Well, in this case, two companies are better than one. Pfizer and IBM are collaborating to develop a remote monitoring solution for patients with Parkinson’s disease. A system of sensors, mobile devices, and machine learning will produce a steady stream of information to be used by clinicians and researchers to adjust treatment decisions and learn more about the disease. Pfizer and IBM will be consulting with an advisory board comprised of patient groups, advocacy groups, clinicians, and researchers to help guide the program. A remote monitoring solution of this kind will open new doors for data collection in patient care and clinical research. More data. Fewer office visits. Faster and cheaper trials. Everybody wins.
ICYMI: Britain is holding a referendum on June 23 to decide whether or not to leave the European Union. There are lots of feelings on both sides, but now a group of senior-level European Oncologists have added their two-cents, arguing that a Brexit could put European cancer patients at risk. The group wrote in the May edition of Lancet Oncology that continued collaboration and data sharing among EU countries is vital to the UK’s strength in cancer research and care, arguing that isolation policies and formal borders are not good for science. UK scientists also receive a great deal of EU cancer research grants, which the Guardian reports Britain would not be able to generate on its own.
4.Slimming down for beach weather, Diiachi Sankyo is shedding staff for the summer, and the foreseeable future. In a move to streamline operations, the Japanese-based pharmaceutical giant has brought together its US-based commercial and development divisions into one consolidated facility in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. Daiichi reports that the marriage of facilities marks an effort to increase pipeline collaboration and efficiency across several therapeutic areas. But don’t forget the backstory. The move comes on the heels of an announcement of a 1,200-employee lay-off from its US commercial operations branch- largely due to Daiichi’s top selling drug recently faced with generic competition. And so we see Daiichi’s attempt to make lemonade out of financial lemons.
Each election cycle it is common to hear people say, “Every vote matters.” This election, particularly the voting in California, matters a little bit more to Pharma. According to a Politico article, a ballot initiative in California is seeking to give the state the ability to negotiate drug prices, or at least pay no more than the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Feeling pricing pressures from all sides, it seems likely that, if passed, this initiative would set a precedent for other states to follow. Pharma, currently struggling with consumer backlash, is looking to fight this initiative with the help allies such as patient advocacy groups, veterans’ organizations and the California NAACP.
Over 15 million Americans that regularly use Prevacid, Prilosec, Nexium, Protonix, and Aciphex for quick relief of heart burn and acid reflux, may have a bigger issue on their hands. CNN reports the results of a new study shows that users of these medications, known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), are at a huge increased risk of kidney failure. By huge, we mean a 96% increased risk in developing kidney failure and a 28% increased risk of chronic kidney disease over those who use the alternative histamine H2 receptor blocker medications. With research backing the idea that PPIs are overprescribed and overused, and a study suggestion that use should be cut back, we could see a higher demand for the H2 blocker alternatives.
LabCorp, Covance and INC Research – combined, does this equal a new, full-service giant in the drug services space?Bloomberg reports there may not be enough synergy with Covance’s lab services for LabCorp to get their money’s worth. Bloomberg was clearly distracted by a squirrel and missed the point. The potential deal’s strategic value isn’t in the labs business. The value comes from adding INC’s Phase II/III development capabilities; an historical weakness in the Covance business. Now, LabCorp may have maxed out its credit card for the Covance takeover but that’s a different issue. It will be interesting to see what unfolds as they balance debt with the search for a partner that appeals to their stakeholders.
Who cares that the NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (NBI) is down more than 14% in 2016? Not VCs. According to the MoneyTree™ Report from PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and the National Venture Capital Association, based on data provided by Thomson Reuters, approximately $1.8 billion was invested in biotech companies, representing 118 deals. This represents an 11% increase in dollars and a 19% increase in deals, compared with 4Q2015. But the devil is in the details. First-time funding in 1Q was down 29% in dollars and 37% in deals. For now this is good news as VC firms seem to be backing companies they have already invested in. This will allow development projects to move forward, which is good news for larger biopharmaceutical companies (they need the compounds) and for CROs and CMOs.
Mother always said, “You can lead a horse to free data but you can’t make him analyze it.” A recent study by the editors of The Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that few academic institutions and small biopharma firms make use of clinical trial data made available by large pharmaceutical companies. The Journal noted that, while centralized databases are bringing together more and more results from a wide variety of clinical trials, analyzing existing data in new and different ways can be costly. Further, data gathered for one purpose might not meet the endpoints of subsequent studies. These results may lead some to reassess the value of the initiative against the administrative and I.T. costs of participation.