πŸ—ž GSK Novartis selling eye and respiratory units; BioNTech sets up shop in Singapore

Hello and welcome back to The Friday Kable, your round-up of the most interesting life sciences stories this week.

A lot of attention was devoted this week to the UN climate summit, COP27, but the output from the summit hasn't yet lived up to pre-event expectations. One of the most anticipated announcements from the event is around Belize's plans for its carbon credits. This week also saw the G20 Summit, with India taking charge of the G20 from Indonesia. The event saw the launch of a new G20 Pandemic Fund to target future pandemic preparedness in LMICs, which has so far only raised 14% of its projected $10 billion target. Elsewhere, Tunisia, which just a few months ago was vying to host the HQ for the African Medicines Agency, is seeing pharma companies exit the country, with medicine manufacturers saying the government still owes them $243 million. All this and much more in this week's issue.

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WHO may have a ringside view of future pharma-government deals under the WHO-backed pandemic accord. The agreement draft is currently under negotiation by the health agency's member countries. If finalised, it will be a huge step forward in ensuring equitable access to vaccines and drugs around the world.

If you hate trips to the dentist, the WHO says go nevertheless. Nearly half of the world's population suffers from oral diseases, with a higher burden in LMICs. The WHO is recommending countries to include equitable oral health services in their national planning and improve access to affordable fluoride toothpaste.


India manufacturing giant Lupin continues to run afoul of the US FDA after the company's Nagpur plant received a Form 483 on preapproval inspection. This is Lupin's second compliance reprimand in just five weeks.

In 2021, the Indian government faced criticism for the abrupt approval of Bharat Biotech's Covaxin without completing Phase 3 human trials or publishing Phase 2 reports. However, almost two years later, the government and Bharat Biotech rubbish these reports terming them fake news.
(Bharat Biotech)

The US is investing $15 million in India as a part of the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII) initiative to accelerate quality infrastructure in LMICs. The funds will support the expansion of an India-based manufacturer of women's hygiene products and eye clinics for corrective surgery to aid the underserved population in non-metros.
(The Print)

Meanwhile, China is building 250,000 quarantine beds in the manufacturing district of Guangzhou, even as crowds of angry protestors took to the street over coronavirus curbs, sparking unrest.

In May 2021, BioNTech said it was aiming to set up mRNA manufacturing in Singapore. 18 months on, the firm acquired a manufacturing facility from a Novartis unit. The facility will now serve as BioNTech's regional HQ, initially making a range of mRNA-based product candidates, authorized vaccines and therapeutics.

South Korea's International Vaccine Institute (IVI) is partnering with RNA gene expert Lemonex to develop next-gen mRNA vaccines for infectious diseases using Lemonex's DegradaBALL platform.
(International Vaccine Institute)


On the sidelines of the ongoing COP27 summit, AstraZeneca has signed a comprehensive agreement with Egyptian health authorities to promote green health facilities and sustainable healthcare in Egypt.

British pharma GSK is transferring its anti-infective secondary packaging manufacturing to the UAE. And with a state-of-the-art pharmaceutical production infrastructure, the UAE health ministry is motivating others to follow suit.


In addition to existing funding, The Gates Foundation is pledging $7 billion towards hunger, disease, poverty and gender inequality in Africa for the next four years, with Nigeria being the biggest beneficiary.
(The Gates Foundation)

In the latest COP27 developments, the European Union and four member countries are funding €1 billion for African climate adaptation and €60 million for loss and damages.

Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre (ADPHC) is collaborating with the Africa CDC to strengthen public health through advanced research and knowledge exchange across critical public health areas to better prevent, predict, detect, and respond to health threats.
(Emirates News Agency)

The WHO's South African mRNA tech transfer hub, Afrigen, has inked a new partnership with Curapath to advance the development of the first African-owned mRNA SARS-Cov-2 vaccine. In the initial stage, the investigational mRNA vaccine will be manufactured in Afrigen's GMP facility to support a phase 1/2 clinical trial, expected to begin in 2023.

