The Alliance

The Weekly Dose | 05.15.20

May 15, 2020 1:21 pm

Americans and their representatives in Congress continue to focus on the coronavirus pandemic. Glimmers of hope keep emerging from the biopharmaceutical industry. The World Health Organization has said there are 102 vaccine candidates in the pre-clinical stage of development and eight that are undergoing human testing. America’s Biopharmaceutical Companies also explains how biopharmaceutical companies are working continuously with stakeholders across the R&D ecosystem to advance vaccine candidates as quickly and safely as possible.


In the articles and posts below we explore how and why this level of innovation is possible, and how lawmakers can sustain it. If you need more info for a story, or have questions, please email us. We look forward to working with you.



Patrick O’Connor – Executive Director

Rosemarie Calabro Tully – Communications Director




- Our favorite quote of the week, in @WSJ: “The U.S. is the world's predominant source of pharmaceutical #innovation, including new cancer drugs, next-generation biopharmaceuticals and tests that determine which patients will benefit from those drugs.” Click here to RT.


- #Vaccines are on everyone’s mind, especially in the fight against #COVID19. The good news is that, according to @PhRMA, some 258 are in development worldwide against diseases like cancer. Read more: Click here to RT.  


- In @FortuneMagazine, the President and CEO of @SBECouncil talks about why #pricecontrols are a bad idea: innovative drug companies “need certainty, and a policy ecosystem that encourages risk taking and investment.” #DrugPrices #DrugPricing Click here to RT.




Check out and share on Twitter our latest blog posts:


- What Do the Paycheck Protection Program and Antibiotic Resistance Tell Us About Drug Development? Government policies matter. Congress wields significant power, particularly in an economic downturn. What it does, and what it does not do, will have far-reaching consequences. Indeed, that is the message a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) reportsent to lawmakers. Click here to read the full blog post. Share on Twitter here.


- Now Is No Time For Politics. An inside-the-Beltway magazine recently ran a headline that said “hell, yes,” 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 reported this week that 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.




- Latest On Quest To Find Coronavirus Treatment. STAT News reports that Gilead has signed licenses for generic companies to make and sell remdesivir in 127 countries. (In related news: this Forbes column has said the Arnold-funded Institute for Clinical and Economic Review’s analysis of remdesivir is incomplete—and dangerous.) Reuters reports Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. could start a clinical trial as early as July for a potential COVID-19 treatment that is based on antibodies from recovered patients’ blood.


- One Step Closer To A Coronavirus Vaccine? According to The Boston Globe, Moderna has received the regulatory go-ahead to launch a phase two trial for its potential COVID-19 vaccine, and will soon test it on 600 volunteers. Reuters then reported that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted “fast track” designation to Moderna, which means the FDA will aim to make a decision on approving the vaccine within six months. Pfizer is increasing its manufacturing capacity so it will be ready in the event its potential vaccine makes it through trials. According to The Hill, Johnson & Johnson hopes to deliver 1 billion doses of a coronavirus vaccine next year.


- New Hope For Patients With Lung, Thyroid Cancer. BioSpace reports: “Eli Lilly is moving quickly to get a newly-approved precision oncology treatment for certain lung and thyroid cancers into the hands of patients. Following U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of Retevmo (selpercatinib), … Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly said it planned on having the drug available for patients within one week through specialty pharmacies. Lilly is moving fast due to the fact Retevmo is a first-of-its-kind treatment.”


- New Hope For Patients With Progressive Heart Disease? STAT News reports: “An experimental drug to treat an inherited, progressive heart disease clearly improved the symptoms of patients, its maker, MyoKardia, said. … The full data have not yet been published or reviewed by outside experts. But cardiologists called the top-line results alone a big step forward for patients with the disorder, called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy ...”


- Maryland Governor Vetoes Funding For Prescription Drug Board. STAT News reports: “In a surprise move, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed state funding for a ‘Prescription Drug Affordability Board.’ … In explaining his veto for a funding mechanism, the Republican governor wrote in a letter to legislative leaders that supporting permanent funding for the board ‘would raise taxes and fees at a time when many are already out of work and financially struggling,’ and that it would be ‘unconscionable’ to do so in the ‘midst of a global pandemic and economic crash.’” As we reported last year, John and Laura Arnold funded the legislative efforts to get this board established.




Writing in a local Michigan newspaper, Sally C. Pipes, president, CEO, and Thomas W. Smith Fellow in Health Care Policy at the Pacific Research Institute, warns against the type of price controls found in H.R. 3, the U.S. House’s drug pricing bill. Pipes says:


“Once these price controls, taxes and other penalties begin depleting their revenue, firms will curtail research and development — and thus lay off American workers. According to a recent poll, 45 percent of drug firms said that ‘significant’ reductions in research and development could force immediate job cuts and facility closures. Let's hope our leaders in Washington reconsider proposals that would cripple one of America's largest and most innovative industries — and leave patients without the lifesaving drugs they need.”