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August 29, 2023

Big Pharma News Watch

More Dog Owners Are Questioning Vaccines Like Rabies After COVID + More

The Defender’s Big Pharma Watch delivers the latest headlines related to pharmaceutical companies and their products, including vaccines, drugs, and medical devices and treatments. The views expressed in the below excerpts from other news sources do not necessarily reflect the views of The Defender. Our goal is to provide readers with breaking news that affects human health and the environment.

More Dog Owners Are Questioning Vaccines Like Rabies After COVID

Bloomberg reported:

Vaccine skepticism has spread to our pets. More than half of U.S. dog owners expressed concerns about vaccinating their dogs, including against rabies, according to a new study published Saturday in the journal Vaccine. The study comes as anti-vaccine sentiments among humans have exploded in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is not the first indication that insurgent anti-vaccine attitudes have impacted our furry friends. A study published in the Canadian Veterinary Journal in 2021 found an overlap between the movement against mandatory childhood vaccines and vaccine-resistant pet owners. Another found a link between people skeptical of vaccinating their dogs and those who believe vaccines cause autism in children — a false rumor that’s been long-debunked.

In the new study, the authors surveyed 2,200 people and found that 53% had some concern about the safety, efficacy or necessity of canine vaccines. Nearly 40% were concerned that vaccines could cause dogs to develop autism, a theory without any scientific merit.

“What this demonstrates is that COVID fundamentally changed how Americans look at vaccines,” said Motta, who co-authored the paper alongside his sister, Gabrielle Motta, a veterinarian in Pennsylvania, and political scientist Dominik Stecula at Colorado State University.

Pfizer, BioNTech Challenge Moderna COVID Vaccine Patents at U.S. Patent Office

Reuters reported:

Pfizer (PFE.N) and BioNTech (22UAy.DE) asked a U.S. government tribunal on Monday to cancel patents on COVID-19 vaccine technology that rival Moderna (MRNA.O) has accused the companies of infringing. Pfizer and its German partner told the U.S. Patent Office’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board that the two Moderna patents are “unimaginably broad” and cover a “basic idea that was known long before” their invention date of 2015.

Pfizer said in a statement on Monday that it and BioNTech’s vaccine was “based on BioNTech’s proprietary mRNA technology and developed by both BioNTech and Pfizer,” and that they remain confident in their intellectual property.

Pfizer and BioNTech have separately challenged the two patents and a third related Moderna patent in court in an ongoing Massachusetts federal lawsuit that Moderna filed against them last year.

Moderna in the lawsuit accused Pfizer and BioNTech of violating its patent rights in messenger-RNA vaccine technology. The case is one of several that have been brought by biotech companies seeking patent royalties from Moderna, Pfizer and BioNTech’s blockbuster COVID-19 vaccines.

Blood Thinners, Diabetes Meds Among First 10 Drugs for U.S. Price Negotiations

Reuters reported:

The Biden administration on Tuesday released its list of 10 prescription medicines that will be subject to the first-ever price negotiations by the U.S. Medicare health program that covers 66 million people, with big-selling blood thinner Eliquis from Bristol Myers Squibb (BMY.N) and Pfizer (PFE.N) among them.

Medicines on the list include Merck & Co’s (MRK.N) diabetes drug Januvia, Eliquis rival Xarelto from Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N), and AbbVie‘s (ABBV.N) leukemia treatment Imbruvica.

Other drugs on the list include Amgen‘s (AMGN.O) rheumatoid arthritis drug Enbrel, Boehringer Ingelheim and Eli Lilly’s (LLY.N) diabetes drug Jardiance, J&J’s arthritis and Crohn’s disease Stelara and insulin from Novo Nordisk (NOVOb.CO).

This kicks off the negotiation process for the 10 drugs whose new prices will go into effect in 2026. The program aims to save $25 billion per year on drug prices by 2031.

Avoid Opioids for Short-Term Dental Pain in Kids, New Guidelines Say

U.S. News & World Report reported:

Children having short-term dental pain from extractions or toothache should not be prescribed opioids but rather manage those aches with over-the-counter ibuprofen and/or acetaminophen, according to new guidelines.

The guidelines detailing dental pain management strategies for kids were endorsed by the American Dental Association (ADA) after being developed by the ADA Science & Research Institute in Chicago, the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine, and the Center for Integrative Global Oral Health at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine.

These guidelines apply to children under age 12.

“While prescribing opioids to children has become less frequent overall, this guideline ensures that both dentists and parents have evidence-based recommendations to determine the most appropriate treatment for dental pain,” said Dr. Paul Moore, guideline senior author and professor emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Dental Medicine.

