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What We’re Reading: Biden Boosts Biotech; 9/11 Program Nearly Depleted; Tpoxx Safe in Monkeypox


President Joe Biden is set to sign an order to boost biotech as part of his Cancer Moonshot; the health care program for 9/11 survivors and first responders is running short on money; tecovirimat (Tpoxx) has been found to be safe in patients with monkeypox.

Biotech Gets Boost From Biden Administration

President Biden is set to announce the director of a new agency that will focus on biomedical innovation and will sign an executive order on biotechnologies to boost his administration’s efforts to cure cancer. This will be part of an update on his Cancer Moonshot initiative, which is striving to cut the death rate of cancer in half in the next 25 years. The first director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health is expected to be Renee Wegrzyn, PhD, vice president of business development at Ginkgo Bioworks and head of innovation at Concentric by Ginkgo. She will help to make sure that biotechnologies used to fight cancer are manufactured and developed in the United States.

Health Care Program for Survivors, First Responders of 9/11 Is Low on Money

A $3 billion deficit for a federal health care program that funds ongoing medical care of survivors and first responders of 9/11 will need to be addressed before October 2024. The program will not be able to take on new members after that day if the funding shortfall is not addressed before then, according to a letter from 12 GOP House members. The program will need additional funds due to the increase in prices for medical and cancer care. A bill that would address the funding deficit was introduced in 2021 with bipartisan support but has not been voted on. Representative Frank Pallone (D, NJ), to whom the letter was addressed, said that it is now the Senate’s responsibility to vote on the bill that would address the funding shortfall.

Tpoxx Has Low Risk of Adverse Events in Monkeypox Treatment

A study conducted by researchers from the CDC found that tecovirimat (Tpoxx) was a safe treatment for monkeypox, with only 3.5% of users reporting adverse events (AE) and only 1 AE classified as serious. Approximately half of the 369 included patients had an HIV diagnosis, and the median interval from initiation to subjective improvement was 3 days. Most (97.7%) of the participants in the study were male and had a median age of 36.5 years. The study could not assess the efficacy of the medicine, but the researchers wrote that all clinicians will be encouraged to follow CDC guidelines for Tpoxx use in patients at risk of severe disease.

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