Gilead pays up to retain rights to Arcus Biosciences cancer drugs

USA – US biotech giant Gilead Sciences announced that it has exercised its options on three Arcus Biosciences investigational cancer molecule development and explore treatment combinations across the two portfolios after being encouraged by early clinical data. The pair, which signed a deal worth up to US$2 billion last May, have been circling a buyout, but Gilead appears content with its research and development collaboration for the time being, releasing US$725 million to exercise an option on a trio of cancer assets. These are Arcus’ anti-TIGIT molecules, domvanalimab and AB308,…

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South Africa offers incentives to 50-year-olds to get vaccinated against Covid-19

SOUTH AFRICA – The National Department of Health has announced that South Africans over the age of 50 who receive their first shot of the vaccine against COVID-19 can now receive a grocery voucher. The department said that the “Vooma Vouchers” were aimed at making it easier for older people to get vaccinated by “offsetting some of the costs they incur getting to the vaccination sites.” The Health Department plans to increase the vaccination rate among people in their 50s, as data shows that over 80 percent of COVID-19 deaths…

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Long-term study on effects of COVID-19 in children begins in Maryland, USA

USA – The National Institutes of Health has begun a long-term study of the effects of COVID-19 in children at the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical Center. The study, which will take place at the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, is expected to provide significant insight into the effects of COVID-19 on children’s overall health, development and immune responses to infection, and overall quality of life in the three years following infection. This research is part of the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Researching COVID to…

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Health CS calls for integrated regional efforts in the fight against Malaria

KENYA – Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe is challenging East African community member states to integrate new technologies in their cross-border strategic approaches aimed at eliminating malaria within the region. Speaking in Kigali, Rwanda during the first Great Lakes Malaria Initiative planning meeting, in his capacity as Chair of the EAC Health Ministers Sectoral Council, Kagwe said prioritizing prevention and Surveillance remain key in accelerating the elimination of the disease. “As we grapple with our sorry situation, elsewhere, a study by WHO showed that the South-East Asian Regions known as…

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NHIA, PharmAccess Ghana organize NHIA Data Day

GHANA – The National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) in partnership with PharmAccess Ghana on November 18th successfully organized a public forum on data analytics dubbed, “NHIA Data Day.” As an integral part of the 2021 National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Week Celebration, the event, held at the Ghana Shippers Authority conference room in Accra, offered other participants the opportunity to join via zoom. The PharmAccess sponsored forum, which brought together stakeholders in the health sector aimed at strengthening the NHIA’s capacity and stimulating its ambition as a data-driven health insurer.…

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Antibiotics misuse during pandemic brooding resistant bacteria: PAHO

BRAZIL – The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has issued a warning that the overuse of antibiotics and other antimicrobial drugs during the coronavirus pandemic is causing bacteria to develop resistance, rendering these important medicines ineffective over time. Drug-resistant infections have increased in Latin American countries such as Argentina, Ecuador, Guatemala, Paraguay, and Uruguay, according to a recent PAHO Epidemiological Alert. Furthermore, there has been a spike in the emergence of bacteria resistant to antimicrobials across the region, which have likely contributed to the rise in mortality in hospitalized COVID-19…

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Pfizer, US ink US$ 5.29 billion deal for Covid pill

USA – Pfizer Inc has announced that the US government will pay US$5.29 billion for 10 million courses of its experimental COVID-19 antiviral drug, as the country seeks promising oral treatments for the disease. The agreement covers roughly twice as many treatment courses as Merck & Co Inc has agreed to supply the US under its contract. The Pfizer pill is nearly 25% less expensive, costing around US$530 per course, compared to around US$ 700 for Merck’s. Pfizer has applied for emergency approval of the drug, known as Paxlovid, after…

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Denmark’s Novo Nordisk reaches US$3.3 billion deal to acquire Dicerna Pharma

DENMARK – Novo Nordisk, a Danish pharmaceutical company, has agreed to buy Dicerna Pharmaceuticals for US$3.3 billion in cash, the company has announced. Dicerna Pharmaceuticals creates RNAi-based therapies that selectively silence genes that cause or contribute to disease, effectively preventing disease manifestation by producing proteins. With the agreement, Novo joins rivals such as Novartis in betting on RNA interference technology, or RNAi, in which disease-causing genes are silenced or rendered ineffective. Genes are at the root of thousands of diseases. In 2019, Novo and Dicerna began a research collaboration to…

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New report lists Kenya, Rwanda, Ghana as upcoming medical tourist destinations

AFRICA – Fewer trips to India and other “medical tourism” destinations by Africa’s middle class is one anticipated result of a surge of investment into medical facilities, says a just-released report, which also highlights the opportunity for these facilities to mint money treating lifestyle diseases as Africa’s middle class rapidly expands. The number of Africa’s own regional medical tourism destinations is also seen rising beyond South Africa, Morocco, Egypt, and Tunisia—which currently have the most advanced medical facilities on the continent—according to Research and Market’s Medical tourism 2022: Africa potential.…

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Uganda records tremendous decline in Malaria incidences over the past year

UGANDA – Malaria cases in Uganda dropped by 8.7 per cent in the financial year 2020/21, a report released by the country’s observatory body has said. The annual report, issued by the ministry of health, said malaria cases dropped to about 13.6 million in 2020/21 from 14.9 million in 2019/20. The deadly disease remained the leading cause of hospitalization in the East African country, followed by pneumonia, neonatal conditions and anemia. The number of deaths in health facilities increased to 45,990 from 45,042 during the period, the report noted. Malaria…

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