Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
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Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
Pharmaguy curates and provides insights into selected drug industry news and issues.
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Roche’s Genentech Taps Morgan Freeman for Stand Up to Cancer PSA Ad & Social Media Campaign

Roche’s Genentech Taps Morgan Freeman for Stand Up to Cancer PSA Ad & Social Media Campaign | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

Roche's Genentech and partner Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) have enlisted one of Hollywood’s most famous voices for a new cancer PSA. Actor Morgan Freeman, along with cancer survivor Tonya Peat, star in TV and print ads that celebrate the progress against cancer but also encourage people to get involved in clinical trials, screenings and prevention.

The new PSAs with Freeman are an extension of Genentech and SU2C's co-created education campaign “Be the Breakthrough,” launched in May. The new push includes a social media component that asks people to share their stories on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #CancerBreakthrough.

Roche may need all the star power it can get as it steps into the next-generation cancer ring with its drug Tecentriq, which is up against Bristol Myers-Squibb's Opdivo and Merck's Keytruda.

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23andMe Gets $50 Million from Genentech for DNA Data It Collected Without FDA Approval

23andMe Gets $50 Million from Genentech for DNA Data It Collected Without FDA Approval | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

Despite setbacks from regulators, 23andMe is attracting serious interest from heavy-hitters in the pharmaceutical industry. The ambitious genetics startup has received a first payment of $10 million from biotech company Genentech in exchange for genetic data donated by customers of 23andMe’s personal genome service. Forbes reportsthat the Silicon Valley company — which is partly backed by Google Ventures — can look forward to additional payments of "as much as $50 million," with Genentech reportedly planning to dig out anonymous individuals from the company's database for further study.


For 23andMe, the investment is a lifeline. In late 2013, the company was banned from selling its only public product — the saliva test kits — after they were judged to to be in violation of the FDA’s marketing guidelines. Late last year, a stripped-down version became available in the US, with raw genetic information — but none of the contentious health reports. Some members of the medical community seized upon the ban as proof that 23andMe’s mission to make genetic testing available outside the doctor’s office was misguided. However, by this point the company had attracted some 800,000 customers, three-quarters of whom consented to have their data used anonymously for medical research. It’s this information that is now being sold on for use in for-profit medical research to keep 23andMe afloat.

Pharma Guy's insight:

23andMe, in conjunction with Genentech, launched the "Spit for Cancer" campaign, which aimed to collect spit to find out why people respond differently to Avastin -- Genentech's expensive (up to $100,000 per year per patient) drug for the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer, among others. For more about that, read "Spit for Research: Will Genentech's Online Promotion Succeed?"

In November, 2013, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent a WARNING letter to the CEO of 23andMe because the company is illegally marketing its 23andMe Saliva Collection Kit and Personal Genome Service (PGS). 

"This product," says FDA, "is a device within the meaning of section 201(h) of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. 321(h), because it is intended for use in the diagnosis of disease or other conditions or in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, or is intended to affect the structure or function of the body." 

Aside from 23andMe's lack of response to FDA, Anne Wojcicki, CEO of 23andMe, may have pissed off the FDA with her combative stance viz-a-viz fighting the regulators for the sake of preserving the "customer experience."

Seriously... is fast but unreliable results the best customer service?

Read "FDA Orders 23andMe to Immediately Discontinue Marketing 'Spit for Cancer' Kit"

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