Al­ler­gan CEO Brent Saun­ders takes a pric­ing pledge: Preda­to­ry prac­tices must end

Brent Saun­ders, Al­ler­gan

Caught in the lat­est tem­pest over dra­mat­ic price hikes for old ther­a­peu­tics, Al­ler­gan CEO Brent Saun­ders is swear­ing off the prac­tice, vow­ing to main­tain a fair pric­ing pol­i­cy that could well in­spire oth­ers in the busi­ness to fol­low suit.

This pledge in­cludes lim­it­ing Al­ler­gan’s an­nu­al price hikes to mod­est sin­gle-dig­it in­creas­es, and Saun­ders says Al­ler­gan will nev­er again jack up prices with­out a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in costs as prod­ucts near the loss of patent pro­tec­tion, di­verg­ing from a stan­dard in­dus­try prac­tice he ad­mits the com­pa­ny has fol­lowed in the past.

In a blog post to­day, Saun­ders says:

Where we in­crease price on our brand­ed ther­a­peu­tic med­i­cines, we will take price in­creas­es no more than once per year and, when we do, they will be lim­it­ed to sin­gle-dig­it per­cent­age in­creas­es. Our ex­pec­ta­tion is that the over­all cost of our drugs, net of re­bates and dis­counts, will not in­crease by more than low-to-mid sin­gle dig­its per­cent­ages per year, slight­ly above the cur­rent an­nu­al rate of in­fla­tion.

There’s more. Saun­ders says that if the in­dus­try is ex­pect­ed to con­tin­ue to in­vest huge amounts in R&D, there has to be a way to prop­er­ly re­ward in­no­va­tion. Drug re­search, he adds, is done in a frag­ile ecosys­tem that will quick­ly col­lapse with­out ap­pro­pri­ate prices for new ther­a­pies.

“This ecosys­tem can quick­ly fall apart if it is not con­tin­u­al­ly nour­ished with the con­fi­dence that there will be a longer term op­por­tu­ni­ty for ap­pro­pri­ate re­turn on in­vest­ment in the long R&D jour­ney,” writes Saun­ders.

The in­dus­try has been quick to main­tain the same po­si­tion on R&D, not­ing that bio­phar­ma tra­di­tion­al­ly in­vests a rel­a­tive­ly large per­cent­age of its rev­enue in re­search. But Saun­ders com­mit­ment to a spe­cif­ic pric­ing pol­i­cy may take more than a few in­dus­try ex­ecs by sur­prise. Reg­u­lar, dou­ble-dig­it price hikes have be­come a main­stay in the in­dus­try, fol­lowed by all the big play­ers.

That prac­tice, though, has come un­der fire as My­lan, Valeant and Tur­ing have all come un­der fire in the last year for big price hikes on old­er prod­ucts that no one is in­vest­ing in. And the storm of protest has spurred Hillary Clin­ton to of­fer a new plan to rein in drug prices, mak­ing this a po­tent po­lit­i­cal is­sue in the run up to the fall elec­tion.

The in­dus­try lob­by­ing group BIO, mean­while, has de­cid­ed to counter the cur­rent shock­wave by launch­ing an ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paign aimed at high­light­ing the good drug de­vel­op­ers do. These kinds of feel-good cam­paigns about the pos­i­tive as­pects of new drugs, though, aren’t like­ly to even make a dent in the pub­lic rage fo­cused on price goug­ing. I asked BIO’s Jim Green­wood for a com­ment on Saun­der’s plan, but he de­clined to re­spond.

IDC: Life Sci­ences Firms Must Em­brace Dig­i­tal Trans­for­ma­tion Now

Pre-pandemic, the life sciences industry had settled into a pattern. The average drug took 12 years and $2.9 billion to bring to market, and it was an acceptable mode of operations, according to Nimita Limaye, Research Vice President for Life Sciences R&D Strategy and Technology at IDC.

COVID-19 changed that, and served as a proof-of-concept for how technology can truly help life sciences companies succeed and grow, Limaye said. She recently spoke about industry trends at Egnyte’s Life Sciences Summit 2022. You should watch the entire session, free and on-demand, but here’s a brief recap of why she’s urging life sciences companies to embrace digital transformation.

