This week’s Innovation Partners BioBlog focuses on the business of healthcare. The CVS-Aetna merger is complete, and experts are watching eagerly to see how the company uses the CVS chain for its planned community-based healthcare initiatives. The FDA has approved a new biosimilar, Rituxan, and Tocagen and NRG Oncology plan to collaborate on a Phase ⅔ trial of Toca 511 and Toca FC for glioblastoma. These and other stories in this week’s BioBlog.

CVS Pharmacy news featured in Dec 9 edition of Innovation Partners BioBlog

CVS closes $69B acquisition of Aetna in a ‘transformative moment’ for the industry

It’s official – CVS has closed the $69 billion acquisition of Aetna. The new company plans a community focus, using the CVS chain as its launching point for locally-based healthcare initiatives. Aetna sold for $212 per share, and with CVS assuming Aetna’s debt, put the total cost at $78 million. All eyes are now watching the new company to see the direction of the new, groundbreaking company.
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Tocagen and NRG Oncology to Collaborate on a Phase 2/3 Trial of Toca 511 & Toca FC in Newly Diagnosed Glioblastoma

Tocagen, a late clinical-stage, cancer-selective gene therapy company and NRG Oncology, a member of the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) National Clinical Trial Network (NCTN), today announced that the NCI Cancer Therapy and Evaluation Program (CTEP) Brain Malignancies Steering Committee has approved a concept to develop a clinical trial utilizing the investigational therapeutic regimen Toca 511 (vocimagene amiretrorepvec) & Toca FC (flucytosine, extended-release) for the treatment of patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma (GBM). The proposed NRG-BN006 trial will be the first clinical trial of the Toca 511 & Toca FC regimen in the newly diagnosed GBM setting.
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FDA approves first biosimilar to Roche cancer drug Rituxan

Celltrion Inc’s Truxima on Wednesday became the first biosimilar to Roche Holding AG’s $7-billion-per-year cancer drug Rituxan to be approved in the United States to treat non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The approval reflects the FDA’s push towards biosimilars to combat rising drug prices.
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Celgene Corporation Announces Initial Phase 1/2 Liso-cel Data in Patients with Relapsed/Refractory CLL, Including Those with High-Risk Disease, Previously Treated with Ibrutinib, at ASH 2018

Celgene Corporation announced initial data from the dose-escalation part of an ongoing, open-label multicenter phase 1/2 study of investigational lisocabtagene maraleucel (liso-cel; JCAR017) in patients with relapsed/refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL), including patients with cytogenetic features of high-risk disease, who were previously treated with ibrutinib. The data were presented by Tanya Siddiqi, M.D. in an oral presentation at the 60 [th] American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting and Exposition in San Diego, C.A. (Abstract #300).
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Express Scripts’ Miller says Washington at incredible moment on drug pricing

The Trump Administration proposed allowing Medicare Part D pharmacy drug plans to be more selective on branded drugs from among six special therapeutic classes. Pharmacy benefits managers welcome the proposed changes, expressing relief that the administration respected their role in the system. PBMs believe they can be advocates for lower drug prices.
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CMS Proposes Drug Reimbursement Changes Under Medicare Part C and Part D

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a proposed rule pertaining to Medicare Part C and Part D—two areas of the Medicare program where reforms are being considered as part of the Administration’s “blueprint to lower drug prices and reduce out-of-pocket costs.” Provisions under review include direct and indirect remuneration, maintaining protected drug classes, and restrict or prohibit “gag clauses.”
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