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Hal Barron, GSK

What makes Hal Bar­ron tick? Look at the peo­ple he’s team­ing up with at GSK

GSK R&D chief Hal Barron is all about people: The people who lead his teams, the people on his teams and the people he’s collaborating with.

If you listened closely to Barron’s one-year review of the effort to turn around GSK’s R&D organization in their Q2 update this week, that came through loud and clear as he flagged a series of new hires, new plans to build research teams and a new cell therapy collaboration we haven’t heard of before. 

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Kamala Harris speaking yesterday at the Des Moines Register Iowa Presidential Candidate Forum [via Getty]

Who’s the tough­est on drug prices? A game of po­lit­i­cal one-up­man­ship is dri­ving the pol­i­cy de­bate in Wash­ing­ton

Earlier this week we got a look at Senator Kamala Harris’ position on drug prices. She’s proposing that HHS take an average price from single-payer systems like the UK, Germany and Canada — which leverage market access for lower prices — and use that to set the US price. Anything drug companies collect above that would be taxed at a rate of 100%.

And the rhetoric is scathing:
While families struggle to make it to the end of the month, pharmaceutical companies are turning record profits. They’re spending nearly as much on advertising as R&D. They’re manipulating their market power to hike prices on lifesaving generic drugs. They’re making twice the profit of the average industry in America and still increased drug prices by 10.5% over the past six months alone. Meanwhile, they are charging dramatically higher prices to American consumers.
That’s an escalation on Joe Biden’s plan, which includes drug importation from those cheaper markets as well as allowing Medicare to negotiate prices — something that virtually all Dems agree on now.

Why would the FDA ap­prove an­oth­er con­tro­ver­sial drug to spur a woman’s li­bido with these da­ta? And why no ex­pert pan­el re­view?

AMAG Pharmaceuticals’ newly approved drug for spurring women’s sexual desire may never make much money, but it’s a big hit at sparking media attention.

The therapy — Vyleesi (bremelanotide) — got the green light from regulators on Friday evening, swiftly lighting up a range of stories around the world, from The New York Times to The Guardian. Several headlines inevitably referred to it as the “female Viagra,” invoking Pfizer’s old erectile dysfunction blockbuster.

But the two drugs have little in common.

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Af­ter watch­ing its share price soar on a Bloomberg re­port and heat­ed ru­mors, Bio­haven stock takes a bil­lion-dol­lar bath

Back in April, Biohaven Pharmaceutical became one hot biotech stock $BHVN based on a report in Bloomberg that some “potential bidders” had been kicking the tires at the biotech, which has a lead drug for migraines. Then the rumor mill really started to smoke when execs canceled a presentation at an investor conference a little more than a week ago.

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Turns out, Rudy Tanzi did­n't see much of a sto­ry about a hid­den link be­tween En­brel and Alzheimer's ei­ther

The Washington Post managed to whip up the quickest industry consensus I’ve ever seen that one of its reporters was purveying overblown nonsense with a story that Pfizer was sitting on data suggesting that Enbrel could be an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s. 

In covering that bit of anti-Big Pharma fantasy — there are lots of reasons to go after pharma, but this piece was ludicrous — I noted comments in the story from some prominent people in the field criticizing Pfizer for not publishing the data. I singled out Rudy Tanzi at Harvard and then applied some added criticism for the things he’s done to hype — in my opinion — highly questionable assumptions. You can see it in the link. 

Sil­i­con Val­ley's most an­tic­i­pat­ed slide deck just dropped. What does it mean for bio­phar­ma's dig­i­tal teams?

These aren’t the typical slides you’d see at Endpoints — no molecules, clinical programs, or p-values. Instead, we’ll talk digital and internet trends, factors that elite global brands — regardless of industry — must first measure and understand before deploying products into the world. That’s a concept that most of our Big Pharma audience is in tune with. Digital awareness is key to success in the discovery, development, and marketing of new biopharmaceuticals, and most of the majors now have a chief digital officer: Novartis, Sanofi, and Pfizer, just to name a few.

The Wash­ing­ton Post points the fin­ger at Pfiz­er for stay­ing mum about an Alzheimer’s study. But there’s more to the sto­ry than that

The Washington Post on Tuesday raised some provocative questions about Pfizer’s R&D operations, publishing a story that spotlights their review of research an internal group did that illustrated their blockbuster drug Enbrel could be effective in treating Alzheimer’s — the ultimate Holy Grail in an industry that has lavished billions of dollars on drug programs in search of something that could be used to bat back the disease.

This is a story of a big, bad company and its execs who had their own selfish reasons for not pursuing the research themselves. The drug is headed off-patent, say some unnamed critics, and why would Pfizer care to spend the money needed to test the theory that an anti-inflammatory could reduce risk of Alzheimer’s if it couldn’t stand to profit?

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Let's talk AI: Top R&D ex­ecs tack­le where we are and where we're head­ed with this cru­cial new tech­nol­o­gy

As a biotech exec with a background in computational chemistry, Rosana Kapeller has been watching the hubbub over artificial intelligence and machine learning in biopharma play out with a considerable degree of skepticism.

“People talk about ML and AI without knowing what they are talking about,” the outspoken Nimbus alum told me earlier in the week. And there are some big pitfalls the uninitiated are likely to drop into without warning if they follow the crowd into AI without thinking things through first. 

Alzheimer’s R&D projects side­lined as Bio­gen’s ad­u­canum­ab shock shakes re­searchers to the core of their be­liefs

As Biogen works through the fallout from the stunning implosion of its aducanumab Phase III — and its partners at Eisai bustle ahead with BAN2401 and their BACE program — the shock waves have clearly rippled to the far corners of the Alzheimer’s field. Falling on top of landmark failures for Phase III BACE studies at Merck and Eli Lilly/AstraZeneca, some of the players in Alzheimer’s have already begun to factor in the aducanumab failure on symptomatic patients in making a go/no go decision.

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That feel­ing you get when you hit the fin­ish line, and then set new goals

Self-congratulation is an art form most of us master at an early age. And I’m no different from your average person.

Like everyone, I understand nothing is sweeter than the last step of a 1,000-mile march to the finish line of a big goal. We assume that everyone wants to celebrate with us when we arrive, but that’s not usually the case.

So I’ll keep this short and sweet.

Sometime in the next day or so, Endpoints News will pass the 50,000 mark on subscribers. That is the second of two goals I set out for myself at the beginning — June 20, 2016. The ‘win’ I was looking for (alongside 500,000-plus web traffic and 250,000-plus monthly users, a goal we blew the doors off of months ago). And I’ve devoted a good deal to achieving it.