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Merck went in deep on its collaboration with Moderna on new mRNA programs, and dropped them all over time, including their RSV partnership. But after writing off what turned out as one of the most successful infectious disease players in the business, Merck is coming in this morning with a new preclinical alliance — this time embracing a biotech that hopes to eventually outdo the famously successful mRNA in a new run at vaccines and therapeutics.

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Bayer's first DTC ad campaign for chronic kidney disease drug Kerendia spells out its benefits

Bay­er aims to sim­pli­fy the com­plex­i­ties of CKD with an ABC-themed ad cam­paign

Do you know the ABCs of CKD in T2D? Bayer’s first ad campaign for Kerendia tackles the complexity of chronic kidney disease with a play on the acronym (CKD) and its connection to type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Kerendia was approved last year as the first and only non-steroidal mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist to treat CKD in people with type 2 diabetes.

In the TV commercial launched this week, A is for awareness, B is for belief and C is for cardiovascular, explained in the ad as awareness of the connection between type 2 and kidney disease, belief that something can be done about it, and cardiovascular events that may be reduced with treatment.

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James Mock, incoming CFO at Moderna

Mod­er­na taps new CFO from PerkinElmer af­ter for­mer one-day CFO oust­ed

When Moderna hired a new CFO last year,  it didn’t expect to see him gone after only one day. Today the biotech named his — likely much more vetted — replacement.

The mRNA company put out word early Wednesday that after the untimely departure of then brand-new CFO Jorge Gomez, it has now found a replacement in James Mock, the soon-to-be former CFO at diagnostics and analytics company PerkinElmer.

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Kate Haviland, Blueprint Medicines CEO

Blue­print met all its end­points in bid for ex­pand­ed Ay­vak­it la­bel — but stock trends low­er any­way

Blueprint Medicines announced this morning that the second part of its study on Ayvakit in non-advanced systemic mastocytosis (SM) — a rare disease in which a type of white blood cells known as mast cells builds up — met all endpoints, but the biopharma left key questions unanswered.

In 212 patients, with 141 in the treatment arm and 71 in the control arm, patients who got Ayvakit saw an average 15.6-point decrease in their symptom scores compared to a 9.2-point decrease in the placebo arm at 24 weeks. In an extension study, those on Ayvakit saw their symptom scores drop by 20.2 points by week 48.

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Sanofi is officially giving up on its oral SERD.

The French drugmaker put out word Wednesday morning that it will discontinue the global development program of amcenestrant, the selective estrogen receptor degrader once billed as a top late-stage prospect. Having already failed a Phase II monotherapy test earlier this year, a combo with the drug also missed the bar in a second trial for breast cancer, triggering the decision to drop the whole program.

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Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF’s supply division

GSK lands first-ever UNICEF con­tract for malar­ia vac­cine worth $170M

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The vaccine, known as Mosquirix or RTS,S, won WHO’s backing last October after a controversial start, but UNICEF said these doses will potentially save thousands of lives every year.

“We hope this is just the beginning,” Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF’s supply division, said. “Continued innovation is needed to develop new and next-generation vaccines to increase available supply, and enable a healthier vaccine market. This is a giant step forward in our collective efforts to save children’s lives and reduce the burden of malaria as part of wider malaria prevention and control programmes.”

Joe Jonas (Photo by Anthony Behar/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

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Merz kicked off its “Beauty on Your Terms” campaign on Tuesday, featuring the Jonas brother in a video ad for its double-filtered anti-wrinkle injection Xeomin.

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Paul Perreault, CSL Behring CEO

CSL CEO Paul Per­reault de­ter­mined to grow plas­ma col­lec­tion af­ter full-year sales dip

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However, CEO Paul Perreault assured investors and analysts on the full-year call that the team has left “no stone unturned” when assessing options to grow plasma volumes. The chief executive also spelled out positive results for the company’s monoclonal antibody garadacimab in hereditary angioedema (HAE), though he isn’t revealing the exact numbers just yet.