Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)(Photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: House pass­es $35 month­ly in­sulin caps, but Sen­ate re­mains a ques­tion mark

De­moc­rats and Re­pub­li­cans re­mained di­vid­ed over how to low­er the price of in­sulin, and on the House floor Thurs­day, Dems vot­ed to­geth­er with 12 Re­pub­li­cans to pass a bill to cap in­sulin prices at $35 per month, by a vote of 232-193 (and 6 didn’t vote). In the Sen­ate, the pic­ture isn’t so clear.

House Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi (D-CA) took to the floor on Thurs­day, ex­plain­ing how the price of in­sulin has sky­rock­et­ed in re­cent years, with the top man­u­fac­tur­ers pulling in record-break­ing prof­its by charg­ing the US sig­nif­i­cant­ly more than oth­er coun­tries.

Work­ing par­ents on in­sulin are re­port­ing of­ten hav­ing to choose be­tween pay­ing the bills and pro­tect­ing the health of a loved one, Pelosi said. And while the bill ef­fec­tive­ly cuts what many of those who re­ly on in­sulin will pay at the phar­ma­cy counter, it doesn’t hit the prices set by the phar­ma man­u­fac­tur­ers, nor does it help those who are unin­sured.

The same in­sulin price cap bill passed the House last year but didn’t muster the votes in the Sen­ate. How it will fare in the Sen­ate again re­mains un­known, al­though Dems will like­ly need 60 votes, mean­ing Re­pub­li­cans will have to join them, un­less they use a tac­tic known as rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, which al­lows for just a sim­ple ma­jor­i­ty. Re­pub­li­cans pre­vi­ous­ly used rec­on­cil­i­a­tion to get their tax law passed un­der the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“There is a path for­ward in the Sen­ate to pass the leg­is­la­tion through rec­on­cil­i­a­tion,” David Mitchell, a can­cer pa­tient and founder of Pa­tients For Af­ford­able Drugs Now, said in a state­ment. “In or­der to de­liv­er on their promis­es to all pa­tients — in­clud­ing those who de­pend on in­sulin — the Sen­ate must act ur­gent­ly to ap­prove the broad pro­vi­sions al­ready passed by the House.”

And al­though Re­pub­li­cans slammed the bill on Thurs­day’s floor de­bate as mis­guid­ed, some of the same House Re­pub­li­cans pre­vi­ous­ly backed a Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion move that re­quired more than 1,600 plans to cap in­sulin co­pays at $35 a month.

Rep. Cathy Mc­Mor­ris Rodgers (R-WA), who vot­ed against the in­sulin bill on Thurs­day, called out the PBMs for hid­ing low­er drug costs from pa­tients, say­ing this bill gives these mid­dle­men a pass.

“We should be low­er­ing the cost [of in­sulin] with­out go­ing down the road of price con­trols,” she said.

Rep. Vir­ginia Foxx (R-NC) sim­i­lar­ly vot­ed “Nay” and called the bill “one step clos­er to so­cial­ized med­i­cine,” say­ing it “sets an ex­treme­ly dan­ger­ous prece­dent.” Con­gress shouldn’t know­ing­ly raise pre­mi­ums, she said.

But De­moc­rats coun­tered that this bill would pro­vide a lit­er­al life­line to many with di­a­betes.

House Ma­jor­i­ty Leader Ste­ny Hoy­er (D-MD) said the bill is not a form of price con­trol as the com­pa­nies are still go­ing to charge what they charge.

Oth­er De­moc­rats said this should be the first step to even more drug pric­ing re­forms, in­clud­ing al­low­ing Medicare to ne­go­ti­ate on drug prices.

“At the end of the day, I hope that we can still bring for­ward a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion bill with ad­di­tion­al re­forms this year. I know we need to do Medicare drug price ne­go­ti­a­tion,” Rep. Ang­ie Craig (D-MN), the lead spon­sor of the in­sulin bill, told Politi­co.

Sen­ate ma­jor­i­ty leader Chuck Schumer has vowed to hold a vote in the Sen­ate on the in­sulin cap bill af­ter the East­er re­cess.

Ed­i­tor’s note: Ar­ti­cle up­dat­ed with more de­tails on the vote.

Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Cyril Marcilhacy/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

FDA side­lines Paul Hud­son's $3.7B MS drug af­ter es­tab­lish­ing link to liv­er dam­age

One of Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson’s top picks in the pipeline — picked up in a $3.7 billion buyout 2 years ago — has just been sidelined in the US by a safety issue.

The pharma giant put out word early Thursday that the FDA has put their Phase III studies of tolebrutinib in multiple sclerosis and myasthenia gravis on partial clinical hold, halting enrollment and suspending dosing for patients who have been on the drug for less than 60 days. Patients who have completed at least 60 days of treatment can continue therapy as researchers explore a “limited” — but unspecified in Sanofi’s statement — number of cases of liver injury.

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Phar­ma re­acts to post-Roe; Drug­mak­ers beef up cy­ber de­fense; Boehringer, Roche qui­et­ly axe drugs; 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 a reminder, we are off on Monday for the Fourth of July. I hope this recap will kick off your (long) weekend well and that the rest of it will be just what you need. See you next week for a shortened edition!

