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The Readout

You may not see prices in your drug ads, after all


As the Trump administration vows to force drug makers to put prices in TV ads, the industry has a different proposal: Google it.

Dozens of pharma companies have promised their future commercials will “direct patients to information about medicine cost to help them make more informed health care decisions,” PhRMA President Steven Ubl said yesterday. That means pointing people to a page on the company’s website that “will include the list price of the medicines, as well as an estimate or range of potential out-of-pocket costs and available patient assistance,” Ubl said.

But that’s not going to satisfy the Department of Health and Human Services, which hours later proposed a new rule that would require prices be disclosed. PhRMA thinks that's a violation of the First Amendment, and it's quiet likely this is all headed for court.

Read more.

A pharma watchdog strikes a deal with pharma


When pharma companies complain about ICER, the unelected watchdog group that weighs in on whether drugs are cost effective, they often point to its funding sources, which include perceived enemies of the industry. Now, ICER is considering a program that would allow drug makers to count themselves among its funders by buying the group’s services directly.

And that, STAT’s Ed Silverman points out, has some people concerned about the nonprofit’s reputation. In many other countries, determining whether drugs are cost effective is the job of the government. In the U.S., ICER fills that void, and a cozier relationship with manufacturers could cast doubt on its rulings.

“We do not question ICER staff’s integrity, but it is very hard to not grow to like your clients,” Bernstein analyst Ronny Gal wrote in a note to investors. “This funding mechanism is, respectfully, inherently problematic for an organization whose mission is to become the fair arbiter of drug value.”

Read more.

Is biotech going to recover?


Biotech just keeps sinking. Last week, the closely watched XBI index turned negative for the year, and then it fell fractionally further yesterday, joining the broader market in a swoon that has proposed fresh new challenges for CNBC’s graphics department.

On the one hand, the XBI fared worse as recently as April, and then came an all-time high in August. But on the other hand, a very similar pattern emerged back in 2015, and that gave way to costly correction that took more than a year to shake off.

So what’s going to happen this time? Fill in the blank: On Jan. 1, 2019, the XBI will be _______.

higher
lower

Think of Hong Kong biotech like a restless ‘newborn’


That’s according to Jonathan Wang, the founding partner of OrbiMed’s China operation, who isn’t alarmed by the faltering performance of the first biotech companies to go public in Hong Kong.

Three companies have pulled off IPOs since Hong Kong loosened its listing rules earlier this year, and each has lost more than 10 percent of its value in the ensuing trading. That may seem like a bad omen for the nascent market, but Wang, in an interview with Pharmacube translated by Endpoints, is calling for patience.

“None of the greatest movies we know start with a happy scene,” he said, pivoting from parental imagery to film theory. “It’s common to see the protagonist fall 50 floors from a 100-story skyscraper. I believe brilliant plots are yet to come.”

More reads

  • How the Navy brought a once-derided scientist out of retirement — and into the virus-selling business. (STAT)
  • Alnylam won't seek quick FDA nod for second RNAi drug. (Xconomy)
  • How genetic sleuthing helped a kidnapped girl recover her identity. (New York Times)
  • Science cities, stealing IP, and hyper-competition: a China hand’s intelligence briefing. (STAT Plus)

Thanks for reading! Until tomorrow,

Megan

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

STAT

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