Our roundup of the week's pharma news...
Around 250 digital health apps launching daily
According to a report from IQVIA, 90,000 new health-related mobile apps were added to app stores in 2020 - equating to an average of 250 per day.
The report states that while the average quality of the apps is "middling", it is improving.
Many of the new launches are for apps related to general wellness and fitness, there is a growing trend for apps related to specific health conditions. Mental health, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease apps make up around half of the specific condition apps.
COVID-19 vaccinations open up for 16- and 17-year-olds
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) now advises that all 16- and 17-year-olds receive their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
The JCVI has reviewed the latest safety date from the UK as well as other countries, to assess extremely rare but serious side effects in younger age groups. The benefits of the vaccine are believed to outweigh the risks in this age group.
While COVID-19 is typically mild or asymptomatic in most young people, it is not without its challenges, as well as the risk of transmitting the virus to others. PHE expects one dose of the vaccine to provide good protection against severe illness and hospitalisation.
NHS fund of £340m for 'innovative' treatments
NHS England has announced a new Innovative Medicines Fund (IMF) to fast-track access to new treatments, including cutting-edge gene therapies.
The fund, worth £340m, would be an extension of the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF), which was designed to provide access to promising cancer treatments while further data to support long-term cost-effectiveness was gathered.
The IMF will operate in a similar fashion, extending the original model to other patients, including those with rare and genetic diseases.