Monday, May 7, 2018

The Readout by Damian Garde & Meghana Keshavan

Welcome to The Readout, where we keep you on top of the latest in biotech. For more in-depth coverage of biopharma, subscribe to STAT Plus. On Twitter: @damiangarde@megkesh, and @statnews.

Trump takes on pharma. What will he say?

Our commander-in-chief’s communication style can be, ah, tangential from time to time — so the content of his forthcoming speech on prescription drug pricing is a big league question mark. What on earth will Donald Trump say?

The speech, which will be at some point this week, will have major implications for the pharmaceutical industry. Top health officials are saying that Trump’s talk will outline a “comprehensive strategy” that will lead to “profound modernization” in how the government pays for some drugs, STAT’s Erin Mershon writes — but what shows up on the teleprompter and what comes out of the president’s mouth are often two rather disparate things.

“It’s like one of the great parlor games – what will the president say and what will really happen, which are two different things,” Ian Spatz, a former Merck lobbyist who is now a senior adviser at Manatt Health, told STAT.

Read more.

Are Vertex's CF drugs too pricey?

Vertex Pharmaceuticals built its reputation — and its riches — on the success of its line of cystic fibrosis drugs. But a review from the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review says the company’s three drugs that treat this rare, debilitating genetic disorder are exorbitantly priced. 

Vertex’s CF drugs Kalydeco, Orkambi, and Symdeko have price points that hover around the $300,000 mark, STAT's Ed Silverman writes. The company would have to lower the price of these drugs by around 75 percent to be deemed fair, with a price tag around $80,000 — in ICER’s estimation, at least. 

The company is understandably miffed by the report — calling it a “sham,” and that it “relied on flawed scientific methodology.” What say you?

These are important drugs for a rare patient subset. The cost is justified.
Vertex could recoup its research costs, and still make a profit, with a lower price point.

Sponsor content by Neurocrine Biosciences

Neurocrine Biosciences unveils new data from largest real-world screening study of possible tardive dyskinesia patients

It is estimated that at least 500,000 people are suffering from the symptoms of tardive dyskinesia (TD) — a condition associated with prolonged use of antipsychotics for depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia and characterized by uncontrollable, abnormal and repetitive movements in the body, which may be disruptive and negatively impact patients. This week, Neurocrine Biosciences will present new data from RE-KINECT, the largest real-world screening study of possible TD patients, providing insight into the impact of involuntary movements on their quality of life at the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Annual Meeting. Learn more about the data from Neurocrine at APA here.

Belldegrun's shiny new pick

Arie Belldegrun’s new startup wants to tap a savvy new financial chief, STAT’s Adam Feuerstein reports: The billionaire founder of CAR-T powerhouse Kite Pharma is recruiting storied sell-side analyst Eric Schmidt to manage the dollars and cents of his new company, Allogene. 

The company was launched last month with aims to develop an allogeneic CAR-T therapy. Belldegrun, who wasn’t available to comment, is said to have been a longtime admirer of Schmidt, who covered Kite as Cowen’s senior biotech research analyst. Schmidt said he is considering the job offer.

Read more.

U.S. losing its pharma grip

The life sciences sector used to be a U.S.-dominated industry — although it’s gaining more of an international foothold. But biopharma is at risk stateside, thanks to this surge of foreign competition, opines Joe Kennedy, a senior fellow at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

Countries like China, Ireland, Singapore, India, and the United Kingdom are changing up their policies to improve their position in the life science market, Kennedy writes. And that hurts U.S. companies by closing off export markets. 

Read more.

More reads

  • The problem with prescription drug prices. (60 Minutes
  • Patent fights jump in 2017 as Eli Lilly, Pfizer, Sanofi and more sue to protect their meds. (FiercePharma)

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