This week’s Innovation Partners BioBlog provides a recap of key company news from the JPM Health Conference. GSK is changing direction and adding to its cancer drug pipeline, while Eli Lilly and Co has indicated it will not, for the time being, pursue CAR-T and gene therapy. Hospitals began complying with the ruling to post prices but critics contend that the result is indecipherable for the average consumer. This and more top stories in this week’s edition of the Innovation Partners BioBlog.
With Tesaro in the bag, GSK’s cancer pipeline is pumping again, CEO says
GlaxoSmithKline has reversed course and begun shoring up its cancer pipeline. New CEO Emma Walmsley is changing direction from her predecessor, who traded most of the company’s oncology assets to Novartis. Walmsley has now almost doubled their immuno-oncology pipeline with no signs of stopping. GSK just agreed to purchase Tesaro for $5 billion to obtain the oncology-focused biotech company.
JPM need-to-know, Part 2: Launch woes, crossed fingers, a ‘bulletproof’ FDA review and more
The JPM Health Conference has opened and with it much anticipation for talks from the CEOs of GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, Johnson and Johnson, Clovis, Mylan, and many others. Artificial intelligence, immunology, and oncology are at the forefront of the discussions along with updates on company finances, future expansion plans and much more.
With pivot to less-rare diseases, Alexion needs a new sticker-price plan, CEO says
Alexion, known for targeting ultra rare diseases, is shifting to a new goal: targeting rare diseases. With this change, the company recognizes it must reset its pricing strategy accordingly, said Alexion chief Ludwig Hantson. The shift will increase their patient pool, which means the pricing strategy must change. The company plans to target diseases such as ALS and multiple sclerosis, among others.
FDA creating innovation office to speed drug development
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced via a video link at the JPM Healthcare Conference the launch of a new FDA office to speed drug development. Gottlieb stated that the FDA can leverage improved understanding of biomarkers and other advances to build tools that take some of the risks and costs out of drug development. Gottlieb outlined a plan to make drug development more of a scientific discipline with the new approval process. The concept is to take some of the predictive guesswork out of drug development, which adds to the cost of new medications.
Think Generics Will Lower the Cost of Chemo? Think Again
Chemotherapy drugs are increasingly expensive, with a price tag of $100,000 per patient per course of treatment not uncommon. And although many chemotherapy drugs are going off patent, generics may not bring the price down. A study focusing on Gleevec, a famously expensive chemotherapy drug, found that the generic was only slightly less expensive than the brand name drug.
Hospitals Must Now Post Prices. But It May Take a Brain Surgeon to Decipher Them.
Hospitals are now posting their prices in order to comply with a Trump Administration ruling. But the prices are nearly impossible for the layperson to decipher, with complex names and abbreviations that make apples-to-apples comparisons difficult. The data has turned into an incomprehensible mess of names and prices that cannot be deciphered by patients, negating the goals of the original ruling.
A revolutionary drug that could treat a rare and devastating disease is prohibitively expensive. But one state has a plan to pay for its potential $5 million price tag.
Although a treatment has been developed for the rare disease known as spinal muscular atrophy, the treatment comes with a hefty price tag: $5 million. Massachusetts is taking steps to allow insurers to pay for treatment with a payment plan. Novartis’s AveXis unit, which makes the gene therapy, Zolgensma, and has suggested a price tag of up to $5 million could be appropriate, is in talks to participate.
Lilly eyes more cancer deals, but wary of CAR-T, gene therapy
Although Eli Lilly and Co continue to add cancer drugs to their portfolio, they are not pursuing the areas of gene therapy or CAR-T. Lilly purchased Loxo Oncology for $8 billion, the largest acquisition in the company’s history. Loxo specializes in targeted cancer therapies.