Open Journal Systems

U.K. Clears Covid-19 Pill, U.S. on the Way

U.K. health regulators cleared a Covid-19 drug, molnupiravir, shown to reduce death and hospitalization in high-risk patients. The drug was developed by a partnership of Merk & Co. and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics after initial invention at Emory University. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is likely to meet later this month to discuss approval for the U.S. market as early as the end of this year. Merk & Co. expects sales of approximately $5 billion from the drug through 2022 and will be licensing the drug to generic companies in India as well as the United Nations-backed nonprofit the Medicines Patent Pool.


Judge Leonard Stark To Be Nominated to the Federal Circuit

President Biden announced Judge Leonard Stark as his nominee for the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Judge Stark currently serves on the United States District Court for the District of Delaware where he has served since 2010 and was Chief Judge from July 2014 to June 2021. Judge Stark will replace Judge Kathleen O’Malley of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuity, who will be retiring March 11, 2022. Judge O’Malley is known for writing pro-patent opinions. This is President Biden’s 62nd federal judicial nominee.

Senate Judiciary Committee Reviews Counterfeiting in Online Marketplaces

The full Senate Judiciary Committee met for a hearing titled “Cleaning Up Online Marketplaces: Protecting Against Stolen, Counterfeit, and Unsafe Goods.” During the hearing, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) presented evidence claiming the sale of illicit products could result in 5.4 million net job losses by 2022. Evidence from the Government Accountability Office was also presented: the office bought a sample of 47 consumer products from third-party sellers on leading e-commerce websites—20 of the 47 products were fake.  Possible solutions like the Inform Consumers Act and SHOP SAFE Act were discussed, but some members of the committee were concerned about the burden they placed on smaller online marketplaces as well as the privacy implications for small sellers.

Stablecoins Attract Regulatory Concern

A Treasury-led panel recommended that Congress impose a new regulatory framework around stablecoins—digital currencies tied to national currencies. The Biden administration also expresses a willingness to regulate stablecoins via the Financial Stability Oversight Counsel if Congress refuses to act; though, regulation via FSOC may be cumbersome and face legal challenges. The Biden administration expressed concern that the “rapid growth of stable coins” could put them in competitions with banks and card networks without adequate protections for users. Stablecoins are currently regulated lightly at the state level, though some stablecoin companies are working to become banks and welcome the development of clearer standards.

Facebook Says Goodbye to Facial-Recognition

Facebook is shutting down it facial-recognition system in the coming weeks after it raised concerns from privacy advocates and regulators. As part of the shut-down, Facebook will delete facial recognition data of more than one billion people. This shutdown follows a $550 million dollar settlement with the state of Illinois last year pertaining to wrongful use of facial recognition technology and a $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission related to privacy practices.