Klick Health brings together biotech and pharmaceutical figures to discuss industry innovations, investments and the future – Endpoints News

At Klick Health’s first brainstorming conference with biotech and pharmaceutical industry experts, before the start of the pandemic, it was no surprise that many of the discussions included topics about Covid. But while vaccines and treatments were discussed, so were the implications for drug development, federal responses, health disparities—and what to do now and next.

George Yankopoulos

George Giankopoulos, Chief Scientist and Co-Founder of Regeneron, opened the conference by answering a question from Ron Cohen, CEO of Acorda, about the spotlight on the industry during Covid and some of the “flak” biopharmaceuticals that have received in the past.

“I hope that society will recognize that the impact that disease can have, measured as it was in the pandemic in the trillions, economically – and not even able to calculate the loss of life and the suffering associated with it,” Giankopoulos said. . “I hope this makes society realize that maybe we shouldn’t be investing more than $30 million in, say, NIH funding, but also investing a lot more in this great industry to protect against these catastrophic losses. I think we’re not doing enough.”

He attributed Regeneron’s speed in developing its early REGEN-COV monoclonal antibody therapy — along with work by Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Eli Lilly — to the companies’ decades of scientific development and investment. With much more needed, he pointed out.

“We have to recognize none of the existing solutions to disease and none of the existing solutions to climate change will save us. We need new solutions,” he said, which will only come from supporting the next generations of talent and investing “on a much larger scale than we are today.”

Rick Bright

Former BARDA chief Rick Bright also spoke about the need to invest in and improve not only the current response to Covid as it becomes endemic, but also the importance of trust and truth in these efforts. Bright led BARDA under President Barack Obama, joining in 2016, but was removed and reassigned to a lower-level position at NIH by the Trump administration in April 2020. Bright subsequently filed a whistleblower complaint and testified before Congress about the chaotic government response to the pandemic.

“We hear a lot about the erosion of trust and to be credible we have to be honest,” he said. “… Since the beginning of this pandemic, we haven’t had much truth, frankly. So we have to make sure that we not only get the truth out, but that we translate the truth into something that people can understand. When they see the development of a vaccine or a therapeutic monoclonal antibody, as George said, they don’t realize it was a decade’s worth of work. This was omitted for a political rhetoric that said “oh, I made a vaccine in a short time”.

By Jacques

Also taking the stage on a panel about personalized medicine was Tal Zaks, the former chief medical officer of Moderna and the Spikevax Covid vaccine developer, who is now a partner at OrbiMed Advisors.

While the ideas of personalized medicine and mass-market vaccines may seem incompatible, Zaks noted that “all medicine has always been personalized. We go to the doctor for treatment for ourselves, not for our neighbor.”

In Covid-19 vaccines and treatments, for example, personalization comes into play for immunocompromised people and some cancer patients who don’t respond as well and need specific, different treatments. While cost, benefits and value are familiar topics in personalized medicine discussions, Zaks said the potential size of the patient pool for personalized medicines is less important to him than what they can offer.

“Instead of looking at the rise of personalized medicine as something that drug companies turned to because they couldn’t make money elsewhere, I have a different view. To me, the reason we’re talking about personalized medicine is because that’s what science has revealed,” he said. “… The world of science and the world of technology open up opportunities for us to better understand populations — even in prevalent diseases. If you talk to the pharmaceutical company today, they’re not really shying away from cardiovascular disease or neurological disease or diabetes, what they’re bringing to the fore is a much more nuanced way of understanding these populations and an individual’s risk factor.”

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