Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (Carolyn Kaster/AP Images)

Arkansas ac­cus­es Eli Lil­ly, No­vo Nordisk, and Sanofi of col­lud­ing to dri­ve up in­sulin prices

Arkansas brought Eli Lil­ly, No­vo Nordisk, Sanofi, and three of the largest phar­ma­cy ben­e­fit man­agers (PBMs) to court yes­ter­day, ac­cus­ing them of col­lud­ing to ar­ti­fi­cial­ly dri­ve up in­sulin prices.

The com­plaint, filed by Arkansas At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Leslie Rut­ledge, al­leges the de­fen­dants de­vised a scheme in which the Big Phar­mas would “ar­ti­fi­cial­ly and will­ing­ly raise their list prices” and then pay a part of those earn­ings back to the PBMs as re­bates.

“These drug man­u­fac­tur­ers and PBMs have in­flat­ed the price of in­sulin and oth­er di­a­betes-re­lat­ed med­ica­tion to line their own pock­ets,” Rut­ledge said in a state­ment.

The PBMs list­ed in the suit — CVS Care­mark, Cigna’s Ex­press Scripts, and Unit­ed­Health’s Op­tum­Rx — con­trol 80% of the PBM mar­ket, which in Feb­ru­ary nar­row­ly dodged a po­ten­tial FTC study on whether PBMs hurt com­pe­ti­tion and dri­ve up health­care costs.

Re­search from GoodRx shows that the av­er­age re­tail price for in­sulin rose 54% from 2014 to 2019, in part due to a lack of com­pe­ti­tion. Rather than al­low­ing com­pe­ti­tion to dri­ve down prices, Rut­ledge ac­cused PBMs of “in­ten­tion­al­ly dri­ving up the price of the at-is­sue drugs.” Af­ter rais­ing their prices, the phar­ma com­pa­nies pay a por­tion of that back to PBMs for be­ing in­clud­ed as a drug op­tion to their clients, the law­suit says.

High prices force some pa­tients to go with­out treat­ment, and back in March the House passed a bill that would cap in­sulin prices at ei­ther $35 a month or 25% of an in­sur­ance plan’s ne­go­ti­at­ed price.

This marks the lat­est in a string of in­sulin law­suits brought against phar­ma com­pa­nies in state courts across the coun­try. In 2017, a class ac­tion law­suit was brought against the same three Big Phar­mas for col­lud­ing to dri­ve up in­sulin prices. More re­cent­ly, in 2018 and 2021, Min­neso­ta and Mis­sis­sip­pi have re­spec­tive­ly filed law­suits against the phar­ma com­pa­nies and PBMs for al­leged­ly con­spir­ing to raise prices.

Ac­cord­ing to the Arkansas law­suit, for the last 15 years, the phar­ma com­pa­nies “have in lock­step raised the prices of their re­spec­tive di­a­betes drugs in an as­tound­ing man­ner, even though the cost to pro­duce these drugs has de­creased dur­ing that same time pe­ri­od.”

Eli Lil­ly, No­vo Nordisk and Sanofi did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ment as of press time.

Op­ti­miz­ing Cell and Gene Ther­a­py De­vel­op­ment and Pro­duc­tion: How Tech­nol­o­gy Providers Like Corn­ing Life Sci­ences are Spurring In­no­va­tion

Remarkable advances in cell and gene therapy over the last decade offer unprecedented therapeutic promise and bring new hope for many patients facing diseases once thought incurable. However, for cell and gene therapies to reach their full potential, researchers, manufacturers, life science companies, and academics will need to work together to solve the significant challenges facing the industry.

Bay­er sounds re­treat from a $670 mil­lion CAR-T pact in the wake of a pa­tient death

Two months after Atara Biotherapeutics hit the hold button on its lead CAR-T 2.0 therapy following a patient death, putting the company under the watchful eye of the FDA, its Big Pharma partners at Bayer are bowing out of a $670 million global alliance. And the move is forcing a revamp of Atara’s pipeline plans, even as research execs vow to continue work on the two drugs allied with Bayer 18 months ago, which delivered a $60 million cash upfront.

