (Euronext:SAN; NASDAQ:SNY), positive data in Alzheimer’s disease from Eli Lilly and Co. (NYSE:LLY), and the breakup of bluebird bio Inc. (NASDAQ:BLUE).

Coming Thursday, BioCentury This Week will feature BioCentury editors Lauren Martz and Stephen Hansen discusses the key takeaways from BioCentury’s annual Buysiders’ View, published on Jan. 8, and 2021 Financial Markets Preview, which will be released this Friday.

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