12 November 2019


  • Merck wins European approval for first-ever Ebola vaccine – Reuters
  • KKR makes formal approach to Walgreens Boots on record buyout – Bloomberg
  • AstraZeneca succeeds in treating lupus in late-stage study – Reuters
  • Google signs healthcare data and cloud computing deal with Ascension – Reuters
  • Lonza CEO to leave chemicals maker after less than a year – Reuters
  • Novartis: Cosentyx phase 3 Prevent trial met primary endpoint – Bloomberg
  • Top trending life science tweets
Saumya Joseph of Reuters reports that Merck has received approval from the European Commission to market its Ebola vaccine, less than a month after a European medicines panel backed the first-ever vaccine against the deadly virus. The vaccine, Ervebo, is approved for individuals aged 18 years and older and has already been used under emergency guidelines to try to protect against the spread of a deadly Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo. Reuters

Ed Hammond, Aaron Kirchfeld, and Dinesh Nair of Bloomberg report that KKR has formally approached Walgreens Boots Alliance about a deal to take the company private, in what could be the biggest-ever leveraged buyout. The private equity firm has been preparing a proposal to potentially buy out shareholders of Walgreens Boots. It’s unclear how feasible the transaction would be, given the need for large amounts of financing, and Walgreens Boots and KKR could decide against pursuing a deal. Bloomberg 

Saumy Joseph of Reuters reports that AstraZeneca’s experimental treatment significantly reduced disease activity in patients with autoimmune disorder lupus, in a late-stage study. The results pit the British drugmaker’s anifrolumab against rival GlaxoSmithKline’s Benlysta, the only new drug approved for lupus in the last 60 years. Reuters

Paresh Dave of Reuters reports that Google and Ascension have signed one of the biggest cloud computing deals that Google has done in healthcare to date, giving it access to datasets that could help it tune potentially lucrative AI tools. Ascension, which operates 150 hospitals and more than 50 senior living facilities across the US, will move some data and analytics tools in its facilities to Google’s servers. Ascension said it aims to use AI to help improve clinical effectiveness as well as patient safety. Reuters

John Revill of Reuters reports that Lonza CEO Marc Funk is leaving the Swiss chemicals company after less than a year in the job. Funk, who has held his post since March, will be replaced by Chairman Albert Baehny on an interim basis until a permanent replacement is found. Funk will stay with the company until January 2020. Reuters

Jan Dahinten of Bloomberg reports that results from Novartis’s phase 3 Prevent trial evaluating efficacy and safety of Cosentyx show early relief in patients with non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis (nr-axSpA). 42.2% of patients treated with Cosentyx had improved ASAS40 scores through week 16, and improvements continued through Week 52. Prevent is the largest study of biologic in patients with nr-axSpA, with around 1.7m patients in the EU and US. Bloomberg


Upcoming events

  • FT Global Pharma & Biotech Conference, London (11-12 November)
  • Credit Suisse 28th Annual Healthcare Conference, Scottsdale, AZ (11-13 November)
  • Jefferies Global Healthcare Conference, London (20-21 November)
  • Canaccord Genuity Medical Technology & Diagnostics forum, New York (21 November)
  • Goldman Sachs Asia Pacific Healthcare Forum 2019, Hong Kong (25-26 November)
  • Piper Jaffray Annual Health Care Conference, New York (27-29 November)