May 11, 2023
Life Sciences | Tea Leaves
  • A panel of outside advisers to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) unanimously voted Wednesday that the benefits of making a birth control pill available over the counter outweigh the potential risks.The 17-0 vote represents a major step forward in the decades-long push to make birth control pills available without a prescription for the first time ever. The FDA is expected to make a final decision later this summer. The agency does not have to follow the panel’s recommendation, but it often does. Members of the agency’s advisory board said the risks of unintended pregnancy were far greater than any risks associated with the drug called Opill. (Articles here, here, here, and here)
  • Scientists on Wednesday published a first draft of a human “pangenome” that captures more of the genetic diversity in the human population. The first draft of the human genome, published more than 20 years ago, was based largely on the genome of a single individual. It has since been used as the reference for understanding genetic variants in people. The new genome rundown may help clarify the contribution of genetic variation to health and disease, improve genetic testing, and guide drug discovery. It could be of particular value in understanding neurodevelopmental disorders such as schizophrenia, autism, macrocephaly, and microcephaly, as well as drug metabolism. (Articles here, here, here, and here)
  • Major stakeholders in the pharmaceutical industry on Wednesday testified in front of a key Senate panel to address questions over the affordability of insulin, with the assembled witnesses, as expected, passing the blame amongst each other. Drug manufacturing leaders cited numerous causes of insulin’s sky-high price that exist outside their companies. Earlier this year, the drug companies who spoke in front of the committee on Wednesday all announced they would be capping the out-of-pocket monthly prices for some of their insulin products. While consumers will benefit from these policies, the list prices for these products are unchanged. Representatives from the PBM industry subtly shot back at the drug company representatives, insisting that their companies have a key role in keeping costs down. (Articles here, here, and here)