What We're Reading: Vape Flavor Ban Reversal; FDA Approves Sickle Cell Drug; FTC Clears BMS–Celgene Merger

November 18, 2019
AJMC Staff
AJMC Staff

After saying he would back a ban on flavored vapes, President Trump now says he wants to study the issue more; the FDA approved Novartis’ crizanlizumab (Adakveo) as both monotherapy and in combination for patients 16 years or older with sickle cell disease; the Federal Trade Commission will allow Bristol-Myers Squibb to purchase Celgene for $74 billion in cash and stocks.

Trump Backs Away From Ban on Vape Flavors

FDA Approves New Drug to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

With more than 40 deaths now on record caused by vaping and increasing reports of severe lung injuries, support rose for a ban on flavored e-cigarettes. After saying he would back such a ban, President Trump now says he wants to study the issue more, according to The New York Times. His advisors warned that moving forward with the restrictions could cost him votes and support.The FDA approved Novartis’ crizanlizumab (Adakveo) as both monotherapy and in combination for patients aged 16 and older with sickle cell disease (SCD). The monthly infusion is estimated to cost between $85,000 and $113,000, the Associated Press reported. Study results show that patients taking Adakveo for 1 year had just 1.6 pain episodes (or a 50% drop in sickle cell pain episodes) related to their SCD and 36% had none, compared with current treatments glutamine (Endari; 25%) and hydroxyurea (50%). However, both of the latter don’t work, or even stop working, in some patients; their dosing is also more complicated.

Bristol-Myers Squibb/Celgene Merger Given the Go-Ahead

On the condition that they sell apremilast (Otezla)—which will become the largest divestiture on record—the Federal Trade Commission will allow Bristol-Myers Squibb to purchase Celgene for $74 billion in cash and stocks, in what Reuters is calling “the biggest pharmaceutical deal ever.” The deal is expected to close on November 20. Amgen, meanwhile, will purchase Otezla, a psoriasis drug, for $13.4 billion.