Last week Pfizer announced they’re shuttering their neuroscience discovery unit, which dedicates resources to the discovery and development of drugs for both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. While the practical and macro implications of the drug giant’s decision may be minimal—don’t forget, more than 99% of these drugs fail before they get to market—seeing a leader “give up” the search will take the wind out of some sails. Especially for patients and advocacy groups. Pfizer appears to be setting itself up for a “buy” rather than “build” strategy, as they are starting a “neuroscience venture fund,” presumably to snatch up products discovered by the many start-ups who will continue to dig for neuroscience gold.
And soon it starts to add up. This week the NIH announced a pretty cool partnership with the private pharma industry. The Partnership for Accelerating Cancer Therapies (PACT) is a five-year public-private research collaboration totaling $215 million as part of the Cancer Moonshot project. 11 pharma companies (AbbVie, Amgen, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Celgene, Genentech, Gilead Sciences, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Pfizer) will contribute $1M each for five years. The NIH will contribute $160 million. The goal: “to identify, develop and validate robust biomarkers — standardized biological markers of disease and treatment response — to advance new immunotherapy treatments.” Sweet. If you want to read what pharma PR folks have been up to you can read their responses here. For the top 10 private-public immuno-oncology collaborations, look here.
Pfizer and Cipla are teaming up with the American Cancer Society and the Clinton Health Access Initiative to provide cheap chemotherapy drugs to six nations in Africa that have been hit the hardest by treatable cancers. They’re taking inspiration from Pepfar, which is the (US) President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, and not a program designed to export pep rallies far across the globe. Pepfar is responsible for many of the 14 million Africans who now have access to HIV medications, and the above collaboration is keen to replicate that kind of success. The drug companies will sell 16 generic chemotherapies at a fraction of what they cost in more well-off countries—minimizing profits, but maximizing positive PR. Needless to say: well done, all involved.
Quick question. How many different “flavors” of J&J’s Remicade can you buy? Currently there are three, but more a coming. You can be prescribed Remicade (2016 sales of $4.45 billion), or Pfizer’s biosimilar Inflectra, or Samsung’s biosimilar Renflexis, and soon you might be able to get it from Amgen or Sandoz. When initially launched, Pfizer’s Inflectra was priced at a 15% discount to Remicade. Then Renflexis recently launched at a 35% discount. Just before the Renflexis launch, Pfizer knocked off another 4% to get to a 19% discount. What does J&J have to say about this? Sales of Remicade have not fallen as much as analysts predicted. Biosimilars are tricky and huge sales are at stake. Stay tuned, these battles are just beginning.
The days of feigning disinterest while an attractive woman passes a pigskin between her hands are over: Viagra and Cialis’ four hours of fame have ended. While the drugs have performed well since launch, they’re getting close to reaching that peak point, after which they’ll immediately fall asleep. We’re talking about the end of their patent exclusivity, of course. While Viagra’s doesn’t officially end until 2020, two generic formulations are approved to hit the market by December of this year, which will lead to some profit shrinkage for Pfizer. Eli Lilly’s Cialis will suffer from the same stiff competition penetrating the ED market, so the companies have pulled out of spending the $50 million they usually use on NFL advertising.
The answer is Beau. How do we know? Because the Cancer Moonshot has been renamed the “Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot” in honor of the VP’s late son who died from brain cancer. Armed with $1.8B in funding, VP Biden recently gave an update on the project. One highlight is how the National Cancer Institute created the Genomic Data Commons, which archives cancer patient data using Amazon’s cloud computing software. Researchers have accessed this information about 80 million times, so that is a lot. In another initiative, companies like AZ, Novartis, Pfizer, and Celgene, just to name a few, are contributing to the Blood Profiling Atlas in Cancer (BloodPAC) consortium. Go team.
Looking to save money on Viagra? (Don’t answer that.) A new commercial states people who text the code “VSAVE” to a Pfizer number will receive a 50% discount on a yearlong supply. Fierce reports that patients who agree to terms and conditions will receive an eCard that would be shown at a pharmacy to get the discount. Terms and conditions? Yes. Part of opting in is agreeing to receive around five sexts a month from Pfizer regarding deals, refill reminders and other program updates. It seems the best way to keep someone’s attention these days is through their phone and Pfizer plans to do just that. If your condition lasts longer than four hours, can you now just text “stop”?