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0222 pod

Product Development

Pipeline plays for BMS, Rigel; plus J&J’s vaccine panel & access for Africa: a BioCentury podcast

Feb 23, 2021 | 2:17 AM GMT

On the latest BioCentury This Week podcast, BioCentury editors analyze how BMS is managing its pipeline, spotlight Rigel’s deal with Lilly, look towards the Feb. 26 FDA advisory panel meeting to discuss J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine and discuss initiatives to improve Africans’ access to cancer drugs.

Senior Editor Lauren Martz and Editor in Chief Simone Fishburn discuss how Bristol Myers Squibb Co. (NYSE:BMY) is building out its early-stage pipeline to find its next big oncology drug and stave off revenue losses from upcoming patent cliffs by taking a broad look at cancer’s hottest targets and technologies.

Fishburn digs into the decision tree behind the deal Rigel Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ:RIGL) made with Eli Lilly and Co. (NYSE:LLY) for the biotech’s clinical RIPK1 program. It’s an “old school” deal, according to Fishburn, who says that Rigel entered the deal to fund its next program, for IRAK4, rather than, for example, partner with a pharma to gain strategic and operational help.

Washington Editor Steve Usdin explains why this week’s meeting of FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee to discuss the COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) will likely be “quite different” than the meetings for the two now-authorized COVID-19 mRNA vaccines from Moderna Inc. (NASDAQ:MRNA) and partners Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) and BioNTech SE (NASDAQ:BNTX). He argues that FDA needs to use the meeting to frame how the public and the medical community should think about J&J’s efficacy data.

“It had somewhat less efficacy than Moderna and Pfizer [and BioNTech]. I think that the more nuanced way to look at it is to say, yeah, but its ability to prevent serious disease and hospitalization is comparable to Pfizer and Moderna,” he said. “And also by the way, it was tested at a time when the variants were different.”

Sticking with FDA, Usdin explains why Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock rejected a request to erect a firewall between agency staff who interact with drug companies during the development process and officials who review marketing submissions.

Usdin also discusses an initiative by non-profit BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH) to apply the business acumen and scientific rigor biopharma executives employ in their companies to advancing cancer treatment in sub-Saharan Africa, where the lack of access to medicines and care for cancer condemns hundreds of thousands of Africans every year to deaths that could be avoided.

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IRAK4 - Interleukin-1 receptor-associated kinase 4
RIPK1 (RIP1) - Receptor-interacting serine-threonine kinase 1

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