Innovation Partners’ BioBlog looks at the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic. The coronavirus, COVID-19, has swept the world, prompting unprecedented measures here and abroad to prevent its spread and contain the outbreak. Hospitals press Congress to end or pause Medicare sequester cuts; a new FAQ explains what services related to the coronavirus are covered by ACA plans and what may not be. Read on for the top headlines in this week’s Innovation Partners BioBlog.

Innovation  Partners Weekly Curated BioBlog March 22 Edition

Teva and Celltrion Healthcare Announce U.S. Availability of HERZUMA® (trastuzumab-pkrb) for Injection

Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc and Celltrion Healthcare, Co., Ltd. announced that HERZUMA®1 (trastuzumab-pkrb) for Injection, a biosimilar to HERCEPTIN®1, is now available in the United States. HERZUMA is indicated for the treatment of HER2-overexpressing node-positive or node-negative (ER/PR negative or with one high-risk feature) breast cancer, metastatic breast cancer, and metastatic gastric cancer, with some qualifications. Patients should be selected for therapy based on a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved companion diagnostic for a trastuzumab product.

Hospitals press Congress to end or pause Medicare sequester cuts as they brace for coronavirus impact

Hospital groups said last week that Congress should end or pause Medicare sequester cuts in order to help with the coronavirus pandemic. Congress is about to pass a second coronavirus measure, but the measure doesn’t address the 2% cut to Medicare that was installed during the sequester. The American Hospital Association, Association of American Medical Colleges and Federation of American Hospitals voices support to end or pause Medicare sequester cuts.

Blueprint Medicines Announces Part 1 Results from PIONEER Trial Showing Broad Activity of Avapritinib Across Measures of Mast Cell Burden, Clinical Outcomes and Quality of Life in Indolent Systemic Mastocytosis

Blueprint Medicines Corporation, a precision therapy company focused on genomically defined cancers, rare diseases and cancer immunotherapy, today announced updated results from the Phase 2 PIONEER trial of erlotinib in patients with indolent systemic mastocytosis (SM) showing significant clinical improvements versus placebo. Avapritinib showed a statistically significant improvement in patient-reported outcomes, the primary measure of clinical benefit in PIONEER. It was well-tolerated across all three doses. 25 mg QD was selected as the recommended Part 2 dose, based on consistent and clinically important improvements across multiple measures of efficacy and a well-tolerated safety profile.

With pandemic hitting early in the year and threat of recession, COVID-19 may be costly for patients

Patients with high deductibles may be at a significant disadvantage with COVID-19 arriving early in the year. An analysis by the Peterson-KFF Health System Tracker, a partnership between the Peterson Center on Healthcare and the Kaiser Family Foundation, indicates that most people have not spent much yet on healthcare, leaving a high deductible to meet should they require testing or become ill from COVID-19. The overall costs for those with less serious complications or comorbidities could be near $14,000, and those with no complications could see costs of nearly $10,000 for inpatient expenses.

How are pharma supply chains reacting to COVID-19? Without info, it’s hard to tell: analyst

Common sense tells us that the pharma supply chain is under intense strain right now, but analysts cannot be certain just what the impact of the novel COVID-19 virus is on the global pharma supply chain. Lack of transparency makes it difficult for analysts to understand the full impact. Drugmakers are keeping a close eye on China, a country responsible for manufacturing much of the world’s supply of generic and branded drugs.

CMS issues FAQ on what ACA plan benefits cover with coronavirus

A new FAQ has been released detailing what services related to the COVID-19 outbreak are covered under the ACA plan. Medically necessary quarantine and isolation are covered under EHBs, but the cost-sharing and “specific coverage limitations associated with these services may vary by plan,” according to the newly released FAQ. An EHB generally includes coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of the virus but other services covered may vary.