The Alliance

The Weekly Dose | 04.24.20

April 24, 2020 9:28 am

“Under normal circumstances,” says Andrew Strohman of the American Action Forum, “novel drug development takes 10 to 17 years from the initial exploratory phases to its entrance onto the market, and drug repositioning—repurposing a drug for treatment of a different disease—takes an additional 3 to 12 years.”


Thankfully in our COVID-19 world, biopharmaceutical firms have been able to use their resources—and flexibility from the government—to pivot and work as quickly as possible to find a treatment, and a vaccine. As a result, according to BioCentury, there are 173 vaccine and treatment candidates in the clinical stages of development.


Want to learn more about this research, or have other questions? Please email us. We look forward to working with you.



Patrick O’Connor – Executive Director

Rosemarie Calabro Tully – Communications Director




- .@moderna_tx, working together with the @NIH, is making huge strides in the development of a #COVID19 #vaccine – human trials were launched at a “record speed” and the next phase could begin this spring. Click here to RT.  


- Several drug companies—like @Merck, @LillyPad and @Pfizer—have empowered their medical employees to volunteer in the fight against the #coronavirus, providing crucial public health support. We thank them and their employees’ work during this pandemic! Click here to RT.


- We strongly agree with this opinion piece from @PennLive and @consumerpal: drug affordability boards, which cap #drugprices, will only harm Americans through creating shortages and reducing access especially to low-cost generic prescriptions. Click here to RT.




Check out and share on Twitter our latest blog posts:


- Now Is No Time For Politics. An inside-the-Beltway magazine recently ran a headline that suggested one of the major political parties should “politicize the coronavirus.” We respectfully disagree. There will be time for ideological arguments after the crisis has passed. (After all, this year is an election year.) But the John and Laura Arnold-funded Patients for Affordable Drugs is up to its old tricks, tossing around tired arguments that do not reflect the moment we’re living in. Click here to read the full blog post. Share on Twitter here.


- A Conversation About QALY. The Wall Street Journal recently reported the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review’s discriminatory #QALY is gaining traction on Capitol Hill. While we've said it before, we'll say it again: the decision to save a life with medical #innovation is not one for a “little-known Boston nonprofit” to make. Click here to read the full blog post. Share on Twitter here.


- What Is Step Therapy And How Does It Affect Patients? Some groups may tout step therapy as a way to reduce drug prices, but a growing body of research shows this idea doesn’t benefit patients at all. For a refresher on what step therapy is and how it can harm patients, read our post: Click here to read the full blog post. Share on Twitter here.




- Cancer Patient: Now, More Than Ever, We Understand The Importance Of Medical Research. In a letter in the Pocono Record, cancer patient Josephine Ferro writes: “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a whole new light to the importance of continued medical research. Viruses without treatments or vaccines can, and are, killing thousands of Americans. But even now there are biopharmaceutical companies working around the clock to retool their existing labs to test new medications. … This type of dedication to improving the lives of patients is something we desperately need to continue. Without it, treatments for deadly diseases like cancer wouldn’t exist, and medications to keep chronic illnesses like heart disease under control wouldn’t be available.”


- Moving Forward On Treatments For COVID-19. MedCity News reports Alexion has announced it will start a new Phase III trial of Ultomiris in COVID-19-related pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome. Reuters reports AstraZeneca is testing a diabetes drug as a potential treatment for COVID-19 patients who also had existing heart and kidney problems. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, meanwhile, has released guidelines stating there is still no confirmed treatment for COVID-19 and that any drug therapy should be provided as part of a clinical trial so the data can be used to determine if a treatment works.


- Hundreds Of New Vaccines In Development. According to a new PhRMA report, there are currently 258 vaccines in development for the treatment or prevention of disease. This number includes 108 potential vaccines for various cancers and 125 to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.


- New Hope For Patients With Aggressive Breast Cancer. The Food and Drug Administration has approved Tukysa, a new drug for an aggressive type of breast cancer that’s spread in the body, including into the brain. STAT News explains: “This type of cancer is driven by an overactive gene that makes too much of the HER2 protein, which promotes cancer growth. Each year, about 50,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with HER2-positive breast cancer. It’s usually curable, but when it spreads it kills most patients.”


- New Hope For Patients With Liver Cancer? According to STAT News, a “two-drug combination of Cabometyx, a once-daily pill, and Opdivo, an anti-cancer immunotherapy, improved the survival of previously untreated patients with kidney cancer compared to an older treatment, sunitinib …”


- Drug Could Improve Odds For Patients Who Have Undergone Bone Marrow Transplants. STAT News reports: “A new Phase 3 study in the New England Journal of Medicine confirms what many oncologists have known, anecdotally, for years: that ruxolitinib, a chemotherapy drug, can dramatically improve the odds of patients who have had bone marrow transplants — calming their grafted immune system’s attack on the body. The drug was tested in patients who had an acute form of the disease and who didn’t respond to steroids or other therapies.”




In Fortune, Karen Kerrigan, president and CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, explains why price controls are a bad idea:


“A little over half of pharmaceutical firms have fewer than 20 workers, and about four in five have fewer than 100, according to census data analyzed by the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council. Drug innovation as we know it depends on small, entrepreneurial businesses that bring life-saving drugs to the market. They need certainty, and a policy ecosystem that encourages risk taking and investment.”