Durbin push­es for Sen­ate vote on bill to in­clude drug prices in ads

Sen­a­tor Richard Durbin (D-IL) took to the Sen­ate floor on Wednes­day to push for a vote on a bi­par­ti­san bill that would re­quire phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies to list the prices of their pre­scrip­tion drugs in di­rect-to-con­sumer (DTC) ad­ver­tise­ments.

Ac­cord­ing to Durbin, the av­er­age Amer­i­can sees nine DTC drug ads each day and the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­dus­try spends more than $6 bil­lion per year on DTC ads.

Durbin and Sen­a­tor Chuck Grass­ley (R-IA) passed a sim­i­lar ver­sion of this bill unan­i­mous­ly in the Sen­ate in Au­gust 2018, but it was re­moved in an ap­pro­pri­a­tions con­fer­ence with the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.
Now, how­ev­er, Grass­ley notes that the De­moc­rats con­trol the House and if the Sen­ate acts on the bill, which is al­so co-spon­sored by Sen­a­tors An­gus King (I-ME), and Lamar Alexan­der (R-TN), it could be­come law.

The lat­est push for such dis­clo­sures comes as US Dis­trict Court Judge Amit Mehta in Ju­ly ruled that the US De­part­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices (HHS) lacks the au­thor­i­ty to re­quire drug­mak­ers to post list prices in phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal DTC tele­vi­sion ad­ver­tise­ments.

Pre­vi­ous­ly in June, Am­gen, Mer­ck, Eli Lil­ly and the As­so­ci­a­tion of Na­tion­al Ad­ver­tis­ers sued HHS over its pend­ing rule that would have es­tab­lished such dis­clo­sures, claim­ing that the list prices are not what pa­tients pay and that the agency does not have the au­thor­i­ty for such a rule­mak­ing.

Mean­while, a re­search let­ter in JA­MA from Sep­tem­ber, shows how states are con­tin­u­ing to push for fur­ther drug price trans­paren­cy but with lit­tle suc­cess. Of 166 drug pric­ing laws iden­ti­fied in the study, 35 laws passed in 22 states and in­clud­ed a trans­paren­cy com­po­nent, but on­ly sev­en laws passed in six states were deemed in­for­ma­tive.

“De­spite many re­cent state laws about price trans­paren­cy, we found that most of them were in­suf­fi­cient to re­veal true trans­ac­tion prices, and no state passed leg­is­la­tion that pro­vid­ed ef­fec­tive trans­paren­cy across the en­tire sup­ply chain. To en­sure drug price leg­is­la­tion is use­ful, pol­i­cy mak­ers should re­quire that re­al price in­for­ma­tion, in­clud­ing dis­counts and re­bates, is re­port­ed by all sup­ply chain par­tic­i­pants,” the au­thors from the Uni­ver­si­ty of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia wrote.

RAPS: First pub­lished in Reg­u­la­to­ry Fo­cus™ by the Reg­u­la­to­ry Af­fairs Pro­fes­sion­als So­ci­ety, the largest glob­al or­ga­ni­za­tion of and for those in­volved with the reg­u­la­tion of health­care prod­ucts. Click here for more in­for­ma­tion.

So­cial im­age: Richard Durbin via durbin.sen­ate.gov


Zachary Brennan

managing editor, RAPS

Com­mu­ni­cat­ing the val­ue of pre­ci­sion med­i­cine

By Natasha Cowan, Content Marketing Manager at Blue Latitude Health.
Many stakeholders are confused by novel precision medicines, including patients and healthcare professionals. So, how can industry help them to navigate this complexity?

Precision medicine represents a new paradigm in healthcare. It embodies the shift from treating many patients with the same therapy, to having the tools to identify the best treatment for every patient.

Spe­cial re­port: Twen­ty ex­tra­or­di­nary women in bio­phar­ma R&D who worked their way to the top

What differentiates a woman leader in biopharma R&D from a man?

Not much, except there are fewer of them in senior posts. Data suggest women are not more risk-averse, family-oriented or less confident than their male counterparts — indeed the differences between the two sexes are negligible. But a glance at the top R&D positions in Big Pharma leaves little doubt that upward migration in the executive ranks of biopharma R&D is tough.

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Ed­i­tas and Cel­gene sub Juno are tack­ling hottest im­munother­a­py cells

As the first CRISPR-edited cancer patients watch their treatments unfold, one of the first CRISPR companies is rejigging a major oncology deal.

