Top of the morning to you, and a fine one it is. A warm sun is shining here on the Pharmalot campus, where the shortest person has left for the local schoolhouse and the official mascots are snoozing contentedly on the official Pharmalot office furniture. As for us — yes, you guessed it — we are quaffing cups of stimulation as we forage for items and watch the foliage out our windows. As for you, here are the tidbits. Have a lovely day, everyone …
The 21st Century Cures bill may be in doubt now that congressional Democrats are pushing for the legislation to address high drug prices, The Hill writes. A coalition of liberal groups, including the AFL-CIO, last week sent a letter to both chambers demanding action on drug prices. Until now, the legislation, which is designed to speed development of new medicines, has garnered Democratic support with added funding for medical research.
Cardinal Health is the latest drug wholesaler to warn that the slowing pace of branded drug price increases, and lower generic drug pricing, was hurting financial results, the Wall Street Journal reports. The wholesaler says it faces a “very challenging” environment, as drug makers react to criticism of high prices and pharmacies shop among distributors for the best generic prices. Drug Channels looks at a similar warning from McKesson.
Pfizer has ended development of its cholesterol medicine, known as bococizumab, because the treatment was losing efficacy over time in lowering LDL, or bad cholesterol. The drug, which is a PCSK9 inhibitor, also displayed a higher level of immunogenicity and higher rate of injection-site reactions than similar medicines. The company also cited the “evolving treatment and market landscape” for cholesterol drugs. The PCSK9 drugs have been off to a slow start.
A former Insys sales rep accused of paying kickbacks to induce doctors to write prescriptions for fentanyl claims he has a constitutional right to continue smoking marijuana so he can remain clear-headed for his defense, Reuters tells us. Lawyers for Jeffrey Pearlman asked a federal judge to modify his bail conditions so that he can continue using marijuana that was prescribed to him by a doctor to help him kick his opioid addiction.
Facebook is targeting a bigger slice of the billions of dollars the pharmaceutical industry spends each year on advertising, STAT reports. The social media site is working to build up “community pages” that bring together users who all share a particular medical condition and will also let drug makers block comments on the pages used to promote specific products.
Brazil, China, India, and South Africa have asked the secretariat of the World Trade Organization to review a report on access to medicines that was released recently by the United Nations. In particular, they want the WTO to place an item on the agenda for a meeting next week to discuss the balance between intellectual property rights of the pharmaceutical industry and health needs for people in poor or low-income countries.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals was cited as the best place to work in a survey last spring of nearly 6,000 scientists by Science. The company took the top spot thanks to innovation, a commitment to being socially responsible, and a clear vision toward the future. The runner-up was Novo Nordisk, although recently announced cutbacks, due to pricing pressures on its diabetes drugs, may lead to a change in its ranking next year.
High prices have kept lifesaving drugs out of reach for many people in India due to limited biosimilar competition, market dynamics, and regulatory measures that have failed to improve access, the Economic Times writes.
The US Food and Drug Administration gave fast-track review status to a Novartis drug called ribociclib as a first-line treatment for postmenopausal women with advanced breast cancer, Reuters says.
The UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence decided that Merck’s Erbitux drug for head and neck cancer is not cost-effective, PharmaTimes tells us.
Celltrion is seeking European Medicines Agency approval to market its Herceptin biosimilar in Europe and plans to seek approval of the drug, called Herzuma, in the US, the Korea Times writes.