The Readout Damian Garde

Lilly pulls back the insulin pricing curtain (a touch)

Both political pressures and widespread public discontent are taking their toll on insulin makers. In response, one of them, Eli Lilly, just disclosed some pricing data for one of its top diabetes drugs, Humalog. 

Lilly claims the price it was paid for Humalog has fallen 8.1 percent over the past five years, after factoring in rebates and other such discounts. The net price, then, for the Lilly drug is now $135 per patient per year — down from $147 in 2014. However, the average list price has increased 51.9 percent to $594 per patient per month. 

Lilly, like many other drug makers, argues that although list prices are rising, the portion paid in rebates and discounts is rising faster. So, by that logic, the onus of the drug pricing quagmire falls on the shoulders of the middleman.

Read more.

Will Biogen and Eisai keep pursuing Alzheimer's in tandem?

Will Biogen and Eisai push forward with their Alzheimer’s disease partnership? The answer’s unclear, in the wake of the high-stakes aducanumab failure. 

Eisai announced Friday that it plans to press ahead with another Alzheimer’s candidate, called BAN2401, which is also part of its Biogen partnership. 

But is Biogen along for the ride? According to STAT’s Adam Feuerstein, the company had a notably cautious reply. 

Read more.

The economics of esketamine 

Esketamine offers an important new tool to treat depression — but is it cost-effective? The proposed price would have to be shaved 25 percent to be economical, according to a new ICER report. The Johnson & Johnson nasal spray, which will be sold under the trade name Spravato, will have a list price of $590 to $885 per treatment — with a potential yearly tab of nearly $50,000. 

(One journalist figures the cost of a comparable drug would cost a fraction of this amount if acquired streetside, but her editor would be unlikely to pass detailed information along to readers.) 

Read more.

Potenza becomes ... Werewolf?

Startup Potenza Therapeutics was acquired this past winter by the Japanese drug maker Astellas for a cool $165 million. Now much of Potenza's staff is back but under a new umbrella: Werewolf Therapeutics. The cancer immunotherapy company, whose technology remains under lock and key, broadly reveals that it’s working on “more targeted drugs that target immune activators to the tumor — and this is going to be in a very different way than anyone’s done before.” 

As we await a more comprehensive explanation of the science, we wonder: Why the lycanthropic moniker?

“They come up with weird names,” laughed one scientific adviser. “Potenza was a tire, man.”

Read more. 

More reads

  • An Alzheimer's drug trial gave me hope. Then it ended. (New York Times)
  • FDA rejects Sanofi and Lexicon's Type 1 diabetes hopeful Zynquista. (FiercePharma)

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


Monday, March 25, 2019


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