With Teva topping the list, Israeli firms tackle health issues

Have heartburn after eating a late-night falafel sandwich? There’s a pill for that. Did a cough morph into a chest infection? You’ll probably need antibiotics. There’s a good chance that the medicine you take for those maladies, and a whole host of other ailments, comes from an Israeli company or research lab. In fact, the world’s largest producer of generic drugs is Israeli drug-making giant Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. 

 

“One in seven prescriptions filled in the U.S. are filled with a Teva drug,” said Denise Bradley, vice president of corporate communications for Teva Pharmaceuticals-Americas.

With subsidiaries and production facilities across the U.S. and Canada, the Petah Tikvah-based company provides North Americans with the bulk of their generic drug stock.

 

In 2012, the Israeli company announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved QNASL, its new nasal spray to treat allergy symptoms. The product is just the latest in the repertoire of medications that have made Teva a worldwide success. The company is also growing in influence financially and politically as it continues to produce both generic and brand-name drugs in the U.S.  market.

But Teva is far from the only Israeli-owned firm providing health benefits to  North Americans (or getting ready to do so).

BiondVax Pharmaceuticals, headquartered in Ness Tziyona, Israel, is one of the leading labs working on a universal flu vaccine designed to provide multi-season and multi-strain protection against most human influenza virus strains. The company will be conducting studies with MonoSol Rx in New Jersey to allow the vaccine to be administered by mouth.

Two therapeutic vaccines against cancer are under development in Israel. The makers of Vaxil BioTherapeutics’ ImMucin say it can be tailored to treat 90 percent of cancers by activating and enhancing the body’s immune system to seek and destroy cancer cells present in the body. The treatment causes no side effects and can be taken indefinitely. ImMucin could be on the market in five years.

Vacciguard, another Israeli biomed startup, is introducing a technology for developing vaccines against cancer and a wide range of other diseases that currently have no effective treatments.                  

Herceptin, a frequently prescribed drug for blocking the chemical signals that stimulate uncontrolled growth of breast cancer cells, is one of an advanced class of pharmaceuticals that must be administered together with chemotherapy. But 2-year-old Immune Pharmaceuticals is developing a “guided missile” system, licensed from the Hebrew University, which encloses thousands of chemotherapy molecules inside an antibody nanoparticle. The drug payload isn’t released until reaching the cancerous tissue.

Framingham, Mass.-based Dune Medical Devices, a product of Israel’s Misgav Venture Accelerator, has received pre-market approval from the FDA for MarginProbe, its trademarked system that uses electromagnetic waves to identify possibly cancerous tissue on the edges of a breast tumor.   

MarginProbe is meant to improve on the current rate of 30 percent to 60 percent of women who must undergo secondary breast cancer surgery after a lumpectomy because the initial surgery failed to get rid of all cancerous tissue at the margins of the tumor.

The novel Israeli medical device IceSense3, made by Caesarea-based Ice-Cure Medical Ltd, is being used by  American doctors to destroy benign breast lumps by freezing them. A leading Japanese breast surgeon has begun clinical trials using the minimally invasive, ultrasound-guided procedure to successfully obliterate small cancerous tumors as well. Similar trials will soon begin in the United States.

Numerous other Israeli biotech and pharmaceutical startups have products under development that could positively impact the well-being of Americans in the not-too-distant future.

(Reporting by canadian jewish news.)

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