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Morning Read: Novo Nordisk passes milestone as FDA panel greenlights new diabetes drug

Also, a new survey highlights concerns that put people off clinical trial participation and Propeller Health has inked a deal with UK based Vectura to add remote monitoring technology to its inhalers.

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An FDA panel has voted unanimously to approve NovoNordisk’s latest drug to help diabetics manage their blood-glucose levels. It’s a major milestone, but the drug is still subject to final approval. Still, the FDA usually takes its cue from the panel. IDegLira is a combination of Novo Nordisk’s diabetes drug Tresiba, with its GLP-1 agonist Victoza. The new drug also only requires one injection rather than two. — Reuters

Mixed emotions about clinical trials shouldn’t come as a surprise but a survey of more than 1,500 adults aged 18 and 69 years old by Memorial Sloan Kettering found only 4 out of 10 said they would participate over a variety of concerns. Side effects and safety were the top issue for more than half of those surveyed. Insurance coverage and out-of-pocket costs worried half of them. The inconvenience of trial locations or of getting a placebo instead of an active treatment drug was a source of anxiety for just under half. In response to the placebo concern, Dr. Paul Sabbatini, deputy physician-in-chief for clinical research at Memorial Sloan Kettering, noted that the vast majority of clinical trials do not involve a placebo. —


Jazz Pharmaceuticals has led a $49 million round to launch Arrivo Bioventures. —Fierce Biotech

Selecta Biosciences has registered for an initial public offering. The company has taken its time and is older than a couple of the other biotech companies that filed for and later pulled IPOs. Its technology is designed to alert an individual’s immune system to call off an attack — antigen-specific tolerance. The biotech is collaborating with Sanofi to develop treatments for celiac disease and Type 1 diabetes. — Xconomy

Entellus Medical, a medical device maker, has appointed Brent Moen CFO. The certified public accountant previously worked as CFO of ABRA Auto Body & Glass. — Becker’s Hospital Review

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A Deep-dive Into Specialty Pharma

A specialty drug is a class of prescription medications used to treat complex, chronic or rare medical conditions. Although this classification was originally intended to define the treatment of rare, also termed “orphan” diseases, affecting fewer than 200,000 people in the US, more recently, specialty drugs have emerged as the cornerstone of treatment for chronic and complex diseases such as cancer, autoimmune conditions, diabetes, hepatitis C, and HIV/AIDS.

Propeller Health has inked a deal with UK-based Vectura to develop smart inhalers using Vectura’s lever-operated multidose inhaler to track medication adherence. — Fierce Medical Devices


Anthem CEO Joseph Swedish acknowledged tensions behind the scenes between Anthem and Cigna in the runup to their merger without detailing them. WSJ had access to letters that noted Cigna had accused Anthem of screwing up submissions to regulators and Anthem has pushed back at Cigna for being slow to share information. The behind-the-scenes drama hasn’t unraveled the deal as of yet. — The Wall Street Journal

A New York ambulance service has hired Chinese healthcare workers to bridge language barriers. — Becker’s Hospital Review

Planned Parenthood has expanded into telemedicine with an app that provides access to video consultations and the ability to order birth control and urinary tract infection meds for mail delivery. So far, residents of Hawaii, Alaska, Idaho, Washington, and Minnesota have access to the service. — Hawaii24/7


Fitbit is none too thrilled with a study highlighting shortcomings of its fitness trackers. Not surprisingly, the plaintiffs behind a lawsuit against Fitbit taking issue with the accuracy and consistency of its devices welcomed the study by researchers at California State Polytechnic University, Ponoma. —  Fierce Mobile Healthcare

The former Practice Fusion CEO and Founder along with other former Practice Fusion staff, have launched iBeat, which has developed a personal emergency alert wearable. — Venture Beat

Patient communication platform pingmd has appointed Susan Driscoll as president and CEO. Driscoll was previously CEO of the professional and education division of Wolters Kluwer Health. The former CEO and Co-founder Dr. Gopal Chopra will remain in an active role as chairman. — PR Newswire


Washington state and California have filed lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson over the vaginal mesh implants that have been the source of problems for many of its users. Specifically, the complaints contend that the company failed to clarify the risks of vaginal mesh implants to repair pelvic collapse. The suit says it failed to detail the complications associated with its product to physicians and patients. — The Wall Street Journal


Tribune Publishing, the publisher of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, has an unlikely investor: Patrick Soon-Shiong. — Phoenix Business Journal

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