1. Forecast calls for scattered drug hoarding

Providing notice of drug price increases sounds reasonable, right? “Not so simple,” say opponents of proposed California drug pricing legislation that calls for a 60-day notice of price increases.  Opponents of the bill contend this could hang small pharmacies out to dry as larger pharmacies might be motivated to hoard drugs to avoid the higher prices to come. This could leave areas with fewer hospitals and pharmacies in danger of not being able to obtain drugs for patients with chronic illnesses. The bill could set a precedent in a movement to open up transparency across the health care system. But it could also lead to some nasty unintended consequences. Ugh.  Healthcare is hard.

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2. Maybe chill out with the M&As?

A study published in Cell Chemical Biology suggests the number of drug innovators has decreased to World War II levels. Even though 45 novel drugs were approved by the FDA in 2015—higher than average for the past decade—only 95 companies within the biopharmaceutical space drove those developments. We haven’t seen so few companies since before the 1970s biotech boom. The main reason? Mergers and acquisitions. The study attributes at least some of this effect to companies following Valeant-style acquisition strategies where they acquire a company after the early (see: risky) R&D phase, when they have a novel drug product through proof-of-concept. Come on you innovators! Male pattern baldness isn’t going to cure itself!

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3. PARP Inhibitors Equal Bad News for Ovarian Cancer

Tesaro, a MA based biotech, announced it has successfully reached its Phase III endpoint of progression-free survival (PFS) among all of the 490 patients with recurrent ovarian cancer included in the study. The drug niraparib, a PARP inhibitor, proved effective in a double-blind, placebo controlled, international study among women with the BRCA mutation and for women without the mutation as well as those with HRD-positive and HRD-negative tumors. This is great news for the 239,000 women diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year, especially considering the difficulty in catching this disease in its early stages. All in the form of a single, daily, oral dose. Take that, cancer.

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4. DIA: RWD/RWE, HEOR

The Drug Industry Association’s largest conference wrapped up this week in Philadelphia. Thousands of pharmaceutical industry professionals gathered to learn from one another on a variety of topics. One theme that seemed to emerge is the growing momentum behind access to real-world data (e.g. claims, pharmacy, EMR). And it is no wonder, with Quintiles and IMS merging, PAREXEL partnering with Optum, LabCorp buying Covance, and PPD partnering with HealthCore, people are starting to ask a lot of questions. Hype? Promise? Value? Pharma has been running outcomes studies for a long time, but now with access to more complete healthcare records, maybe the time is finally right to really make use of these data.

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5. Pfizer’s new pop-up manufacturing facility

Pfizer announced this past week that they are developing a Global Biotechnology Center in Hangzhou, China.  This $350M investment will be Pfizer’s newest addition to their portfolio of biotechnology centers and reinforces China as a leading area for growth in the healthcare space.  Integral to it all is GE Healthcare’s KUBio modular facility.  GE’s prefabricated modules reportedly cut the build time in half and help the facility reduce CO2, H2O and energy consumption by 75%.  Will these savings be reflected in the pricing of Pfizer’s future novel biologics and biosimilars?  That could help to lessen some of the recent shade thrown on pharma for its pricing strategies.  Not that it’s Pfizer’s responsibility to rescue the industry’s reputation but come on, it’s Pfizer.

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