“Not only will this advice allow for better treatment of this kind of pain, but it will help prevent unnecessary prescribing of medications with abuse potential, including opioids,” said Dr. Patrizia Cavazzoni, director of the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

The Massive Campaign to Air-Drop Tiny Rabies Vaccines to Raccoons

Wired reported:

This August, government airplanes and helicopters have been dropping tiny parcels from the sky for raccoons to find. Each one is about the size of a ketchup packet and contains an oral rabies vaccine that coats the mouth of the animal that bites into it. The vaccine is the United States’ best bet at limiting the spread of rabies — one of the world’s deadliest diseases.

The bait-drops along the Eastern U.S. are part of a massive effort to stamp out rabies, which originally infected domesticated dogs brought to North America by European settlers in the 1700s. Until 1960, dogs accounted for a majority of the rabid animals in the U.S. Today, raccoons, bats, skunks, and foxes are the most common carriers.

Its high fatality rate is why, every year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture blankets the Eastern Seaboard with more than 9 million vaccine-laden baits. Between the end of July and October, the baits are scattered by low-flying planes over rural areas and by helicopters over suburban neighborhoods.

The packets move across a conveyor belt inside the aircraft to ensure they’re evenly dispersed, then fall out of a tube. In cities, teams drive around and toss the baits into bushes, culverts under roads, and dumpsters behind restaurants — common dwellings for urban raccoons.

The CDC Just Published New Flu Vaccine Guidelines: What You Need to Know

Yahoo!Life reported:

This year’s guidelines are “pretty standard, with one big exception,” Dr. Thomas Russo, chief of infectious diseases at the University at Buffalo in New York, tells Yahoo Life. That’s the CDC‘s position on which flu vaccines people with egg allergies can use.

The CDC says people with egg allergies can now get any vaccine — egg-based or non-egg-based — that is “otherwise appropriate for their age and health status.” Previous recommendations had been that people with severe egg allergies should avoid egg-based vaccines.

“Data now shows that people who are egg-allergic really do not have a major contraindication to egg-based flu vaccines,” Dr. Amesh A. Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, tells Yahoo Life.

Talcum Powder Injury Lawyers Oppose J&J’s Attempt to Further Delay Litigation by Rearguing Expert Challenges reported:

Following two failed bankruptcy attempts and a nearly two-year stay on all progress in thousands of talcum powder lawsuits being pursued by women diagnosed with ovarian cancer, plaintiff’s lawyers are urging the U.S. District Judge recently appointed to preside over the litigation to reject yet another delay tactic by Johnson & Johnson, which seeks to reargue expert witness challenges that were already decided by the previous judge assigned to the cases.

Johnson & Johnson faces more than 60,000 Baby powder lawsuits and Shower-to-Shower lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system, each involving similar allegations that asbestos particles in the talc-based products caused users to develop ovarian cancer, mesothelioma, and other injuries.

Following massive jury awards returned in cases that went to trial several years ago, the manufacturer decided to initiate a controversial talcum powder bankruptcy scheme in 2021, as part of an attempt to force any settlement for the cases through the U.S. bankruptcy system.

Drugmaker Mallinckrodt Files for Second Bankruptcy in the U.S.

Reuters reported:

Drugmaker Mallinckrodt (MNK.A) on Monday said the company and some of its units have filed for a second bankruptcy in 3 years in the U.S., with the newest restructuring plan set to reduce its debt by about $1.9 billion.

The Ireland-based company initiated Chapter 11 proceedings after reaching a debt reduction deal that would cut $1 billion from the amount it owes to victims of the opioid crisis.

The company is one of the largest manufacturers of opioids. It also makes generic and branded drugs such as Acthar Gel, which is used to treat multiple sclerosis and infantile spasms.

Mallinckrodt, which had also filed for bankruptcy in 2020, was a defendant in more than 3,000 lawsuits alleging that it used deceptive and misleading marketing tactics to boost its sales of highly addictive opioid drugs.

LILLEY: Government Replaces Big Pharma in Pushing Opioids

Toronto Sun reported:

On June 29, 2022, it was announced that Purdue Pharma had settled a lawsuit, launched by British Columbia over the opioid crisis. The company agreed to a settlement with B.C. and all other provincial and territorial governments in exchange for $150 million in cash and access to “information and documents relevant to the lawsuit.”

Acting on behalf of all Canadian governments, B.C. alleged in their suit that “opioid manufacturers, distributors and their consultants engaged in deceptive marketing practices with a view to increasing sales.” The suit targeted as many as 40 manufacturers of opioids in Canada, but Purdue, the company behind OxyContin, settled first.

What’s fascinating about the settlement is that it came 104 days after the Trudeau government announced the expansion of a program to hand out Purdue Pharma’s Dilaudid opioid pills under the banner of “safer supply.” What had begun as an experimental treatment program in 2020, during the worst parts of the pandemic lockdowns, was now expanding across Canada.

We now had an official program to give opioid pills to addicts by their government instead of by doctors who had been seduced by “deceptive marketing practices.” Dilaudid, a registered trademark of Purdue Pharma, is a combination of hydromorphone and hydrochloride and is the preferred safer supply pill, known on the street as “Dillies.”

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