CVS, Wal­greens and Wal­mart reach near­ly $12B set­tle­ment over opi­oid epi­dem­ic

Top phar­ma­cy chains CVS Health, Wal­greens and Wal­mart are look­ing to bun­dle the bulk of their opi­oid-re­lat­ed lit­i­ga­tion in­to a ma­jor set­tle­ment an­nounced to­day.

CVS said in its earn­ings re­port that it agreed to pay more than $5 bil­lion to states, tribes and oth­er groups over the next decade to sub­stan­tial­ly re­solve all opi­oid-re­lat­ed law­suits and claims against the com­pa­ny. Wal­greens sim­i­lar­ly said in an SEC fil­ing that it would pay $4.8 bil­lion in re­me­di­a­tion pay­ments over 15 years to a ma­jor­i­ty of these suits.

And Wal­mart will like­ly pay an­oth­er $3 bil­lion for its own opi­oids-re­lat­ed set­tle­ment, ac­cord­ing to Bloomberg sources.

Fol­low­ing dis­cus­sions with a lead­er­ship group of state at­tor­neys gen­er­al, both CVS and Wal­greens said they forged agree­ments that would re­solve claims from more than a decade ago even as the set­tle­ment “is not an ad­mis­sion of any li­a­bil­i­ty or wrong­do­ing.”

How­ev­er, in an SEC fil­ing, CVS al­so cau­tioned that the set­tle­ment is still in its ear­ly phas­es and the “amount of ul­ti­mate loss may dif­fer ma­te­ri­al­ly from this ac­cru­al.” The phar­ma­cy chain al­so said that it ex­pects a por­tion of its $5 bil­lion in pay­ments to be tax de­ductible.

As more than 100,000 died last year to opi­oid over­dos­es, these lat­est set­tle­ments are the biggest since J&J and sev­er­al drug dis­trib­u­tors signed off on a $21 bil­lion set­tle­ment in Feb­ru­ary.

Un­der that set­tle­ment, Amerisource­Ber­gen agreed to pay up to $6.1 bil­lion, Car­di­nal will con­tribute up to $6 bil­lion, and McKesson is on the hook for up to $7.4 bil­lion over the next 18 years.

Big Phar­ma's Twit­ter ex­o­dus; Mer­ck wa­gers $1.35B on buy­out; $3.5M gene ther­a­py; 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.

As you start planning for #JPM23, we hope you will consider joining Endpoints News for our live and virtual events. For those who are celebrating Thanksgiving, we hope you are enjoying the long weekend with loved ones. And if you’re not — we’ll see you next week!

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Paul Perreault, CSL Behring CEO

CSL lands FDA ap­proval for he­mo­phil­ia B gene ther­a­py, sets $3.5M list price

The FDA has approved the world’s first gene therapy for hemophilia B, ushering into the market a treatment that’s historic in both what it promises to do and how much it will cost.

CSL will be marketing the drug, Hemgenix, at a list price of $3.5 million — which sets a new record for the most expensive single-use gene therapy in the US.

In a statement provided to Endpoints News, the Australian company noted that the current costs of treating people with moderate to severe hemophilia B can be significant over a lifetime. By some estimates, healthcare systems could spend more than $20 million per person.

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Elon Musk (GDA via AP Images)

Biggest drug com­pa­nies halt­ed Twit­ter ad buys af­ter Lil­ly in­sulin spoof

Almost all of the drug industry’s biggest advertisers cut their spending on Twitter to zero or near-zero over the last two weeks amid worries about impersonation of their brands by pranksters and the future of the social media company.

Among 18 of the biggest pharmaceutical advertisers in the US market, 12 cut their Twitter ad spending to nothing for the week beginning Nov. 14, according to Pathmatics, which tracks data on prescription drug ad spending as well as general corporate advertising. The list of drugmakers cutting spending to zero includes Merck, AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, Novartis, Pfizer and others.

Rob Davis, Merck CEO

Up­dat­ed: No Seagen here: 'Do more' means a small $1.35B pur­chase of Ima­go for Mer­ck

Merck is making an acquisition, the Big Pharma announced before Monday’s opening bell. No, Seagen is not entering the fold, as had been speculated for quarters.

Folding under Merck’s wings will be Pfizer-backed Imago BioSciences. For nearly a year, Merck CEO Rob Davis has been saying the pharma giant needs to “do more” on the business development front after its 2021 $11.5 billion acquisition of Acceleron.

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Alzheimer’s drug bites the dust; Re­struc­ture, re­struc­ture, re­struc­ture; Land­mark di­a­betes OK; 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.

Being in the news business can give one a warped sense of time — it feels like quite a while since we published some of these stories below. But next Saturday’s Endpoints Weekly will definitely be shorter, as we take off Thursday and Friday for Thanksgiving. We will still have the abbreviated edition in your inbox at the usual time.

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Court KOs REMS-re­lat­ed patent list­ing for Jazz nar­colep­sy drug

A Delaware district court said sayonara to a Jazz Pharmaceuticals patent related to the distribution system for its blockbuster narcolepsy drug Xyrem.

The case at hand involves Avadel CNS Pharmaceuticals, which sought to delist the patent in question, as it related to its restricted distribution system under its REMS.

After listing the patent in the Orange Book, Jazz filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Avadel, triggering a 30-month stay that blocks final FDA approval of Avadel’s competing (and tentatively approved) narcolepsy drug, a once-nightly formulation of sodium oxybate, which compares with the twice nightly Xyrem.

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Image: Shutterstock

MIT re­searchers re­veal DNA "Paste" tech be­hind lat­est gene edit­ing start­up

MIT scientists have developed a tool that they say can insert large gene sequences where they want in the genome.

In a paper published Thursday in Nature Biotechnology, MIT fellows Omar Abudayyeh, Jonathan Gootenberg and colleagues detail a technology they call PASTE, which they say can potentially be used to insert long strands of DNA and treat genetic diseases caused by many different mutations, such as cystic fibrosis and Leber congenital amaurosis, a rare eye disorder that causes blindness.

J&J's Spra­va­to pulls a PhI­II win against Sero­quel XR in treat­ment-re­sis­tant de­pres­sion

A day before Thanksgiving, J&J’s Janssen has a new cut of Phase III Spravato data to be grateful for.

The pharma giant announced on Wednesday that its nasal spray, also known as esketamine, beat extended-release quetiapine, previously sold by AstraZeneca as Seroquel XR, in treatment-resistant depression (TRD). Of 676 adults, a significantly higher number of patients on Spravato were able to achieve remission and avoid relapse after 32 weeks, according to J&J.

Dermavant Sciences' first consumer TV ad for its Vtama psoriasis med shows people ready for a new topical treatment.

Roivant’s Der­ma­vant de­buts first-ever TV com­mer­cial for pso­ri­a­sis cream Vta­ma

Dermavant Sciences has been marketing its first product, psoriasis med Vtama, to dermatologists for months, but on Tuesday it rolled out its first consumer campaign. The debut DTC effort including a streaming TV commercial encourages patients to a “Topical Uprising” in a nod to Vtama being a topical cream.

In the new commercial, a swell of people discards scarves and jacket coverings, gathering in the street to converge on a pharmacy to demand a steroid-free prescription. A moment of levity follows when a pharmacist says, “You know you can just talk to your doctor, right?” The gathered crowds collectively says, “Oh.”

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