Editas Medicine is amending its long-running collaboration with Celgene and their subsidiary Juno Therapeutics. The new deal will expand the focus of their work to cover a subset of immune cells that have become an increasingly hot target for immunotherapy: gamma-delta cells.

FDA Vas­cepa re­view spot­lights new safe­ty sig­nals, pos­si­ble min­er­al oil spoil­er as Amarin hunts a block­buster ap­proval

An in-house FDA review of Amarin’s Vascepa raises a set of hurdles the biotech will have to clear if the biotech expects to get the long-awaited FDA approval that could set it on a path to superstar status. But it appears that Amarin has survived another potential setback without introducing a major new threat to its prospects.
The stakes don’t get much higher, with analysts saying a win this week for Amarin could lead to billions in new sales — provided the agency stamps it with an OK. And investors liked what they say in the FDA review this morning, bumping the stock $AMRN 17%.
The insider take at the agency includes a note on two new safety signals seen in the big cardio outcomes study of the omega-3 fatty acid drug that shocked many analysts with a solid set of efficacy data. There’s a key concern over whether the use of mineral oil in the placebo skewed LDL levels in such a way that tilted the data in Amarin’s favor.
The FDA overview was written by John Sharretts, the acting deputy director in the Division of Metabolism and Endocrinology Products. 
On the safety side, the internal review focused on a 3.1% versus 2.1% rate of adjudicated events of atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter requiring hospitalization. But they also say a-fib shouldn’t confound the benefit-safety of the drug — given the improvement on MACE — or prevent its use. And then there was also a higher rate of bleeding events in the drug arm.

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Prakash Raman. Flagship

Flag­ship woos No­var­tis top deal­mak­er Prakash Ra­man in move to get the BD ball rolling ear­ly

Flagship Pioneering likes to be ahead of its times — so far ahead, perhaps, that it is often challenging to find partners for their startups while the scientific scaffolding is underway. But Prakash Raman is here to change that.

Raman, who most recently headed up business development at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, became Flagship’s first chief business development officer two weeks ago. By acting as a “central resource” for the 100 companies in the venture fund’s portfolio, he hopes to help entrepreneurs and management teams strategize about dealmaking to capture value beyond the near-term validation of their platform technologies, Raman told Endpoints News.

FDA puts Sol­id Bio’s lead gene ther­a­py pro­gram on hold — again — af­ter an­oth­er pa­tient is hurt by SGT-001

Solid Biosciences continues to be plagued by safety issues.

Close to 18 months after the gene therapy biotech was able to quickly shed an FDA hold on their lead Duchenne muscular dystrophy program for SGT-001, regulators have stepped back in to force another halt after another patient was hit hard by a set of serious adverse events remarkably similar to the first set.

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Bill Haney, Skyhawk

Cel­gene ex­ecs shell out $92M cash for a pair of R&D deals that will fit per­fect­ly in their new home at Bris­tol-My­ers

With Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Celgene buyout all but complete, the BD teams are working in perfect synchrony now. The Celgene side is going back to Skyhawk, a darling of the crowd that set out to drug RNA, and they’re adding a suite of new programs that mesh perfectly with the new regime in charge.

Celgene is shelling out $80 million in a cash upfront to add oncology, immuno-oncology and autoimmune diseases to the initial roundup of neurological targets mapped early in Skyhawk’s existence.

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Reata's bar­dox­olone of­fers promise in pa­tients with rare kid­ney dis­or­der

After surprising Wall Street with positive data on its drug, omaveloxolone, in patients suffering from a notoriously hard-to-treat degenerative neuromuscular disorder last month, Reata Pharma on Monday unveiled pivotal results from a trial testing another drug, bardoxolone, in patients with a rare, genetic form of chronic kidney disease for which there exist no approved therapies.

Bardoxolone, like Reata’s other lead drug — omaveloxolone — is a small molecule engineered to bind to a gene called Keap1 to enhance the activity of the protein Nrf2 in order to defuse inflammation.

Am­gen ax­es 149 of its staff in Cam­bridge of­fice; Evotec, Mil­li­pore­Sig­ma en­ter re­search pact

→ Amgen has submitted a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act (WARN) — a warning of impending mass layoffs 60 days in advance of the date — to the state of Massachusetts in the wake of the company’s exodus from the neurosciences R&D sector. David Reese, the company’s R&D chief, said at the time that the company is cutting ties in the field to focus on other undisclosed areas. In its WARN notice, the Cambridge-based company stated that 149 of its employees would be affected — among the total 180 being let go. The terminations will take effect on December 31, 2019.