Happy Monday, readers. I hope you had a wonderful weekend.
Peanut allergies can be deadly—and a complicated practical issue to deal with, as anyone with personal experience with such an allergy (and there’s about one million kids in the U.S. who have one) well knows. But a new clinical trial suggests that the key to combating a life-threatening reaction may actually be, well, peanuts themselves.
Or at least a derivative of peanut protein manufactured into a new drug, according to the late-stage study results published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
“In this phase 3 trial of oral immunotherapy in children and adolescents who were highly allergic to peanut, treatment with AR101 resulted in higher doses of peanut protein that could be ingested without dose-limiting symptoms and in lower symptom severity during peanut exposure at the exit food challenge than placebo,” wrote the study authors of the treatment being developed by Aimmune Therapeutics, which funded the study.
Ok, let’s break that down into plainer terms. Aimmune’s therapy was tested in trial participants across multiple countries and age groups. By its end, about two in three of the nearly 400 children being given the drug (whose dosage was increased as the study went on) were able to take in 600 milligrams of peanut protein without having an allergic reaction. Simply put, AR101 could prove to be a way of building up peanut tolerance, especially among the young.
That latter point is significant. On first glance, it seems Aimmune’s drug may not be quite as effective in older adults. But it could still become the first Food and Drug Administration approved peanut allergy treatment in history.
Read on for the day’s news.
The surprising cause of health data breaches (it’s not hackers). You’d think that the hackers are the ones responsible for, well, hacking your health care. Well… Maybe not so much, according to a new government study by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In fact, old-fashioned follies far outpaced digital delinquency as the source of most data hacks between October 2009 and the end of 2017. More than 40% of incidents were traceable to theft, whether by health care organization employees or outsiders, and another quarter stemmed from simple employee mistakes such as insecure data practices (including sending information to the wrong people). (Reuters)
Is someone actually going to buy Tesaro? Shares of oncology-focused biotech Tesaro have spiked sharply in the past week (nearly 40% since Friday morning) on speculation that the company may have a big name buyer waiting in the wings. Just who might that be? The rumor mill has been churning, with players like Gilead (which made a blockbuster cancer acquisition last year when it snatched up Kite Pharma and its CAR-T technology) reportedly in the mix. There were similar whisperings earlier this year that Roche was interested in an acquisition, so we’ll see if the water cooler talk pans out. (Bloomberg)
THE BIG PICTURE
Health care stocks to consider as Obamacare lives. This morning, Fortune released its latest investor’s guide—and my colleagues Jen Wieczner and Scott DeCarlo spoke with several financial experts on biotech and health care equities to consider now that the Affordable Care Act appears to be out of any immediate danger (well, for the most part). Portfolio managers and analysts at a number of firms pointed to companies like Abbott Laboratories, Merck, gene sequencer Illumina, and Vertex Pharmaceuticals. Check out why they think the firms are good bets for growth here. (Fortune)
Commentary: The Midterms Were a Step Towards a Healthier U.S., by Sandro Galea
The Best Investing Advice for 2019 from Fortune‘s Experts, by Matthew Heimer
Family Behind Purdue Pharma and OxyContin Faces Multiple Lawsuits, by Renae Reints
|Produced by Sy Mukherjee|