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The Readout Damian Garde

Hospitals are shelling out more for immunotherapy

Cancer immunotherapies increasingly account for a sizable chunk of hospital drug payments, according to a new study.

As STAT's Ed Silverman reports, there was a 199% rise in immunotherapy spending by hospitals during the first three-quarters of this year, as compared to the same time period of the previous year, per Lumere, a research and analytics firm that focuses on hospitals and generated the data from 26 facilities across four hospitals systems. Merck’s Keytruda ranked especially popular. 

Migraine treatments, meanwhile, are also making up a larger portion of hospital spending — there was 90% growth in spending in the category, which has generated substantial interest thanks to a pair of new drugs that were launched last year.

Read more.

ASH is in full swing

STAT's Adam Feuerstein spent the weekend working at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology in Orlando. If you were offline or otherwise not paying attention, here’s your chance to catch up.

On Saturday, Adam wrote about BCMA-targeted immunotherapies for multiple myeloma, the impact that socioeconomic factors are affecting clinical trial outcomes and an update on a sickle cell gene therapy. Check out the highlights here

Yesterday, his science-heavy dispatch covered the potential for a pill to cure sickle cell disease, a company turning stem cells into cancer killers and the marketing battle between two giant BTK blockers. That one is available right here.

Who'll pay for the sickle drugs? And who will take them?

At long last, we have a pair of cutting-edge treatments for sickle cell disease. But a major question lingers: Who will get access to them? 

The New York Times takes a gander at this question, pointing out that the disease itself is not exactly rare: There are about 100,000 people with sickle cell in the U.S., and millions more around the world. Yet the Global Blood Therapeutics drug Oxbryta, as well as Novartis’s Adakveo, both will cost around $100,000 a year. 

It’s unlikely insurers will cover all sickle cell patients who might want to take these drugs. And, beyond that, there are questions over adherence. Still, the issue is another reminder of how debates over drug-pricing have real-world implications.

Making stem cell transplants a little easier

Hematopoietic stem cell transplants have huge potential in treating cancers, rare genetic disorders, and even autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis. But in order to receive a new infusion of stem cells — such as bone marrow — patients have to undergo an extremely toxic conditioning regimen. Typically, that means intense chemotherapy. 

Conditioning winds up being the limiting factor in which patients can undergo these stem cell transplants. A new startup called Jasper Therapeutics is developing new conditioning agents that might even be safe in extremely ill or weak patients. 

The Stanford spinout just launched with a $35 million Series A round.

More reads

  • J&J fronts $750 million to grab a failed cancer drug that's been repurposed as an anti-inflammatory drug. (Endpoints)
  • Alzheimer's accelerator announces six more award winners. (FierceBiotech)

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,

Damian

Monday, December 9, 2019

STAT

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