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Drug Company of Their Own

A number of hospitals and philanthropies in the US are banding together to form their own drug company, called Civica Rx, NPR reports. With it, they hope to combat both the rising costs and shortages of drugs, it adds.

Civica Rx will be independent, though will have a governing board that includes Intermountain Healthcare and the Mayo Clinic. According to CNBC, it has also named Martin Van Trieste, a former chief quality officer at Amgen, as its chief executive.

Civica is to begin by marketing 14 generic drugs that have been in both short supply and whose prices have risen, NPR says. It adds that the newly formed company will apply to the Food and Drug Administration to be able to make and sell the drugs, though notes it will likely start by contracting the work out and later bring the manufacturing in house.

NPR adds that the company will offer hospitals long-term contracts to buy the drugs at a fixed price, offering stability over short-term deals.

"We are creating a public asset with a mission to ensure that essential generic medications are accessible and affordable," says Van Trieste in a statement, according to CNBC. "This will improve the situation for patients by bringing much needed competition to the generic drug market." 

The Scan

Panel Votes for COVID-19 Pill

A US Food and Drug Administration panel has voted to support the emergency use authorization of an antiviral pill for COVID-19 from Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, CNN says.

But Not Harm

New Scientist reports that UK bioethicists say that though gene editing may improve food production, it should not harm livestock welfare.

Effectiveness Drop Anticipated

Moderna's Stéphane Bancel predicts that that current SARS-CoV-2 vaccines may be less effective against the Omicron variant, the Financial Times reports.

Cell Studies of Human Chromatin Accessibility, SARS-CoV-2 Variants, Cell Signaling Networks

In Cell this week: chromatin accessibility maps of adult human tissues, modeling to track SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, and more.