The rapid development of innovations in the global healthcare industry continues to modernize and make healthcare better, cheaper, and more accessible. In December, a Chinese healthcare platform began selling Pfizer’s oral COVID-19 treatment, Paxlovid—the first retail sale of the drug in the country.
The number of COVID-19 cases in China has surged over the last number of months. The official data from China suggests that less than 20 people have died from COVID-19 but the World Health Organization believes China is downplaying the data.1
Leaked government information suggests almost 250 million people in China caught COVID-19 in the opening weeks of December. If correct, that would account for 18% of China’s 1.4 billion population and represent the largest global outbreak of COVID-19.2
Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine that was jointly developed by BioNTech, using mRNA technology, has not been approved for use in China.
Meanwhile, researchers in the United Kingdom have announced that a 13-year-old leukaemia patient at Great Ormon Street Hospital (GOSH) saw her cancer, that was previously thought incurable, go into remission, just one month after taking a new treatment.
The patient, Alyssa, became the first person ever to receive genetically modified immune cells called CAR T cells, that originally came from a healthy donor, in May 2022. The cells were edited using new base-editing technology, which allowed them to track down and kill the cancerous T-cells.3
COMPANY SPECIFIC UPDATES
Obesity Treatment by Novo Nordisk
Novo Nordisk recently announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expanded the approval of Wegovy for the treatment of obesity in teens aged 12 years of age and older.4
This FDA approval marks the first time an anti-obesity drug with once-weekly dosing has been approved for teens.
In clinical trials, teens aged 12 to 17 who took the weekly injections lost 14% of their body weight over 64 weeks. This data closely matches the trials for adults, where recipients lost 15% of their body weight after 58 weeks.
The FDA initially approved Wegovy in June 2021 for adults with obesity. It was the first obesity treatment approved in seven years.5
Of particular note, the active ingredient in Wegovy, semaglutide, has been previously approved in a lower dose formation by the FDA for type 2 diabetes in 2017. That product is sold under the name Ozempic.6
HIV Treatment by Gilead Sciences
Gilead Sciences, Inc. has had a number of its products approved by the FDA. In December, Sunlenca, in combination with other antiretrovirals, has been granted approval by the FDA for the treatment of HIV-1 infection in adults with multi-drug resistant HIV-1 infection. The twice-yearly treatment is the first and only approved capsid inhibitor-based HIV treatment option.7
In November 2022, Gilead announced that the European Commission granted expanded marketing authorization for Biktarvy for the treatment of HIV in children who are at least two years of age. The approval applies to all 27 member states of the EU, as well as Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein.8
Investing in Healthcare with LIFE ETF
The Evolve Global Healthcare Enhanced Yield Fund (TSX Ticker: LIFE), LIFE ETF, is one simple way to access some of the world’s largest healthcare companies in one single investment solution. For more information about LIFE ETF or any of Evolve ETF’s lineup of exchange-traded funds, please visit https://evolveetfs.com/life/.
LIFE ETF PORTFOLIO STRATEGY AND ACTIVITY
For the month, Novo Nordisk A/S made the largest contribution to the Fund, followed by Sanofi SA, and Stryker Corporation. The largest detractors to performance for the month were Bristol-Myers Squibb Co, and CSL ADR.
On the last rebalance, these securities were added to the portfolio: Gilead Sciences, Inc. and Stryker Corporation. By weight, the Fund’s largest geographic exposure was to the United States, followed by Germany, and Britain.
For the latest information on investing in healthcare and updates on related investment products, sign up for our weekly newsletter here.
- McCarthy, S., “China ‘under-representing’ true impact of Covid outbreak, WHO says,” CNN, January 6, 2023; https://www.cnn.com/2023/01/05/china/china-covid-outbreak-who-data-intl-hnk/index.html.
- Ritchie, H., Gan, N., McCarthy, , Wang, S.,and Zhang, M., “Leaked notes from Chinese health officials estimate 250 million Covid-19 infections in December: reports,” CNN, December 23, 2022; https://www.cnn.com/2022/12/23/china/china-covid-infections-250-million-intl-hnk/index.html.
- “GOSH patient receives world-first treatment for her ‘incurable’ T-cell leukaemia,” Great Ormond Street Hospital, December 11, 2022; https://www.gosh.nhs.uk/news/gosh-patient-receives-world-first-treatment-for-her-incurable-t-cell-leukaemia/.
- “FDA Approves Once-Weekly Wegovy injection for the Treatment of Obesity in Teens Aged 12 Years and Older,” Drugs.com, December 23, 2022; https://www.drugs.com/newdrugs/fda-approves-once-weekly-wegovy-obesity-teens-aged-12-years-older-5949.html.
- “FDA Approves New Drug Treatment for Chronic Weight Management, First Since 2014,” U.S. Food & Drug Administration, June 4, 2021; https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-new-drug-treatment-chronic-weight-management-first-2014.
- “Novo Nordisk Receives FDA Approval of OZEMPIC® (semaglutide) Injection For the Treatment of Adults with Type 2 Diabetes,” Novo Nordisk, December 5, 2017; https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/novo-nordisk-receives-fda-approval-of-ozempic-semaglutide-injection-for-the-treatment-of-adults-with-type-2-diabetes-300567052.html.
- “Sunlenca® (lenacapavir) Receives FDA Approval as a First-in-Class, Twice-Yearly Treatment Option for People Living With Multi-Drug Resistant HIV,” Gilead Sciences, Inc., December 22, 2022; https://www.gilead.com/news-and-press/press-room/press-releases/2022/12/sunlenca-lenacapavir-receives-fda-approval-as-a-firstinclass-twiceyearly-treatment-option-for-people-living-with-multidrug-resistant-hiv.
- “European Commission Grants Expanded Marketing Authorization for Gilead’s Biktarvy® for the Treatment of HIV in Pediatric Populations,” Gilead Sciences, Inc., November 29, 2022; https://www.gilead.com/news-and-press/press-room/press-releases/2022/11/european-commission-grants-expanded-marketing-authorization-for-gileads-biktarvy-for-the-treatment-of-hiv-in-pediatric-populations.