Coronavirus pharma news roundup – 03/07/20

Now that coronavirus drugs have been approved, market access looks set to be the next major challenge. We highlight the top R&D digital and market access news for COVID-19 from the past week.

  • Pfizer and BioNTech have announced early results from their ongoing phase 1/2 study of a potential COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine, showing the jab seems to be working in a small sample of patients. The companies presented data from the most advanced of four vaccine candidates, which are from their mRNA vaccine programme called Project Lightspeed.
  • The US government has acquired most of the global supply of Gilead’s COVID-19 drug remdesivir until September as health secretary Alex Azar said that president Donald Trump had struck an “amazing deal” with the pharma company.
  • Bharat Biotech is to begin trials of a coronavirus vaccine in India as the country faces a rapidly growing outbreak. There were nearly 19,500 confirmed cases reported in India on Monday, and the Hyderabad-based firm has clearance to begin trials of its locally made vaccine in July.
  • The coronavirus pandemic has forced healthcare systems around the world to make greater use of telehealth services during lockdown, and lawmakers in the US want to see if those changes could be permanent. Representative Robin Kelly (Democrat – Illinois) tabled a bill in the House at the beginning of the month that would ask the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to study the effects of changes to telehealth caused by COVID-19 on the federal Medicare and Medicaid programmes.
  • The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) says generic steroids should be used to treat patients hospitalised with COVID-19. The conditional recommendation is based on the results of the UK RECOVERY trial, which found that a low 6mg dose of dexamethasone reduced the chances of death by around a third in patients requiring mechanical ventilation, and 20% in those needing oxygen support.