Discussions in the news this week circle around CAR-T payments, PBM rebates, and whether or not the Trump Administration will continue voluntary payment models. A new blockchain healthcare initiative demonstrates how the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, and healthcare can work together for improved tracking and outcomes. And the ESMO Breast Cancer Congress is underway in Berlin, Germany, with exciting new research and announcements from the world of healthcare. This and more in this week’s Innovation Partners BioBlog.


CMS proposal would boost CAR-T payments

The CMS proposed boosting payment chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy (CAR-T.) The therapy is effective, but expensive, and insurers have balked at paying for it. There are currently two treatments on the market, both with list prices ranging from $373,000 to $475,000. The proposed inpatient payment rule would increase the maximum add-on payment from 50% of the estimated costs of the treatment to 65%, resulting in a hike from $186,500 to $242,450.
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PBM executive: Industry has been discussing end of rebates for a ‘long, long time’

Experts say that although pharmacy benefits managers have been vocal with their complaints against the Trump Administration for suggesting that rebates end, the industry has been quietly discussing the end of rebates for some time. Some PBM executives have said they would actually prefer to end rebates but continue the practice to remain competitive.
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Verma: Trump administration mulling mandatory payment models

Seema Verma, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator, recently said that while the Trump administration has focused on voluntary payment models, that is likely to change. Verma said launching mandatory payment models is vital to avoid selection effects that can skew data on how well they’re working. CMS has launched new voluntary bundled payments, primary care models, updates to accountable care, payment models for drugs and other value-based arrangements.
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Indiana University Health, WakeMed testing blockchain to track specialty prescriptions

Indiana University Health and Raleigh, North Carolina-based WakeMed Health & Hospitals have teamed up with blockchain and pharmacy companies to better track specialty prescription drugs. Blockchain-based systems create an immutable, permanent and time stamped record. Healthcare blockchain company Rymedi and Zebra Technologies’ Temptime, a developer of temperature monitoring devices for the healthcare industry, will work with the health systems as well as Good Shepherd Pharmacy and the Center for Supply Chain Studies and the Global Health Policy Institute to test the application of blockchain and internet of things technology to monitor specialty medication distribution across supply chains. The program begins testing in August.
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Continuous Chemotherapy Improves Outcomes and Quality of Life in Advanced Breast Cancer [ESMO Press Release]

Continuous chemotherapy shows greater benefit in patients with advanced breast cancer by both improving survival and maintaining quality of life compared to intermittent scheduling, according to analyses presented at the ESMO Breast Cancer Congress in Berlin, Germany. The phase III study randomised 420 patients with advanced HER2-negative breast cancer to either an intermittent schedule (four cycles – ‘treatment holiday’ – another four cycles) or a continuous schedule comprised of the same eight cycles administered consecutively. Both first line treatment (paclitaxel plus bevacizumab) and second line treatment (capecitabine or non-pegylated liposomal doxorubicin) followed these schedules. These analyses report on secondary endpoints from the Stop&Go study, with the main endpoint for second-line being progression-free survival (PFS).
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Mateon and Oncotelic Complete Their Merger and Create a New Immuno-Oncology Company with a Late-Stage Clinical Asset Against Cancer and a Promising Product Pipeline

Mateon Therapeutics, Inc. and Oncotelic Inc. announced today that they have completed their previously announced merger. The combined company has a focused pipeline of TGF-β RNA Therapeutics for late stage cancers, including gliomas, pancreatic cancer and melanoma.
In connection with the merger, Oncotelic, Inc. has become a wholly owned subsidiary of Mateon. The merger creates a publicly-traded clinical stage immuno-oncology company developing treatments for advanced cancers including aggressive brain tumors, pancreatic cancer, and melanoma. Phase 2 clinical data on lead product candidate OT-101 demonstrated robust tumor responses including complete responses and long-term survival in several patients with aggressive brain tumors. The company plans to initiate multiple Phase 3 registration trials of OT-101 in high-grade gliomas and pancreatic cancer.
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