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Good morning, everyone, and welcome to another working week. We hope the weekend was relaxing and invigorating because the usual routine has returned. And the usual frenetic pace is heightened thanks to a medical meeting for cancer researchers and a biotech conference. So time to swill a cup of stimulation and dig in. Here are some tidbits. Hope your day goes well and do keep in touch …

The annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology — a sort of Woodstock for cancer researchers — is underway, and various clinical trial results are being reported. So here are dispatches concerning treatments being developed by Roche, Bristol-Myers Squibb, AbbVie and Johnson & Johnson, plus a study on aromatase inhibitors and a discussion of the promise in combining immune agonists with checkpoint inhibitors.

The expanded use of combination treatments for such maladies as multiple myeloma poses a dilemma for insurers and patients due to higher prices, the Wall Street Journal writes. Adding Johnson & Johnson’s Darzalex to an older combination of two medicines proved effective in a trial, but the total cost — based on list prices and dosing in the study — would be at least $180,000 a year.


Prices for cancer treatments are less affordable in low- and middle-income countries than in the US, STAT writes about a new study. Affordability was calculated as a percentage of per capita gross domestic product needed to pay for a month’s supply of the median-priced drug. Cancer patients in Australia pay 71 percent of their monthly economic output for a month’s supply, 313 percent in India, 286 percent in China, and 192 percent in the US.

A Teva Pharmaceutical hydrocodone painkiller deters people who might try to crush, snort, or inject the drug to get high, but it remains unclear whether the pill would be better at preventing oral abuse, Bloomberg News tells us. A US Food and Drug Administration panel meets Tuesday to decide whether to recommend the drug, called Vantrela ER, and a Pfizer pill will be reviewed by the same panel on Wednesday.


The Global Health Innovative Technology Fund reached deals with several companies to research and develop drugs for neglected diseases. The fund is a public-private partnership between the Japanese government, several drug makers, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, and the United Nations Development program. The latest partners include Otsuka Pharmaceutical, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, and Fujifilm.

Federal prosecutors added new charges accusing Martin Shkreli of conspiracy for allegedly using employees and consultants to conceal his control of stock in Retrophine, a drug company he once ran, Bloomberg News reports. Last December, Shkreli was arrested for securities fraud charges in which prosecutors claimed he backdated documents, hid records, and ran the drug maker and a hedge fund like a Ponzi scheme.

The pace of job-hopping among biotech execs in the Boston area is accelerating, due to scientific breakthroughs, venture capitalists bankrolling startups, and Big Pharma setting up shop, the Boston Globe says.

A Mylan Pharmaceuticals biosimilar was equivalent to Roche’s Herceptin breast cancer treatment in a study of 500 patients, the Wall Street Journal writes.

The FDA reported that “a large number of patients” have suffered severe burns and scars after using a migraine headache patch sold by Teva Pharmaceuticals.

A Maryland appeals court ruled that Pfizer is not liable as an “apparent manufacturer” of Insulag, an asbestos-containing cement made by a company it acquired, Bloomberg News says.