Friday, May 12, 2017

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.

Price's tour de pricing

Later today, HHS Secretary Tom Price meets with PhRMA and other biopharma industry groups — his fifth stop in a "listening tour" on drug pricing. In the past two weeks, he's also met with patient advocacy organizations and health policy think tanks.

Among the topics to come up: insurance plan structures, pricing transparency, and efforts to get more generics to market.

So far, the tour's been getting positive reviews. Price "truly did want to listen to us," Lisa Skutnik, president of the MS Coalition, told STAT's Kate Sheridan. “They were very attentive, good questions, and it didn’t feel like a dog and pony show."

Is a genetic database a trade secret?

It's been nearly four years, but the Supreme Court ruling that Myriad Genetics can't bogart BRCA gene variants still reverberates.

Myriad has long been secretive about its data, having never revealed the algorithms it's used to interpret genetic testing results. And as STAT's Sharon Begley reported last year, since losing its patent on the genes, the Utah diagnostics company has aggressively sought to undermine competitors by questioning the validity of their results.

Last year, four Myriad customers filed a complaint with HHS and the ACLU, asking to see their personal data. Myriad did give them their raw data, but the clinical interpretive records have been a sticking point, since they rely on the data of other customers. Giving that out might compromise Myriad's market advantage.

Science lays all this out in a new article examining Myriad's campaign to keep its genetic database secret. It's worth a read.

Sponsor content by Cell & Gene Exchange

STAT’s Damian Garde moderates patient advocate partnering panel at Cell & Gene Exchange

Biotech reporter Damian Garde will speak with patient groups and biotech executives about partnering best practices at Cell & Gene Exchange May 22. The event takes place in Washington, DC, May 22–23. Leaders from patient advocacy groups, industry, academia, and government will explore partnership opportunities, exchange ideas, and network with the goal of advancing development of potentially curative therapies. STAT readers save $100 on registration with code STATnews. Find out more.

Petitioning for fewer biosimilar competitors

Here's one way to ward off biosimilar competition: Keep the approval standards super tough. 

Aspiring biosimilar manufacturer Apotex filed a citizen's petition earlier this month asking the FDA to set high standards when reviewing biosimilars. Specifically, the company wants the FDA to require that biosimilar companies test their drugs on actual patients, instead of running (much easier and cheaper) trials on healthy people only.

It's not unusual for branded drugmakers to file these sorts of complaints, but rarely does a generic make such a move.

Read more on STAT Plus.

Just $7,500 for a Venter check-up now

Human Longevity is looking to expand the market for its Health Nucleus program: Rather than offering an eight-hour, $25,000 delve into a customer's every biometric, the J. Craig Venter operation is now offering a pared-down version for a mere $7,500. He wants to open up clinics worldwide.

Read more on STAT Plus.

More reads

  • Ten hot-button issues FDA's new commissioner will face. (RAPS)
  • Guardant Health raises $360 million in race to create cancer blood tests. (Forbes)

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Thanks for reading! Until next week,

Damian & Meghana

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