What We're Reading: Pharma Company Founder Sentenced; Second Confirmed Case of Coronavirus in the US; FDA Approves First Treatment for Rare Cancer

January 24, 2020

A pharmaceutical company executive is sentenced for his role in the opioid crisis; the CDC confirms the second US case of the Chinese coronavirus; the FDA issues accelerated approval of Tazverik for epithelioid sarcoma.

Insys Therapeutics Founder Sentenced in Opioid Crisis

CDC Confirms Second Case of Chinese Coronavirus

The founder of Insys Therapeutics, John Kapoor, was sentenced to 5 and a half years in prison for his role in fueling the opioid epidemic, NPR reports. This marks the first successful prosecution of a pharmaceutical executive since the crisis began. Insys was found to have aggressively marketed Subsys (fentanyl), a potent opioid painkiller, and orchestrated a conspiracy to bribe doctors into prescribing the painkiller even when patients did not need it. Kapoor was convicted in a bribery and kickback scheme, but his sentence is significantly less than the 15 years federal prosecutors were aiming for.A woman in Chicago was confirmed today by the CDC as having the second case of the Chinese coronavirus, according to The Hill. She recently returned from Wuhan, the epicenter of this recent outbreak, and remains in isolation. An additional 63 cases in 22 states are being monitored for possible coronavirus infection. So far in China, 26 people have died from coronavirus and cases top 800. Travel is severly restricted, and 3 US airports are implementing screening measures: John F. Kennedy International, San Francisco International, and Los Angeles International.

FDA Grants Accelerated Approval to First Treatment for Epithelioid Sarcoma

Tazverik (tazemetostat) is the first approved treatment specifically for patients with epithelioid sarcoma, a rare soft tissue cancer that often occurs in young adults, according to an FDA news release. The treatment has been approved for adults and pediatric patients aged 16 or older. Epithelioid sarcoma oly accounts for less than 1% of soft tissue sarcoma, but until now there were no approved treatment s The treatment works by blocking activity of the EZH2 methyltransferase, which may help in stopping cancer cells from growing, according to the release.