This week’s Innovation Partners BioBlog takes a look at several important stories. California Governor Newsom announced a plan to work with generic drug makers to lower costs of medications for residents. New therapies for ovarian cancer and high cholesterol are in the works. A look at the potential 2020 mergers and acquisitions field makes an interesting prediction for the new year. Highlights from the JPM20 conference provide a glimpse into the emerging stories of the week.

Innovation Partners Weekly BioBlog for Jan 20, 2020

California seeks to become first state with own generic drug label in bid to lower prices

California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) unveiled a series of proposals this week aimed at lowering drug prices. Included in Gov. Newsom’s list: generic drugs just for Californians. The proposal details plans for the state to contract with generic drugmakers to produce medications for state residents. How many would be produced and which ones would be selected remains unclear. The state, which has almost 40 million residents, saw generic drug prices rise by 37.6% over a three-year period. The impact of Gov. Newsom’s plan on drug prices may be minimal because the drug label proposal doesn’t address the underlying causes of generic price increases.

FDA starts speedy review of Lynparza plus Avastin in ovarian cancer

AstraZeneca and Merck & Co/MSD’s PARP inhibitor was granted a priority review by the FDA for a combination regimen for first-line maintenance therapy for ovarian cancer. The new regimen is based on the results of the PAOLA-1 study, which involved advanced ovarian cancer patients who have responded to first-line treatment with platinum-based chemotherapy and Avastin. The results showed that there was a 41% lower risk of their disease progressing or death for Lynparza plus Avastin maintenance therapy compared to Avastin alone. Progression-free survival (PFS) was extended to 22.1 months from 16.6 months with the addition of AZ and Merck’s drug. Two years after the trial started, 46% of patients treated with Lynparza added to Avastin showed no disease progression, compared to 28% of patients taking only Avastin.

JPM: Novartis teams up with NHS England in ‘world-first’ access deal for PCSK9 hopeful inclisiran

Novartis has unveiled a new partnership with the British government to make cholesterol-reducing drug inclisiran available for high-risk cardiovascular disease patients. The drug remains unapproved. Novartis acquired the drug prior to its takeover of MedCo, the originator of inclisiran. Novartis hopes their drug poses a threat to PCSK9 drugs Repatha, from Amgen, and Praluent, from Regeneron and Sanofi.

With $1.4 trillion on tap, healthcare will be deal city in 2020—and Big Pharma won’t drive it all

A look at mergers and acquisitions in the healthcare industry suggests that 2020 may be as strong for M & As as 2019. In 2019, the industry saw $357 billion worth of deals. Medtech and biotech are expected to see more activity this year. Last year’s M & A activity was led by Big Pharma. Life sciences companies overall have $1.4 trillion in dealmaking power at their disposal, making it a large and potentially lucrative market for M & As. Deal volume was actually down 19% in 2019 compared to 2018.

How CVS Health is addressing the cost of gene therapies

A new whitepaper from CVS Health addresses a four-point strategy health plans and plan sponsors can adopt to get out ahead of the costs associated with gene therapy. CVS estimates that costs for gene therapies could range from $14.8 billion to $45 billion between 2020 and 2024, depending on how much they proliferate. Products in the pipeline set to launch in that window include gene therapies targeting hemophilia A and B as well as sickle cell anemia. The paper may be downloaded from the CVS site.

JPM20: The latest from day 2 of the biggest conference in healthcare

Highlights from the JPM20 conference include many major announcements. Tenet Healthcare provided an update of its new data “dashboard.” The system features a number of real time data points such as daily volume metrics, payer mix, expense management, quality and safety and more intended to improve efficiencies. Mayo Clinic announced a joint venture with nference, a Cambridge-based augmented intelligence company, to launch Clinical Data Analytics Platform. The new platform leverages emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, connected health care devices and natural language processing. Humana’s chief discussed surprise billing. Other stories are also covered in the full article.