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”?
Maybe you should talk to your doctor to see if a HealthyDose™ of biosimilars is right for you. Side effects include: euphoria caused by an acute awareness of feeling yourself getting smarter, accusations of being a know-it-all by your colleagues, and more euphoria due to objectively knowing you are in fact smarter than your colleagues.
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Back in 2004, Merck had to pull their blockbuster COX-2 inhibitor Vioxx off the shelves. The drug was linked to an increase in heart disease and stroke, and the same doubt has surrounded Pfizer’s COX-2 inhibitor Celebrex (celecoxib) ever since. So, Pfizer conducted a Phase IV study comparing incidence rates of those adverse events compared to ibuprofen and naproxen. Twelve years, a patent expiration, and 24,000 patients later, Pfizer found that celecoxib was at least as safe as ibuprofen and naproxen, if not more so. That’s great news for arthritis sufferers at risk for heart disease and stroke, but Pfizer’s probably a little irritated they ran a massive study to disprove a rumor which likely bit into their Celebrex profits when they had market exclusivity.
Remember when Snapchat turned down Facebook’s $3B offer? Everyone thought it was crazy. Well, maybe not everyone. Apparently Medivation was taking notes. Their rejection of Sanofi’s $9.3B proposal now has it cashing in a fat $14B check from Pfizer. Sure $11 or $12B may have done the job, but $14B in cash ensured there wouldn’t be any counter-offers. What was at stake? Medivation’s promising oncology pipeline which includes its (very successful) prostate cancer drug, XTANDI, which generated ~$2.2B over the past four quarters and has the potential to more than double that. Maybe the lashing Pfizer received that caused the Allergan break-up has made it want to start shopping local, a.k.a. make the US Treasury Dept. happy again.
J&J got a thumbs down from a US district court regarding a patent on its blockbuster drug, Remicade, opening the door for biosimilar entries to the US market. Celltrion and Pfizer’s Hospira have their infliximab biosimilar, Inflectra, ready and raring to go for a launch as early as October 3. The biosimilar is already available in Europe and has been stealing a significant chunk of Remicade sales. However, J&J is planning to appeal the court’s ruling and considers a biosimilar launch prior to the outcome of the appeal to be an “at-risk launch.” Whether Celltrion and Pfizer will take that risk remains to be seen. Also TBD is how formularies will treat the products post-biosimilar entry. Will Remicade be blacklisted in favor of its sure-to-be-cheaper twin?
Ahhhhh, the lure of low corporate taxes. According to The Irish Times, Pfizer will be spending €300-400 million to expand manufacturing capabilities in its legacy Wyeth plant located in Ireland’s capital city. In spite of almost certain future competition from biosimilars, it seems Pfizer expects demand for its biologics to increase, including Enbrel—the Rheumatoid Arthritis blockbuster—and Prevnar—the vaccine for things we can pronounce but not spell. Increasing capacity to manufacture biologics is not quick. Pfizer expects to have the facility operational by 2020.