3. The rapid spread of telemedicine

Sniffles getting you down? Maybe it’s finally time to drag yourself to the doctor…or not. Instead, you can pick up the phone or sit down at your computer and contact any number of available services for remote medical care. It’s called telemedicine and it’s on the rise. The number of virtual doctor visits and general awareness of telemedicine services are growing. Nearly three-quarters of large employers now offer telemedicine benefits, compared to only 48% in 2015. However, many challenges still remain. Quality concerns, reimbursement concerns, and the state-specific regulatory system are potential question marks for patients, providers, and the system as a whole. While the powers that be hash out these issues, we’ll be looking forward to not sitting in germ-filled waiting rooms during cold and flu season.

4. Britain, Brexit, and the pharma fallout

If demographic stereotypes hold, drug company employees in the UK probably voted to remain in the EU. Makes sense. Conventional wisdom holds that remaining would have been better for business. Now that the vote has gone the other way, a task force of drug company CEOs and government officials has been put together to combat problems such as uncertainty, added complexity and potential drug approval delays. Several large-scale concerns are on the table.  Will British patients have to go to the back of the line, behind the EU, for new medicines? Will Britain need to recreate its own regulatory body for the approval and regulation of medicines? Only (a long) time will tell.

5. Keep your enemies closer

Teva wants in the club. PhRMA, to be exact. Some existing members of PhRMA want the world’s largest generics company to take a long walk off a short pier. Probably something to do with the long, ugly history of patent challenges. AbbVie EVP, Carlos Alban, for one, wrote Teva’s membership would dilute PhRMA’s emphasis on innovation. Teva touts its more than $6 Billion in branded revenue as evidence to the contrary. And here’s another problem for those throwing shade on Teva’s application… PhRMA’s membership already includes companies with substantial interests in generic products (see Novartis / Sandoz, Pfizer / Hospira, and others). We think PhRMA will have a difficult time denying Teva’s application. But we also think the welcome dinner may be poorly attended.

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.

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!

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.