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Amid mon­key­pox fears, biotechs spring to ac­tion; Mod­er­na’s CFO trou­ble; Cuts, cuts every­where; Craft­ing the right pro­teins; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

It’s always a bittersweet moment saying goodbye, but as Josh Sullivan goes off to new adventures we are grateful for the way he’s built up the Endpoints Manufacturing section — which the rest of the team will now carry forward. If you’re not already, this may be a good time to sign up for your weekly dose of drug manufacturing news. Thank you for reading and wish you a restful weekend.

Sanofi and Re­gen­eron clear the fin­ish line in an in­flam­ma­to­ry esoph­a­gus dis­ease, leav­ing Take­da in the dust

With atopic dermatitis rivals breathing down Dupixent’s neck, Sanofi and Regeneron on Friday secured a first win in new territory in what Sanofi’s head of immunology and inflammation Naimish Patel called the fastest approval he’s ever seen.

The FDA approved Dupixent on Friday to treat patients 12 years and older with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), an inflammatory condition that causes swelling and scarring of the esophagus. The approval came just a couple months after regulators granted Dupixent priority review, and months ahead of its PDUFA date on Aug. 3.

Fu­ji­film con­tin­ues its biotech build­ing spree with new fa­cil­i­ty in Chi­na

A Japanese conglomerate is making a big play in China with the opening of a new facility, as it continues to expand.

Fujifilm Irvine Scientific has opened its new Innovation and Collaboration Center in Suzhou New District, China, an area in Jiangsu province specifically designated for technological and industrial development.

According to Fujifilm, the 12,000-square-foot site will be responsible for the company’s cell culture media optimization, analysis and design services. Cell culture media itself often requires customization of formulas and protocols to achieve the desired quantity and quality of therapeutic desired. Fujifilm Irvine Scientific is offering these services from its headquarters in California and Japan to its customers globally, as well as in China now.

Try­ing to shake up the Parkin­son's par­a­digm, Ab­b­Vie sub­mits NDA for con­tin­u­ous, 24-hour in­fu­sion ther­a­py

AbbVie is approaching the FDA with a new therapy to potentially treat Parkinson’s disease, using prodrugs of two medications commonly used for the condition.

The Big Pharma submitted its NDA for ABBV-951, a solution of levodopa and carbidopa prodrugs being evaluated in advanced Parkinson’s patients who don’t respond well to oral therapy, AbbVie announced Friday morning. Researchers are hoping a positive Phase III study that reads out in late October will help move things along quickly at the agency.

Siddhartha Mukherjee (Brian Ach/Getty Images for The New Yorker)

All Blue's $733M bid to ac­quire Zymeworks turns hos­tile as board bat­tles back — af­ter a biotech celebri­ty jumps in

Yesterday, the team at All Blue Capital — bent on the takeover of a badly battered Zymeworks — brought in celebrated oncologist, Pulitzer prize-winning writer and biotech exec Siddhartha Mukherjee to add some glitz to their proposed board. But they’re still not winning over any converts.

This morning, Zymeworks’ board officially turned this acquisition offer into a hostile showdown, rejecting the unsolicited offer and marshaling its forces to prevent a buyout at $10.50 per share.

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Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (via Getty)

Sanofi's $20B buy­out of Gen­zyme pays off again with Eu­ro­pean OK for first Nie­mann-Pick drug

Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson has made clear his intention to develop new rare disease drugs and broaden his company’s offerings. That effort leaped forward on Friday with the EMA’s signing off on the company’s — and the EU’s — first drug to treat the non-central nervous system manifestations of the rare and debilitating Niemann-Pick disease.

The enzyme replacement therapy, developed to replace patients’ deficient or defective enzyme, known as acid sphingomyelinase, was first developed by Genzyme, which Sanofi acquired for more than $20 billion in 2011. That acquisition has also helped Sanofi pull in sales in the field of MS.

Proac­tive­ly pre­vent­ing short­ages: New FDA guid­ance spells out which drugs re­quire risk man­age­ment plans

As the majority of drug shortages are still associated with manufacturing-related quality issues, the FDA on Thursday published new draft guidance spelling out how to proactively assess risks to manufacturing processes and supply chains, while understanding the market’s vulnerabilities.

While drug shortages peaked in 2011, the FDA says in its new 18-page draft guidance that the number of new drug shortages “has declined significantly since” that peak, reaching a low in 2015 and 2016, thanks in part to a new law’s enactment, known as FDASIA, which helped the agency better prevent or mitigate drug supply disruptions and shortages, and clarified cGMP requirements.