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Eric Hughes, incoming Teva EVP of global R&D and CMO

Te­va chief raids Ver­tex for his new glob­al head of re­search and de­vel­op­ment

Teva CEO Kåre Schultz has found his new R&D chief and CMO in Vertex’s ranks.

The global generics giant, which has some 3,500 staffers in the R&D group, has named Eric Hughes to the top research spot in the company. He’ll be replacing Hafrun Fridriksdottir, who held the role for close to five years, on Aug. 1.

Hughes hasn’t been at Vertex for long, though. He jumped from Novartis less than a year ago, after heading the immunology, hepatology & dermatology global development unit. Before that, he completed a five-year stint as head of early clinical research for the specialty discovery medicine department in the exploratory clinical & translational research group at Bristol Myers Squibb, according to his LinkedIn profile.

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#BIO22: Man­ag­ing a biotech in tur­bu­lent times. 'There's a per­fect shit­show out there'

On Tuesday, June 14, Endpoints News EIC John Carroll sat down with a group of biotech execs to discuss the bear market for industry stocks and how they were dealing with it. Here’s the conversation, which has been lightly edited for brevity.

Martin Meeson, sponsor opening:

Thank you, John. Hello everyone. My name’s Martin Meeson, I’m the CEO of Fujifilm Diosynth. For those of you who don’t know Fujifilm Diosynth, we operate in the development of clinical and commercial product scale up, we have facilities in Europe and the US, and around about 4,000 employees. We run on average about 150 programs, so when it comes to managing in turbulent times over the last two years, we’ve had quite a lot of experience of that. Not just keeping the clinical pipelines and the commercial pipelines open, but also our response to the pandemic and the molecules that we’ve had within there. One of the phrases that I coined probably about a year ago when we were talking at JP Morgan, was I talked about managing through turbulent times. Well, it’s become the fact that we are not managing and leading through these times, we are managing in them, which is why that’s really the purpose of and the topic that we’ve got today.

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Amgen's taking social media followers around the globe as it introduces the many different

From Tam­pa to Mu­nich, Am­gen’s ‘Places’ cam­paign in­tro­duces its lo­ca­tions around the world

Amgen is taking social media followers around the world with its latest corporate campaign. Called “Places of Amgen,” the twice monthly posts highlight the biopharma’s different offices and sites – and the people who work there.

Each post runs on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram with details about the work Amgen does in that location, when it was established, comments from people who work there and other interesting facts. The most recent one about Paris, France, for example, notes that Amgen France last year signed a French association charter committed to the inclusion of LBGT+ people in the workplace.

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Credit: Shutterstock

Bio­haven takes mi­graine cam­paign to pa­tients' Twit­ter feeds, months ahead of Pfiz­er takeover

Two weeks ago, Biohaven hit an all-time high in weekly Nurtec prescriptions. CEO Vlad Coric attributes at least some of that success to a new interactive Twitter campaign that encourages patients to free their feed of potential migraine triggers.

Earlier this month, Biohaven in partnership with Twitter launched the #RelieveYourFeed campaign that allows users to customize their app settings based on their migraine triggers.

Oncologists on Twitter are talking up ASCO studies, health equity and burnout, according to new deep dive research from Harris Poll (via Shutterstock)

What’s been on in­flu­en­tial on­col­o­gist­s' minds? Most­ly AS­CO, but al­so health eq­ui­ty, ac­cord­ing to new Har­ris Poll re­search

Over the past few months, oncologists have been talking a lot about the ASCO conference. Not surprising considering its import and the study data presented, but what may be less expected is the second most talked about topic of health equity.

That’s according to data from The Harris Poll and the new expert network the researcher is building out. While the company has been doing deep data dives into specific health issues or conditions for pharma clients, it’s now monitoring influencer networks of therapy area specialists to find out what experts are really thinking about.

No­var­tis to re­sume the pro­duc­tion of two ra­di­oli­gand ther­a­pies af­ter re­solv­ing qual­i­ty is­sues

Earlier this year, Novartis touted its radioligand as a major piece to counter competition in the cancer space. However, the physical production of its products has had anything but a smooth ride.

In May, Novartis had to suspend production of Lutathera and Pluvicto, its two primary radiotherapies. According to the company, this was done out of an abundance of caution as a result of potential quality issues identified in its manufacturing. The production suspension impacts the commercial and clinical trial supply of the products.

Roche, Pfiz­er top list of ESG lead­ers in pa­tient group­s' view, but many still think phar­mas can do bet­ter

The rise of pharma environmental, social and governance (ESG) efforts in the past two years has been meteoric as investors turn their attention to sustainable funding. However, investors aren’t the only ones watching. Patients are beginning to tune into pharmas’ ESG promises too.

Patient advocacy groups familiar with ESG regard it as an important issue and want to be included in helping pharma companies set ESG policies and targets, according to a new report from PatientView. That’s quite different from what the investment community wants across a variety of Gartner’s defined financial, competitive, strategic and perception goals.