Trending News Today: Importance of Immunotherapy in the Spotlight

Top articles of the day from across the health care landscape.

Merck & Co signed a deal to acquire the biotech company Afferent Pharmaceuticals with an upfront payment of $500 million and milestones of up to $750 million, reported The Wall Street Journal. Afferent’s primary focus is on targeting the P2X3 receptor for neurogenic conditions, and their leading drug candidate is currently being evaluated for the treatment of refractory chronic cough and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis with a cough.

On Thursday, the Justice Department’s watchdog reported that the federal prison system is relying too much on outside physicians and hospitals, resulting in overspending on medical care for inmates. According to The New York Times, an inspector general report revealed the likelihood that the Bureau of Prisons has spent a minimum of $100 million more on outside medical care in the 2015 budget year than the Medicare rate. There were 69 prisons analyzed for the report and all of the facilities paid reimbursement rates higher than those paid by Medicare.

Immunologist Jim Allison’s discovery of harnessing the immune system to better treat cancer came to fruition after a decade, reported NPR. The drug ipilimumab (Yervoy) is sold by Bristol-Myers Squibb, who acquired it from Medarex in 2009. In 2015, Allison was the recipient of the prestigious Lasker Award for achievements in medical science. Although each patient’s cancer case is different and the treatment won’t work in everyone, it still shows huge promise in some patients who do not respond well to other therapies. “It might be too early to say we’re going to cure cancer, but we’re going to cure certain types of cancer.” Allison said. “We’ve got a shot at it now.”