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Pfizer and GSK’s New RSV Vaccines on Track for $2 Billion in Sales

Bloomberg reported:

GSK Plc and Pfizer Inc. are on pace to sell a combined $2 billion of their new RSV vaccines for older adults this year, more than five times what analysts had expected, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.

Early data from U.S. prescription sales for GSK’s Arexvy and Pfizer’s Abrysvo show the shots are in higher demand than expected, BI analyst John Murphy wrote in a research note. If that rate is sustained, up to 6.5 million patients will be injected this year in the U.S. alone.

The two RSV vaccines for people 60 and older have been on the market for a little over two months after scientists worked for six decades to develop immunization against the common, but sometimes deadly, respiratory syncytial virus. Global sales for adult RSV shots are expected to reach $10 billion by 2032, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.

In addition to the two adult vaccines approved for use this year, Pfizer, Sanofi and AstraZeneca Plc received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for RSV immunizations for infants.

COVID Vaccine Nobel Prize Sparks Anti-Vax Outrage

Newsweek reported:

The announcement of this year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, awarded to a pair of scientists for their work that led to the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, sparked anti-vax outrage.

Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman were awarded on Monday for their work on identifying a chemical tweak to messenger RNA that laid the foundation for the vaccines against COVID-19 that impacted millions worldwide. The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institute has praised the scientists’ work on transforming vaccine technology. Both have been working and focusing on how different RNA types interact with the immune system since the 1990s.

Since the announcement, many have taken to X, formerly Twitter, to question the praise for the scientists and the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine. “A Nobel Prize for a vaccine that didn’t prevent people from getting COVID and caused thousands of young, healthy adults’ hearts to explode. We are living in the Twilight Zone!,” Vince Langman, an X user wrote.

While another calls out the vaccine as the “most dangerous medical product ever released on the population. An experimental gene therapy,” DD Denslow wrote.

Ad Spending for Obesity, Diabetes Drugs Is Soaring This Year, as Drugmakers Shell Out Nearly $500 Million

CNBC reported:

Drugmakers spent nearly $500 million on advertisements for obesity and diabetes treatments in the U.S. during the first seven months of this year, up 20% from the same period a year ago, according to new data released Friday.

The data, from advertising analytics firm MediaRadar, demonstrates the rush by companies to capture new customers after months of hype around Novo Nordisk’s diabetes drug Ozempic and weight loss counterpart Wegovy.

Those drugs and similar treatments have soared in demand this year for their ability to help patients lose unwanted pounds. The medicines, known as GLP-1s, mimic a hormone produced in the gut to suppress a person’s appetite.

U.S. healthcare providers wrote more than 9 million prescriptions for Ozempic, Wegovy, and other obesity and diabetes drugs during the last three months of 2022, up 300% from early 2020.

Big Food vs. Big Pharma: Companies Bet on Snacking Just as Weight Loss Drugs Boom

CNBC reported:

For more than a century, frosted cornflakes have been the backbone of Kellogg’s business. That changes Monday, when the company will spin off its stable cereal business in favor of its faster-growing snack unit and rename itself Kellanova.

The spinoff comes weeks after another wager that consumers will graze between meals when J.M. Smucker bought Twinkie maker Hostess Brands for $5.6 billion in a bid to expand its snack lineup.

But food companies’ major bets on snacking come as investors fear the looming danger of Big Pharma’s blockbuster obesity and diabetes drugs Wegovy and Ozempic. Many investors have high hopes for the pharmaceuticals’ future, but their success could mean slower sales for the companies that produce Oreos, Doritos and Hershey’s Kisses.

Big Food’s bet on snacking began roughly a decade ago, and it’s only accelerated as the rest of the grocery aisles see sales stagnate, particularly as prices rise. The U.S. market for savory snacks is expected to grow 6% annually from 2022 through 2027, and sweet snacks’ sales are expected to rise 4.6% annually during that time, according to HSBC. Roughly three-quarters of consumers plan to snack every day, according to Accenture data.

At the same time, Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic and Wegovy have taken off, fueled by prescriptions to help patients lose weight. The drugs, known as GLP-1 agonists, suppress appetites by mimicking a gut hormone. Some patients even report developing aversions to foods with higher sugar and fat content — a category that includes many big snack brands.

Lyme Disease Vaccines Are Back, One in Trials From Pfizer and Another in Early Tests at Penn. But Will People Get Them?

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported:

Another Lyme vaccine is being tested at the University of Pennsylvania, using the school’s messenger RNA technology that worked so well in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines against COVID-19. So far, Penn’s mRNA Lyme vaccine has been studied only in mice — a long way from proof that it would work in people — but early results are promising.

