Happy New Year! In this issue of the Innovation Partners BioBlog, we focus on the five top stories to watch in 2020 plus updates on new breast cancer treatments. Surprise billing, high drug prices, and the debate over Obama Care continue to lead news coverage for the health industry. Read more in this edition of the BioBlog.

Innovation Partners Weekly BioBlog Jan 2, 2020

Five health care fights to watch in 2020

The Hill covers five top stories to watch in the new year. These include the continued battle over drug pricing, the fight against so-called “surprise billing,”; the quest to keep — or eliminate — Obamacare; the Democrat’s “Medicare for all” mantra; and vaping and e-cigarettes. These are stories the Innovation Partners BioBlog has covered in 2019 and will continue to follow in the new year.

How Congress’ surprise billing compromise fell short

Months of debate ended without agreement on a “surprise billing” compromise that many anticipated would come out of December meetings in Congress. Surprise billing has been an issue that both Republicans and Democrats agree should be addressed. Still, neither side of the aisle could come to a compromise in December on a bill that would address the topic of surprise medical charges from out-of-network providers.

Partners HealthCare aims to bring care closer to home, lower costs

Partners HealthCare announced four state-of-the-art outpatient centers in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The new centers will offer both specialty services such as orthopedics and behavioral health, with smaller centers providing integrated services. Larger sites will include ambulatory surgery and full imaging services. The group aims to offer lower-cost treatment closer to where their patients live. One center in Westwood will be an extension of an existing site, with new sites built in Woburn, Westborough, and Salem, New Hampshire.

AstraZeneca, Daiichi notch blockbuster FDA nod for breast cancer med Enhertu

AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo have received the FDA go-ahead for a new treatment for patients with difficult-to-treat breast cancer. Enhertu has been approved in the US for HER2-positive unresectable, or metastatic breast cancer following two or more prior anti-HER2 regimens. The new treatment launches with a price tag of $13,300 per month.

Enhertu (trastuzumab deruxtecan) approved in the US for HER2-positive unresectable or metastatic breast cancer following two or more prior anti-HER2 based regimens

AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo Company, Limited (Daiichi Sankyo) today announced that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Enhertu (fam-trastuzumab deruxtecan-nxki) for the treatment of adult patients with unresectable or metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer who have received two or more prior anti-HER2 based regimens in the metastatic setting. This indication is approved under Accelerated Approval based on tumor response rate and duration of response. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in a confirmatory trial. Enhertu is an HER2-directed antibody-drug conjugate (ADC), and the FDA approval is based on the results of the registrational Phase II trial DESTINY-Breast01 of Enhertu (5.4mg/kg) monotherapy in patients with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer. All patients received prior trastuzumab, trastuzumab emtansine, and 66% had prior pertuzumab.

Democrats to put renewed focus on health care in new year

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi vowed to focus Democratic efforts on health care in the new year. Republicans remain critical of the House-passed drug pricing bill, which critics say suppresses innovation by artificially reducing costs. President Trump supports a more nuanced, modest bipartisan bill that does not include a provision to negotiate costs.