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The Readout Damian Garde & Meghana Keshavan

What will Lilly's new Alzheimer's data tell us?

With all eyes on Biogen's controversial Alzheimer’s drug, Eli Lilly earlier this year issued a press release extolling its own amyloid-targeting therapy for the neurodegenerative disease. And next week, the world will see Phase 2 results of its drug, donanemab.

The company has already said the drug met its primary goal, which led to a 32% improvement in cognition and function compared to placebo. But experts want to get their own look at the detailed data. STAT's Damian Garde lays out exactly what they'll be looking for here.

“Everybody has been disappointed time and time and time again, including Lilly,” one Alzheimer’s expert told STAT. “What everybody’s doing is trying to learn from the failures. I think [this study] is particularly innovative, and maybe there’s a lesson there.”

Read more.

Amgen buys Five Prime for $1.9 billion

Amgen yesterday announced a major acquisition, with aims of expanding its footprint in Asia. The deal: $1.9 billion for Bay Area-based Five Prime Therapeutics, whose gastric cancer drug, bemarituzumab, wowed with its clinical data this past fall.

The acquisition is particularly noteworthy given that just a year ago Five Prime’s stock was trading as low as $2.17, STAT’s Matthew Herper writes.

Gastric cancer is particularly prevalent in Asian countries, though it’s not known why — making Five Prime’s drug  promising there. Five Prime already has a collaboration with drug maker Zai Lab to market bemarituzumab in China. 

Read more.

Can pharma get along post-pandemic? 

How will we know when the Covid-19 crisis is over? And is it OK to feel optimistic? 

We discuss all that and more this week on “The Readout LOUD,” STAT’s biotech podcast. First, we discuss Merck's decision to help Johnson & Johnson manufacture vaccine doses and whether it'll be a turning point for the drug industry or a relic of Covid-19 history. Then, as we near the one-year anniversary of the pandemic, STAT's Andrew Joseph joins us to explain what experts think is in store in the months and years to come. Finally, Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, joins us to explain why he's optimistic about summer 2021.

Listen here.

Billions might have been saved with generics

Patients often prefer name-brand drugs, but physicians would do well to not acquiesce. The Medicare Part D could have saved $1.7 billion in 2017 alone, had physicians and their patients opted for copycat drugs, a new study finds. And Medicare beneficiaries would have saved about $270 million out-of-pocket if they’d requested generics rather than brand-name counterparts, a new JAMA Network Open study finds.

Laws exist across the country to encourage the use of generic drugs, but about 30% of the brand-name drugs dispensed that year were due to patient or prescriber request — not medical need. 

Read more.

More reads

  • This L.A. startup is building tiny injectable robots to attack tumors. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Europe blocks 250,000 AstraZeneca vaccine doses bound for Australia. (Sydney Morning Herald)
  • Widely used convalescent plasma treatment doesn't stop COVID-19 patients from getting sicker, study finds. (USA Today)

Thanks for reading! More next week,

Damian

Friday, March 5, 2021

STAT

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