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Hello, everyone, and how are you today? We are doing just fine, thank you, although moving a bit slower than usual and apologize for the delay. Sometimes, life intrudes. Nonetheless, we are gathering steam this morning as we attempt to tackle our to-do list, which seems to grow by the minute. We trust you can relate. So to cope, why not join us for a cup of stimulation? Meanwhile, here are some tidbits. Hope you have a successful day …

The US Senate Special Committee on Aging Thursday holds its second hearing on prescription drug prices and plans to focus on two drug makers that were run by Martin Shkreli — Turing Pharmaceuticals and Retrophin. At both companies, Shrkeli oversaw a strategy to buy older medicines and then significantly raise prices. Among those scheduled to testify are former and current Turing executives, although not Shrkeli.

GlaxoSmithKline says Andrew Witty will retire as chief executive in March 2017. Investors have pressured the drug maker to replace him due to a lagging stock price, sluggish US sales, and lingering concerns over a bribery scandal in China that led to a $500 million fine. Witty has attempted a turnaround by reorganizing, a move that involved swapping its cancer drugs unit to Novartis for a vaccine business, as well as forming a consumer health joint venture.


Amgen won a significant victory after a jury Wednesday ruled two patents on its new injectable cholesterol drug are valid. The decision is a setback for Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. Amgen filed a patent-infringement suit against the companies to prevent them from selling a rival PCSK9 inhibitor treatment. Sanofi and Regeneron say they will appeal, although Wall Street analysts expect a settlement will be reached and Amgen will receive a sales royalty.

One-third of Americans believe doctors are mainly responsible for widespread abuse of prescription painkillers, which nearly matches the number who blame users, according to a new poll by STAT and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. And only 10 percent blame drug makers, which have been accused of downplaying risks in numerous lawsuits.


Valeant Pharmaceuticals lenders are starting to demand new terms that could further pressure the drug maker, Reuters reports. Two days ago, the company revealed it would not meet a March 15 deadline for filing its annual financial statements with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, which means it could default on more than $30 billion in debt.

McKesson, the big wholesaler, is laying off 1,600 employees, or about 4 percent of its US workforce, to cut costs after losing some key customers, Bloomberg News reports.

Johnson & Johnson chief executive Alex Gorsky received a nearly 5 percent drop in his compensation last year, to $23.8 million, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Novartis is having trouble getting doctors to prescribe its new Entresto treatment for heart failure and has missed sales targets, MarketWatch tells us.

An Illinois psychiatrist was sentenced to nine months in federal prison and ordered to pay nearly $600,000 for accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks from drug makers, MedScape reports.

The Food and Drug Administration approved a Bayer therapy called Kovaltry for hemophilia A, the most common form of the illness, about three weeks after European regulators approved the drug, Reuters writes.

The UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence rejected an Amgen drug for melanoma that has spread and can’t be surgically removed due to uncertainty over its effect on survival, Pharma Times says.