ICER Weekly View: January 11, 2019

From the desk of David Whitrap

Good morning, everyone. This week’s JP Morgan Healthcare Conference brought us some big M&A deals, promising clinical trial data, and a slight (okay, very slight) improvement toward gender balance among the executives who presented.

Let’s take a brief look at the news…

Pharmaceutical News

On the heels of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s announced bid to purchase Celgene, Eli Lilly announced it’s own plan to purchase Loxo Oncology, a company that has focused on developing cancer treatments that target a tumor’s genetic markers regardless of where in the body the tumor is located (Wall Street Journal).

Eli Lilly to Buy Loxo Oncology in $8 Billion Deal

Eli Lilly is buying Loxo Oncology to expand the biopharmaceutical company’s cancer-treatment portfolio.

Among all the #JPM2019 excitement, Sage Therapeutics announced positive Phase 3 data on its once-daily pill to treat women with postpartum depression (STAT).

Sage Therapeutics pill improves postpartum depression in key clinical trial

S age Therapeutics is expecting to win its first U.S. drug approval in March for an intravenous infusion to treat women with postpartum depression. On Monday, the biotech announced arguably better news: The next drug in Sage’s pipeline – a more convenient, once-daily pill – achieved its main antidepressive goals in a pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial of women suffering from the same disease.

The Wall Street Journal described Bluebird Bio’s desire to sell its potential gene therapy on a five-year installment plan. (Of course, even if the total cost is spread out over a period of time, ICER would still like the eventual price to align with the therapy’s ability to improve patients’ lives.)

Biotech Proposes Paying for Pricey Drugs by Installment

A Boston-area biotech says it may have a found a way to bring off the expected seven-figure cost of its experimental gene therapy: paying on installment.

And how could #JPM2019 be complete without Jamie Dimon himself weighing in on the state of the healthcare industry? The JP Morgan CEO spoke to pharma execs about his company’s partnership with Amazon and Berkshire Hathaway to control health care costs (CNBC).

JP Morgan’s Dimon hosted a private dinner for pharma executives, and a major topic was Amazon

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon hosted a private dinner for pharmaceutical executives on Sunday night, ahead of the bank’s health-care conference in San Francisco. There was one company not in attendance that received a lot of attention: Amazon.

Away from the conference, a new analysis suggests that annual price increases on existing drugs — as opposed to the emergence of new treatments — is the primary reason behind the significant year-over-year increase in prescription drug spending between 2008 and 2016. Keep in mind, however, that we’re talking about the wholesale acquisition cost of these drugs, before rebates or discounts (NPR).

Prescription Drug Costs Driven By Manufacturer Price Hikes, Not Innovation

The skyrocketing cost of many prescription drugs in the U.S. can be blamed primarily on price increases, not expensive new therapies or improvements in existing medications as drug companies frequently claim, a new study shows.

Fed up with the rising costs, new California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order outlining several techniques that could help the state negotiate better drug prices (Reuters).

New California governor tackles drug prices in first act

(Reuters) – Hours into his new job, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order on Monday that could dramatically reshape the way prescription drugs are paid for and acquired in the most populous U.S. state.

Louisiana is taking the next steps in its plan for a Netflix-inspired subscription model where the state would pay a single lump sum so that all people within the state’s Medicaid program and prison system would gain access to hepatitis C treatment over the next five years (STAT).

Louisiana proceeds with ‘Netflix’ subscription model to buy hepatitis C drugs – STAT

A fter months of consideration, Louisiana officials are proceeding with plans for a so-called Netflix payment model for obtaining hepatitis C treatments at an affordable price. Specifically, the state is seeking drug makers that would be willing to supply treatments in return for subscription-based payments.

Over at Kaiser Health News, reporter Shefali Luthra describes her allergy to peanuts, as well as the hope and remaining unknowns offered by the forthcoming treatments (which ICER is currently reviewing).

Will I Always Face The Threat Of A Peanut-Laden Kiss Of Death?

Whenever I see a report touting possible new peanut allergy treatments, I devour it. I can’t help it. It’s an occupational hazard for any health journalist whose reporting specialty and medical history intertwine. I write about the business of health care, focusing on how consumers interact with the system – what we pay, what we get and why American care costs so much.

And STAT News suggested that one of these companies focused on treating peanut allergy, Aimmune, may be experiencing some FDA delays due to the ongoing government shutdown.

Shutdown has Aimmune waiting on FDA on multiple fronts

Among other issues, a review of the company’s experimental treatment to protect people against peanut allergy is in FDA limbo.

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