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The Readout Damian Garde

Is pharma's grand bargain a sham?

Are prescription drugs like new cars? And who keeps your DNA safe?

We discuss all that and more on the latest episode of “The Readout LOUD,” STAT’s biotech podcast. First, STAT's Nicholas Florko joins us for a discussion of the Trump administration's efforts to get drug prices into TV ads — and the industry's vehement opposition. And then we talk about why the best-selling drug in the universe is facing competition overseas but retains a monopoly here in the U.S. Kate Black, 23andMe's chief privacy officer, talks to us about genetic data security in the age of Facebook leaks and cold-case surprises.

You can listen to the episode here. And you can expect another episode next Thursday evening — and every Thursday evening — so be sure to sign up on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Clovis has a plan to pry open the PARP market


Competition among a new class of cancer drugs called PARP inhibitors has been a story of pharma’s dominance over biotech. The pairing of AstraZeneca and Merck have consistently outperformed smaller rivals Clovis Oncology and Tesaro, and the gap is only widening.

But Clovis is angling to change those dynamics with its latest data. As STAT’s Adam Feuerstein reports, Clovis’ PARP inhibitor demonstrated a 44 percent tumor response rate in advanced prostate cancer no longer responsive to at least two prior therapies.

The company expects to make its case to the FDA by the end of next year. And if it succeeds, Clovis’ drug would be the first PARP approved for prostate cancer, giving it a shot at catching up with the market leader. Still, not everyone is convinced.

Read more.

Speaking of cancer data

There’s going to be a lot this weekend, what with ESMO, Europe’s answer to the annual ASCO conference, going about its business in Munich. We’re going to learn:

  • Just how well Pfizer’s second-to-last-place checkpoint inhibitor works in kidney cancer
  • Whether Merck’s latest idea in immuno-oncology is showing early promise
  • And the latest on Mirati Therapeutics’ efforts to advance an oral cancer drug

Stay tuned to STAT over the weekend for updates from the conference (or wait until Monday to catch up).

When two weeks of data is worth $300 million

Proteostasis Therapeutics began the day Wednesday as a $65 million company having a hard time convincing the world of its future in treating cystic fibrosis. It ended the yesterday as a $377 million company — up more than 400 percent — after disclosing two weeks of data on just a handful patients.

That’s because the five patients who got the highest dose of Proteostasis’ combination therapy experienced a benefit that’s comparable to what Vertex Pharmaceuticals demonstrated with its market-leading CF combo.

Is 14 days’ worth of data from five people worth $300 million? Arguably not. Will yesterday’s market reaction help Proteostasis, which had just $60 million in cash at the end of the last quarter, raise money on Wall Street in the coming weeks? Almost certainly.

More reads

  • New chemical eyed in the fight against Alzheimer’s. (STAT Plus)
  • 2018's biotech IPO bonanza: view from the after market. (Forbes)
  • Bone Therapeutics is rewarded for clinical failure. (EP Vantage)
  • Novartis buys Endocyte for $2.1 billion, and an outspoken critic admits he was wrong. (STAT)

Thanks for reading! Until next week,


Friday, October 19, 2018


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