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Berlin acts to stop US poaching German coronavirus vaccine company

Concern that Washington may seek monopoly on any breakthrough in fight against disease

 
Berlin acts to stop US poaching German coronavirus vaccine company
There are fears in Berlin that countries could take an 'every man for himself' approach to combating coronavirus © Adrienne Surpreant/Bloomberg

Berlin is seeking to stop a German company trying to come up with a vaccine against coronavirus from moving its research to the US, amid fears Washington may seek a monopoly on any breakthrough in the fight against the disease. A German government source said that ministers were looking at ways to keep the company in question, biopharma group CureVac, in Germany. On Sunday the German newspaper Die Welt am Sonntag reported that Donald Trump was trying to lure CureVac to the US with generous offers of money. Welt quoted unnamed German officials as saying the president was doing everything in his power to acquire a vaccine for the US — “but only for the US”. The report has reinforced fears in Berlin that countries could take an “every man for himself” approach to fighting coronavirus, rather than pooling resources and sharing potential scientific breakthroughs that would help to stop the disease. A German government spokesman declined to comment on the Welt story. But the health ministry issued a statement saying the government had “a great interest in ensuring that vaccines and compounds against the new type coronavirus are also developed in Germany and in Europe”. “With this in mind, the government is in an intensive exchange with the firm CureVac,” the ministry added. German officials have pointed to Berlin’s law on foreign trade, under which the government can scrutinise bids from non-EU countries “if national or European security interests are at stake”. A US official said the Welt story was “wildly overplayed”. He said the US government had spoken with more than 25 companies that claim they can help with a vaccine, and most of them had already received seed funding from US investors.

“We will continue to talk to any company that claims to be able to help,” he said. “And any solution found would be shared with the world.” This month, CureVac reported on its website that its chief executive Daniel Menichella had been invited to the White House to discuss “strategies and opportunities for the rapid development and production of a coronavirus vaccine” with Mr Trump and members of his coronavirus task force. In the press release, Mr Menichella was quoted as saying that the company was “very confident that we will be able to develop a potent vaccine candidate within a few months”. It said it hoped to start clinical trials early this summer. A few days after the meeting, Mr Menichella left the company, which is based in the south-western town of Tübingen. He was replaced as chief by Ingmar Hoerr, CureVac’s founder.

The Welt report kicked up a political storm in Germany. “The exclusive sale of a potential vaccine to the US must be prevented using all available means,” said Karl Lauterbach, health policy spokesman for the Social Democrats, the junior partner in Angela Merkel’s grand coalition government. “Capitalism has limits,” he tweeted. “We can’t continue to be reliant on medicine from China and the US. Our policy on research needs to change.” “It’s an ethical, not an economic or national issue,” said Bärbel Bas, deputy head of the SPD’s parliamentary group. “If there’s a vaccine, it must be available for everyone. Anything else would be a scandal. “In a pandemic, it’s about everyone, not ‘America First’,” she added.

via – FT | SourceFT | Search  》coronavirus vaccine

FDA approves Bristol Myers’ liver cancer therapy

Bristol-Myers-Squibb

(Reuters) – Bristol Myers Squibb’s combination of its immunotherapies, Opdivo and Yervoy, to treat a type of liver cancer received U.S. regulatory approval, the drugmaker said on Wednesday.

The therapy received the Food and Drug Administration’s accelerated approval to treat patients with hepatocellular carcinoma, who have previously been administered sorafenib, the current standard of care. (reut.rs/2xoHuvv)

The accelerated approval program allows a speedier market entry to medicines that fill an unmet medical need for a serious condition, and further clinical trials may be required for final approval of the therapy.

The FDA approval is based on an early stage trial in which 33% of patients responded to the therapy.

“The incidence of liver cancer is rising in the United States…and today’s approval provides a new option for patients with HCC (hepatocellular carcinoma),” said Andrea Wilson, president Blue Faery: The Adrienne Wilson Liver Cancer Association.

HCC is the most common type of primary liver cancer and is more common in people who drink large amounts of alcohol and who have an accumulation of fat in the liver.

via – Reuters | SourceReuters | Search  》liver cancer therapy

Sanofi partners with U.S. agency to develop coronavirus vaccine

coronavirus-vaccine
PARIS (Reuters) – Sanofi said on Tuesday it was working with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) of the U.S. Health Department to develop a vaccine against the new coronavirus from China.

The French drugmaker said it intended to further investigate an advanced pre-clinical vaccine candidate previously developed against the SARS virus in the early 2000s, which it believes could protect against the latest coronavirus.

At least a dozen drugmakers are working on vaccines or antivirals and other treatments to help those infected with the fast-spreading contagion.

Johnson & Johnson said last week it was collaborating with BARDA to speed up development of a coronavirus vaccine.

via – Reuters