Brainstorm Health: Roche Spark Deal, Measles Outbreak, Kansas Abortion Ruling
Happy Friday, readers!
We’ve been making a point to include updates on the ongoing measles outbreak in this space. Days like today demonstrate why.
The resurgence of this highly contagious infectious disease, which has already struck some 700 people across nearly two dozen states, has now led to a widespread quarantines at the University of California, Los Angeles and California State University, L.A. Those are two of the most prominent universities in Souther California, and hundreds of students have now been quarantined in a preventive effort.
This recent rash of infection news, and growing concerns that public health responses may not keep pace with certain communities’ vaccine skepticism, has led presidential contenders from the left and right alike to speak out.
President Donald Trump himself issued a stark request on Friday: “They have to get the shot,” he told reporters. “The vaccinations are so important. This is really going on now, they have to get their shots.” (Notably, this is a bit of a departure for Trump, who has previously voiced skepticism about vaccination norms in their current form.)
Sens. Kamala Harris (of California) and Bernie Sanders, as well as several other Democratic 2020 contenders, have doubled down on their support of vaccinations, and against opt-out programs other than for very limited cases, in the outbreak’s wake.
Just how effective will a public pressure campaign be? That’s a more complicated question given the evidence that pushing back on anti-vaccination beliefs tends to solidify skeptics’ existing positions. The issue, when it comes to measles though, has officially made the national conversation.
Read on for the day’s news, and have a wonderful weekend.
Roche faces continued woes in Spark M&A quest. Roche’s $4.3 billion bid for gene therapy specialist Spark Therapeutics is still on shaky ground. The Swiss drug giant announced another extension on its bid as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) continues to probe the corporate marriage, though Roche still sounded confident that the deal will close in 2019. (Reuters)
The liver disease drug space has a problem. Some drug companies have chalked out NASH, a form of difficult-to-detect fatty liver disease, as one of the most promising and potentially lucrative avenues for drug development. That argument took yet another hit this week as biotech giant Gilead’s experimental NASH drug failed to best the placebo in a late-stage clinical trial. Now, Gilead is hitching its wagon to hopes that combination therapies will improve efficacy in the studies. (Xconomy)
THE BIG PICTURE
Kansas Supreme Court ruling defends abortion rights. The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that a woman’s right to an abortion is protected by the state’s constitution regardless of whether Roe v. Wade is eventually struck down by the federal Supreme Court. It’s a bit of a surprise ruling from a conservative state—and underscores the raging war over abortion rights, which is expected to reach a head at the nation’s highest court after several state-launched challenges. (CBS News)
Why There’s More Bad News Than Good News in Falling Birth Rates, by Matt Heimer and Nicolas Rapp
Patients Are Caught In the Middle of a War Between Two Health Care Behemoths, by Steven Findlay and Kaiser Health News
Central Banks Are the World’s Newest Climate Change Activists, by Katherine Dunn
Commentary: The Fallacy of Medicare for All, by Bill George
|Produced by Sy Mukherjee|