Ghana and South Korea are kickstarting a $12 million Phase 2 of the Comprehensive Community-Based Primary Healthcare Strengthening (CHPS+) project. The project, launched in 2016, resulted in a 50% reduction in under-five mortalities and a 10% reduction in maternal mortality in Ghana's Upper Eastern region by 2021 in Phase 1. Following the success, Phase 2 will see the strengthening of primary healthcare in two districts of Ghana.
(All Africa)

The African Development Bank continues its effort to make the African continent's pharma sector self-reliant. Its latest initiative is a $6 million grant to develop the pharmaceutical industry in Southern and Eastern Africa through the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

South Africa has launched its first-ever clinical trial to evaluate medical cannabis' effectiveness in curbing opioid addiction.
(High Times)

The WHO says Nigeria's indiscriminate and crude recycling methods of e-waste are causing thousands of toxicants to be released into the environment affecting pregnant women and children. With 29% of Nigeria's health burden coming from e-waste in 2021, the agency has asked stakeholders to speed up its national e-waste policy, including importing e-waste, a lucrative business in Nigeria.
(The Guardian)

Rest of the world

Inflation-hit UK's National Health Service's target to reduce the lengthy waiting period for elective and cancer care by 2025 is at risk due to funding and staffing issues and, of course, inflation.

In Madrid, Spain, health workers took to the street, demanding funding and staffing in primary health care after the government was accused of progressively dismantling public healthcare services in favour of private players.
(US News)

Mo₹€ Mon€Β₯

Novartis is apparently not done with its organisational restructuring, even after spinning-off generics giant Sandoz into a standalone unit. The Swiss pharma is reportedly considering selling its ophthalmology and respiratory units.

China's Silk Road Fund (SRF) is pumping big bucks, close to $2.8 billion, into Indonesia's pharma sector. And as a part of the deal, SRF and Indonesia's sovereign wealth fund INA will invest $120 million in state-owned pharmaceutical firms to improve digital services, product development and capital structure.

Anti-opioid addiction company, Indivior, is buying rival Opiant Pharmaceuticals in a $145 million cash deal to broaden its addiction treatment portfolio and access Opiant's new nasal-delivery technology, NARCAN, for opioid overdose reversal.


Literally bringing music to our ears, headphones are now jeopardizing the hearing of almost one billion young people worldwide, says a study. Experts are calling on governments to enforce safe listening policies and implement regulatory enforcement at loud music venues.
(The Guardian)

Indian researchers have repurposed an anti-hepatitis C drug, Alisporivir, to treat drug-resistant malaria. The drug showed potent antiparasitic activity against malaria-causing Plasmodium and didn't induce eryptosis, which causes premature death of red blood cells. Researchers will follow this experiment with clinical trials to further evaluate Alisporivir's efficacy.
(Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy)

Almost two years after the first Covid vaccine nabbed regulatory authorization, Daiichi-Sankyo says its own shot is ready to join the list of options as its mRNA Covid vaccine reached primary endpoints in booster trials.
(Daiichi Sankyo)

Nota Bene

Rising soil salinity in Egypt's fertile Nile Delta region is causing farmers to switch to less popular grains. While reasons for salinity are many, climate change-led rising sea levels and temperatures top the chart.

Here's an irony just as Earth hits a population of 8 billion. There has been a worldwide decline in sperm counts of more than 50% over the past 46 years. Once again, environmental toxins are being blamed for this reproductive crisis.
(Human Reproduction Update)

The Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate), a joint US-UAE initiative to adapt to climate-smart agriculture, was launched last year with a $4 billion pledge at COP26. At the COP27 summit, the initiative saw its pledges more than doubling, with $8 billion coming from governments worldwide.
(AIM for Climate)

That's it for the week. Thanks for reading The Friday Kable. This post is public, so feel free to share it.

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