• French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur has recently agreed to pay back $27.8 million worth of unused anti-dengue vaccines on the request of the Philippine government. This agreement comes on the back of the Philippine government fined Sanofi $2,000 and suspended clearance for the French drug maker’s controversial dengue vaccine Dengvaxia, citing violations on product registration and marketing.

    Concerns over the dengue immunization of nearly 734,000 children aged nine and above resulted in two Philippine congressional inquiries and a criminal investigation as to how the danger to public health came about. The country ordered Sanofi to stop the sale, distribution and marketing of Dengvaxia after the company last month warned the vaccine could worsen the disease in some cases.

  • Appili Therapeutics Inc. has announced it has signed a licence agreement with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) to develop ATI-1701, a vaccine to protect against Francisella tularensis.
    “Francisella tularensis is a very infectious bacteria. A small number (approximately 10 to 50 organisms) can cause tularemia disease.

    If used as a weapon, the bacteria would likely be made airborne for exposure by inhalation. People who inhale an infectious aerosol would generally experience severe respiratory illness, including life-threatening pneumonia and systemic infection, if they are not treated,” said Sean McBride, Vice President, Business Development at Appili Therapeutics.

    Although a vaccine was developed in the former Soviet Union that partially protects against respiratory challenges, it may have limited effectiveness when used in a mass casualty, bioterrorism attack and is currently not approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Various antibiotic regimens are effective as post-exposure prophylaxis and treatment for tularemia and would likely comprise the first line of public health intervention in response to a deliberate release of F. tularensis; however a highly effective vaccine has long been sought after to protect vulnerable populations.

  • The operator of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has said it will resume late this week a survey of the crippled No. 2 reactor using a telescopic arm, hoping to obtain images of melted nuclear fuel.

    In Friday’s survey, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. aims to investigate the area beneath the reactor’s pressure vessel, through which nuclear fuel is believed to have melted. The step is needed to help develop a plan for removing the fuel for the ultimate decommissioning of the plant.

    Tepco, in announcing the move on Monday, said it will insert a 13-meter long pipe at the bottom of the pressure vessel and then deploy a camera at the tip of the pipe to film the bottom of the outer primary containment vessel, where fuel is believed to have accumulated.

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