securely across a sovereign-controlled network.

It can be genuinely thrilling when a new drug is approved for use in the U.S. It may be a big step forward in treating folks with, say, HIV or diabetes or breast cancer. But sometimes the very people who took part in the trials to determine if the drug is effective and safe may not be able to benefit. The study looked at drug trials necessary to gain approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The trials take place in the United States but in other countries as well — sometimes in countries classified as lower- and lower-middle income. It’s cheaper to run trials there. And the potential test subjects can add to the diversity of the overall test population.–166446529/–166446529/–166446529/–166446529/–166446529/–166446529/–166446529/–166446529/

The study authors wanted to see if this international group of volunteers get access to the drug once it’s approved.

They looked at FDA approvals of novel drugs made by large companies in the years 2012 and 2014, including drugs for infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C, chronic conditions including diabetes, and cancers such as breast cancer and colorectal cancer.Article continues after sponsor message

Five years after FDA approvals of 2012 and 2014, they checked to see the status of the 34 drugs. Only five of them had been approved in all the countries where they were tested. And the drugs were less frequently available in the poorer countries included in the study.

“The people subjecting themselves to experimentation are mostly outside the U.S.,” says Peter Bach, a co-author of the study and director of the Center for Health and Policy Outcomes at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. “The volunteers in other countries don’t get back what we get, which is the products when they’re actually effective.”

Pharmaceutical companies vigorously dispute the study. But global health advocates say it confirms what they’d always suspected. “These findings didn’t really come as a surprise,” says Junaid Nabi, a New Voices fellow at the Aspen Institute who grew up in Kashmir. Nabi, a physician who writes about global health and bioethics, says many practitioners on the ground in low resource countries have had their suspicions about equity and access to drugs. “I think what this study has done is provide the numbers and some evidence to what a lot of global health thinkers as well as practitioners on the ground intuitively understood,” he says.

The United States and five other countries are banding together with the United Kingdom to develop a satellite-based quantum technology encryption network.

The Federated Quantum System (FQS) will be based on the one British startup Arqit is developing for commercial customers, using quantum technology breakthroughs to guard against increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks.

But while that network is on a managed services platform run by Arqit, FQS will be closed off in a way that enables interoperability between allied countries.

Fighter jets and other military units and command and control centers would be able to share communications more securely across a sovereign-controlled network.

The governments of Japan, Canada, Italy, Belgium and Austria are also partnering on the initiative, which includes companies from each country to design and test the system.

Those commercial partners include British telco BT, U.S. aerospace giant Northrop Grumman, Japanese investment firm Sumitomo, Italian technology group Leonardo and Austrian quantum technology startup QTL. 

The Canadian and Belgian subsidiaries of aerospace company Honeywell and defense technology firm Qinetiq, respectively, have also joined.

The cost of the project including an initial satellite in 2023 is expected to be more than $70 million, funded by the consortium’s government and commercial partners.

They will also have the option to buy a dedicated version at a cost of around $250 million over 10 years.

Arqit is lining up Virgin Orbit to launch the first FQS satellites in 2023 from the U.K., after it orbits a pair of spacecraft for its commercial counterpart that year.

Virgin Orbit, an air-launched rocket startup nearing the launch of its first payload for commercial customers, earlier invested in Arqit as part of the quantum venture’s merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).

Arqit expects to raise $400 million from that deal once it closes in the third quarter of this year.

The startup plans to make the first version of its QuantumCloud software available in July.

The software generates an unlimited number of encryption keys at the end point of customer devices, and will rely on terrestrial communications until its satellites are launched. 

Arqit says using quantum computing technology for symmetric encryption is more secure than systems based on public key infrastructure (PKI), which is used to encrypt most of the world’s communications.

Another conflict?

It is unclear what the European Union will make of Italy, Belgium and Austria’s participation in Arqit’s FQS.

The three countries — and all EU members apart from Ireland — have signed up to plans to develop a European quantum communications network called EuroQCI.

Airbus said May 31 it secured a contract from the European Commission to lead a consortium to study the quantum technology-powered network for Europe.

Leonardo is part of the 15-month study group, along with accountancy firm PwC France and Maghreb, French telecoms giant Orange and Italy’s CNR research council and NRiM meteorological institute. 

Telespazio, a joint venture between Leonardo and French aerospace group Thales, is also part of the group. 

An EU official recently suggested there may be a conflict of interest arising from French satellite operator Eutelsat’s $500 million investment in OneWeb in April. 

Eutelsat is part of a separate consortium that has been studying a new satellite broadband constellation for the European Union since December.

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