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Brainstorm Health: State of the Union Promises, CRISPR IP, Sanofi Approval

Good afternoon and happy hump day, readers.

President Trump delivered his second formal State of the Union address to Congress last night (you can read a transcript of the whole thing here). As expected, health care made some pretty prominent appearances.

We previewed some of the topics the president would likely tackle yesterday, including an ambitious moonshot meant to eradicate HIV in the United States within the next ten years.

Trump did, indeed, broach that topic: “In recent years we have made remarkable progress in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Scientific breakthroughs have brought a once-distant dream within reach. My budget will ask Democrats and Republicans to make the needed commitment to eliminate the HIV epidemic in the United States within 10 years. We have made incredible strides. Incredible. Together, we will defeat AIDS in America and beyond,” he said.

That goal shouldn’t be out of the question given both the preventive and counteracting therapies we now have in place to combat HIV. However, as some noted afterward, the speech lacked details on how much funding would be required to fulfill such as lofty promise.

But HIV/AIDS weren’t the only major public health issues broached in the speech. Cancer and the hot button debate over drug pricing were also called out—if briefly, and without much in the way of detail. “Many childhood cancers have not seen new therapies in decades. My budget will ask the Congress for $500 million over the next 10 years to fund this critical life-saving research,” said Trump. It’s worth noting the entirety of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) budget for 2019 alone is $5.7 billion, or more than ten times the president’s 10-year proposal.

As for drug pricing, the president made some bold (and debatable) claims about the nature of medical inflation, saying that “2018 drug prices experienced their single largest decline in 46 years” under his watch. But he also doubled down on his assertion that lower drug prices in other nations amount to free-riding that hurts American consumers. That claim has also been met with some skepticism.

The SOTU had plenty packed in. The open question is whether or not it will affect regulatory change.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee


CRISPR’s IP conundrum. The friendly (OK, maybe not-so-friendly) debate over CRISPR intellectual property has pitted literal geniuses and gigantic institutions against each other. The saga has taken another turn, Xconomy reports, with former allies Caribou Biosciences and Intellia Therapeutics haunched in arbitration proceedings focused on a key licensing agreement. What, exactly, the two firms are fighting about is less clear. (Xconomy)


Sanofi scores FDA OK for rare disease drug. French drug giant Sanofi notched some value-add from its $4.5 billion deal to acquire smaller biotech Ablynx on Wednesday. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has now approved Sanofi/Ablynx’s rare disease drug Cablivi, which treats certain blood clotting disorders and could eventually score worldwide sales of $500 million. (FiercePharma)


You can (still) get your flu shot. Two Alabama schools have reportedly been closed for the rest of the week because of a mini flu outbreak. As a reminder: Flu season peaks in February, and it is absolutely not too late to get a shot—the most effective method of combating a clever, and ever-changing, virus.


5 Takeaways from Trump’s 2019 State of the Union Addressby Erin Corbett

Pfizer’s Best-Selling Drug Is Actually a Vaccine—and Its Price Keeps Increasingby Brittany Shoot

Tesla Cuts Model 3 Pricing Yet Again in Quest for Magic $35,000 Figureby David Meyer

China’s Year of the Big—Big Brother, That Isby Clay Chandler

Produced by Sy Mukherjee

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