With the school year starting and office reopening plans shifting, many people are unsure of what activities they should be comfortable doing and what they should avoid in the face of the delta variant. Instead of asking experts what other people should do, this week we look at what decisions those experts are making for themselves. We also look at the continued trend of people delaying health care, closing an $8 billion acquisition despite regulatory challenges, and the acquisition of SignalPath by Verily. Finally, we look at a new company in the surprisingly competitive space of psychedelic-based therapeutics.
Each week, we highlight five things you need to know about in the life sciences industry. Here’s the latest.
1. According to public health experts, haircuts are in and movies are out amid the delta surge
The current surge of the delta variant of COVID-19 can make it difficult to determine what is safe to do even if you are already vaccinated. Stat News surveyed a number of epidemiologists and other infectious disease experts to ask them what they personally would be comfortable with. The results paint a much more cautious picture than many imagined when vaccination campaigns first started for the public in the spring.
2. Many Americans continue to delay health care visits
A new report from Epic Health Research Network and the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that approximately 1 in 10 Americans are still delaying health care visits. Excluding visits related to COVID-19, hospitals would be at only 80% of forecasted utilization based on pre-pandemic trends. The most direct impact of this is on patients and health care providers. However, those missed or delayed treatments also mean a lower demand for drugs, medical devices and other medical supplies.
3. Illumina completes $8 billion Grail acquisitions despite unresolved challenges
When making an acquisition that faces challenges from both European Union and United States regulators, it is common to wait until those issues are resolved prior to completing the deal. Illumina, facing a deadline built into the structure of their offer to acquired Grail, have decided that they will complete the deal and set up Grail for the time being as a separate entity. Although the acquisition will be complete, Illumina will continue to face a review by the EU and a trial in Federal Trade Commission administrative court is expected to start this month.
4. Alphabet spinout Verily acquires clinical trial management system maker (CTMS) SignalPath
The acquisition will enhance Verily’s Project Baseline which is designed to increase efficiencies in trials and reduce costs. With the integration of SignalPath’s CTMS system, Project Baseline will allow researchers to manage every area of a clinical trial from design to patient experience to collecting real world evidence. In addition, both SignalPath and Verily have built large networks of researchers and clinical sites that users of their systems can access.
5. Psychedelics and their growing support
One year after its initial funding round raised less than $5 million, Oxford, UK-based Beckley Psytech has raised $80 million to launch clinical trials related to psychedelics psilocybin (the chemical found in magic mushrooms) and 5-MeO-DMT. Often targeting treatment-resistant mental health patients, psychedelic research companies are seeing growing support across North America and the UK. Psilocybin and 5-MeO-DMT remain Schedule I illicit substances in the United States and would be required to overcome significant regulatory hurdles for public use.