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Novo Nordisk, Flagship, Pfizer, Eli Lilly news

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Novo Nordisk, Flagship, Pfizer, Eli Lilly news

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Bernie increases the pressure on Novo

After Senate Health Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders launched an investigation into Novo Nordisk’s pricing of Ozempic and Wegovy in April, he has now called a vote to subpoena the head of the company’s U.S. division.

Sanders said the committee has repeatedly tried unsuccessfully to schedule Novo’s voluntary appearance at a hearing. Meanwhile, Novo said in a statement to STAT that it has offered several dates for a hearing.

If history is any indication, there’s a good chance the committee won’t actually vote on the subpoena — it’s primarily a leverage tool to force Novo to cooperate. Still, it’s an escalation in Sanders’ campaign to push companies to lower drug costs for patients.

Read more.

Verily is participating in the GLP-1 gold rush

Google Health Tech spinout Verily said it is phasing out its chronic disease management app and moving to a new, “evolved” product called Lightpath, which will offer GLP-1 drug prescriptions.

Verily, it has had a turbulent journey. It started with groundbreaking ideas like wristbands that could detect cancer, but looking for a new direction amid turnover among employees and executives, it is now focusing on the same idea that many other health tech platforms have already adopted: prescribing GLP 1s.

Read more from STAT’s Brittany Trang.

Pfizer to collaborate with Flagship on anti-obesity drugs

Flagship and one of the companies it founded, ProFound Therapeutics, said today they have agreed to identify new obesity treatments in collaboration with Pfizer.

This is part of one previously announced agreement in which Flagship and Pfizer would each invest $50 million to develop ten drug programs. They said at the time that Pfizer will have an option to acquire any selected program, and that Flagship and its companies will be eligible to receive up to $700 million in milestones and royalties for each successfully commercialized program.

The partnership shows Pfizer’s renewed efforts to join the fast-growing obesity market after the company encountered several obstacles in developing its own drugs to rival Novo and Lilly. Last year it stopped developing a once-a-day and twice-a-day GLP-1 pill.

What do Parkinson’s and obesity have in common?

Boston-based NodThera is developing a molecule to treat both Parkinson’s disease and obesity, and does so by suppressing inflammation.

NodThera is studying an NLRP3 anti-inflammatory drug and this morning they succeeded reported that in a Phase 1b/2a trial in obese people with elevated CRP (a measure of inflammation), the treatment group experienced a “highly statistically significant and rapid CRP reduction.”

Details about the results are scarce, but the company also said that more than 75% of people in the treatment group had a CRP level of less than 2 mg/L after 28 days, compared to less than 25% of people in the placebo group.

It remains to be seen how this treatment actually performs in reducing weight and treating Parkinson’s disease; NodThera plans Phase 2 trials for these indications. But in the meantime, researchers elsewhere have looked at the overlap between the two diseases in other contexts.

Early data shows that the highly popular class of GLP-1 anti-obesity drugs may also help Parkinson’s disease. Scientists hypothesize that these treatments may provide benefit by reducing inflammation and protecting neurons from dying.

Earlier this year, researchers in France reported that Parkinson’s patients taking an early GLP-1 drug called lixisenatide experienced no worsening of motor symptoms for a year, unlike patients on placebo who did.

Novo Nordisk itself has expressed support for the theory that GLP-1 drugs provide benefits by reducing inflammation. The head of development previously told STAT that follow-up analyzes of Wegovy’s groundbreaking cardiovascular study showed that inflammation appears to play a key role in Wegovy’s heart benefit.

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