Yet despite the potential to prevent a widespread disease that can cause severe pain, arthritis, and brain inflammation, a big question about the vaccines remains: Will there be much public demand?

The first time a Lyme vaccine was approved, in 1998, a small number of recipients said it caused arthritis and other adverse effects. Lawsuits were filed. An FDA review found no evidence that the vaccine was at fault, but demand fell off sharply.

Manufacturer GSK pulled the product from the market in early 2002, a little more than three years after it was approved. In a 2018 CDC survey of more than 3,000 U.S. residents, 64% said they were willing to get a Lyme disease vaccine, while 30% were uncertain and 7% were unwilling.

Conservative Judge Rejects Pharma Argument Against Medicare Negotiations

Axios reported:

In refusing to freeze Medicare drug price negotiations, a federal judge in Ohio on Friday appeared to throw cold water on one of the pharmaceutical industry’s main arguments against the Inflation Reduction Act.

Driving the news: U.S. District Court Judge Michael Newman, a Trump appointee, turned away the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s request for the negotiations to be paused while legal challenges to the IRA play out, writing that “participation in Medicare, no matter how vital it may be to a business model, is a completely voluntary choice.”

The big picture: The decision preserves the Biden administration’s timeline for drug price talks, including a requirement that manufacturers of the first 10 selected drugs by Monday submit data to consider in the negotiation of a maximum fair price.

What we’re watching: Any number of judges around the country who are presiding over the pending legal challenges to the IRA could later decide to pause the program should drug companies and their allies convince them that the law is harming them even before negotiated prices take effect.

Malaria Vaccine Big Advance Against Major Child Killer

BBC News reported:

A cheap malaria vaccine that can be produced on a massive scale has been recommended for use by the World Health Organization.

The vaccine has been developed by the University of Oxford and is only the second malaria vaccine to be developed.

There are already agreements in place to manufacture more than 100 million doses a year.

Data that has been published online, but has not been through the usual process of scientific review, shows the R21 vaccine is 75% effective at preventing the disease in areas where malaria is a seasonal disease.

Rabies Vaccine to Be Airdropped Across Southeastern Tennessee

WATE ABC 6 reported:

The Tennessee Department of Health has joined forces with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to combat the spread of rabies. Starting this October, the department will be dispersing rabies vaccine packets from the air along Tennessee’s borders with North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, and Alabama.

The vaccines will be distributed through sachet baits coated in an oily, fish-scented substance. The baits can be found by animals and then swallowed, leading to the development of immunity to rabies.

As the number of vaccinated animals increases, they will become a buffer to stop the spread to other wildlife, pets, and people. Low-flying airplanes and helicopters will drop the baits over three weeks in Tennessee.

Around 1.8 Million Americans Received COVID Shots Last Week, IQVIA Says

Reuters reported:

Around 1.8 million people in the U.S. received a COVID-19 vaccine during the week ended Sept. 22, according to data compiled by healthcare data and analytics firm IQVIA Holdings Inc (IQV.N).

Around 1 million people received the Pfizer (PFE.N)/BioNTech (22UAy.DE) shot and just under 800,000 got the Moderna (MRNA.O) vaccine, Michael Kleinrock, senior research director at the IQVIA institute told Reuters on Friday. He said the data might be missing some shots given at community vaccination sites and doctors’ offices.

The rollout of the shots began in earnest after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended updated shots from the manufacturers on Sept. 12. The updated shots are monovalent, or single-target vaccines, aimed at the XBB.1.5 variant of the virus. The XBB.1.5. is an Omicron variant that was dominant in the U.S. for much of this year but has since been replaced by other Omicron variants.

U.S. public health officials hope that Americans will welcome the new shot as they would a flu jab. But demand for the vaccine has dropped sharply since 2021 when it first became available.

New Cholesterol Drugs Could Harm Lungs, Warns Groundbreaking Global Study

SciTechDaily reported:

One of the most extensive global studies on the effects of cholesterol-lowering drugs has underscored a problem with a new class of drugs that could impair lung function in some patients. That’s the finding from a recent University of South Australia study, the first in the world to compare cholesterol-lowering medications (LDL-C drugs) to a range of clinical and heart and brain MRI biomarkers.

Genetic data from 340,000 U.K. Biobank participants was analyzed to explore the risks and benefits of LDL-C drugs. The outcomes have been published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.

In the vast number of cases, medication prescribed for high cholesterol does what it promises: significantly lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and age-related diseases. It does not cause any other adverse health conditions except diarrhea in some people.

However, lipid-lowering medications that clear cholesterol from the cells — known as PCSK9 inhibitors — could impair lung function and further studies are needed on their long-term side effects, researchers say.