This week, we find many medical and healthcare industry conferences announcing cancellations, postponements, and moves to virtual conferences to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The fear is that healthcare industry attendees may inadvertently return to their workplaces bearing COVID-19 and spread the infection. President Trump has signed a preparedness and prevention bill to apportion $300 million for COVID-19 Medicare response. Drug spending on television ads surged to $200 million and may surpass this figure in 2020. More top stories in this week’s Innovation Partner BioBlog.
CMS Announces New Changes to Respond to Coronavirus: What You Need to Know
President Trump has signed into law Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020. The Act gives the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) the flexibility to quickly support Medicare beneficiaries. Among the announcements are updates to billing, coding and coverage, telehealth and more. When a vaccine for COVID-19 becomes available, all Part D plans will be required to cover it. Hospitals also received updated guidance to identify visitors and patients at risk for COVID-19. Full details are available in the ASCO article.
Zentalis Leads a Trio of Biotechs Charting a Course for Wall Street
Zentalis Pharmaceuticals is preparing for an IPO with its lead candidate in the pipeline testing in combination with a Pfizer drug. The Zentalis pipeline consists of four compounds, three of which are in early-stage clinical testing. Lead drug candidate, ZN-c5, is designed to target estrogen receptors (ER), proteins to which the hormone estrogen binds. Tumors that are ER positive and human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER2) negative rely on these proteins for their growth and survival. Zentalis’s ZN-c5 is an oral drug that’s a selective estrogen receptor degrader (SERD). The compound is in Phase 1/2 testing. Zentalis believes its once-a-day pill offers patients greater convenience.
Pace of medical conference shutdowns is accelerating as the coronavirus outbreak spreads
Citing safety concerns about the spread of coronavirus, many medical conferences are cancelling, suspending, or otherwise changing plans. Some are moving the events online. The Cognitive Neuroscience Society will host its conference online. Data sharing for the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI), for example, will be conducted online. Conferences throughout all industries have been impacted but medical conferences more so as concerns continue about the ramifications of an attendee becoming infected with COVID-19 and unwittingly spreading it into a hospital or other healthcare setting.
Americans will have ‘access to their health information on their smartphones’: Trump admin on HHS rules
The Trump Administration has released new rules that govern how health information may be shared. Patients will now be able to download and view their health information using third-party apps. The two new rules, issued by both the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), implement interoperability and patient access provisions of the bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act. Patient control over health records is a key part of the Trump Administration’s work towards value-based healthcare.
AbbVie, Lilly, Pfizer lead pharma TV spending to roaring start in 2020
Pharma ad buying on television has already hit $200 million, with the top 10 buyers spending $15 million each. AbbVie spent $40 million on television ads for Humira during the first 30 days of the year. Three other drugs spent more than $20 million for the month: Eli Lilly’s diabetes medicine Trulicity, Pfizer and Bristol Myers Squibb anticoagulant Eliquis. Another AbbVie drug, psoriasis fighter Skyrizi, came in fourth place at $20.5 million. Roche flu medicine Xofluza added $17 million for the month. Xofluza was approved in 2018 and launched its first DTC work in October.
FiercePharmaPolitics—Lawmakers battle over pricing restrictions in coronavirus spending bill
While U.S. lawmakers worked to pass emergency coronavirus laws, drugmakers fought against provisions related to pricing. Democrats tried to include certain pricing stipulations, including an ability for the government to remove intellectual property protections for drugs that are priced unfairly. Republicans have already pushed back against the move. The bill, which President Trump signed into law to provide $300 million eventual treatment and prevention options, includes language on “fair and reasonable” pricing for those government purchases.
FDA to review Mylan, Biocon Avastin biosimilar
Mylan N.V. and Biocon Ltd. announced this week that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has accepted Mylan’s biologics license application for MYL-1402O, a proposed biosimilar to Genentech’s cancer drug Avastin, in several forms of cancer. U.K.-based Mylan and India’s Biocon, which are exclusive partners on a broad portfolio of biosimilar and insulin products, said MYL-1402O, if approved, would be the third biosimilar from the partnered portfolio for cancer patients in the U.S. Biosimilar products are the generic equivalents of biologic drugs, which are created from living cells.