Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, CMS director (Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

In­fla­tion re­bates: CMS lays the ground rules for phar­ma com­pli­ance

The Cen­ters for Medicare and Med­ic­aid Ser­vices this af­ter­noon un­veiled its first tranche of guid­ance on how drug com­pa­nies will com­ply with new manda­to­ry re­bates — if they raise the prices for cer­tain drugs faster than the rate of in­fla­tion.

While in­dus­try has set the vast ma­jor­i­ty of its price in­creas­es be­low 10% in re­cent years, this new pro­vi­sion will like­ly lead to even small­er in­creas­es to avoid the re­bates.

Meena Se­shamani, CMS deputy ad­min­is­tra­tor, said on a press call Thurs­day that re­quir­ing re­bates for price in­creas­es for drugs al­ready on the mar­ket will dis­cour­age run­away price in­creas­es and tem­per fu­ture growth of the mar­ket.

HHS re­cent­ly re­leased a re­port out­lin­ing what the re­bates could do as more than 1,200 drug price in­creas­es from Ju­ly 2021 to Ju­ly 2022 ex­ceed­ed the in­fla­tion rate of 8.5% for that time pe­ri­od.

The re­bates them­selves will go to re­duc­ing out-of-pock­et drug costs for peo­ple with Medicare, CMS said, and the cen­ters are seek­ing com­ment on the Part D and Part B guid­ance doc­u­ments.

The guid­ance dis­cuss­es every­thing from the process CMS will use to de­ter­mine the num­ber of drug units for cal­cu­lat­ing re­bates, to the process for im­pos­ing mon­e­tary penal­ties (at least 125% of the re­bate amount) on man­u­fac­tur­ers that fail to pay re­bates.

As far as a time­line for what phar­ma com­pa­nies should ex­pect to see, CMS points to:

  • March 11 – The end of the 30-day com­ment pe­ri­od on the guid­ance re­leased to­day.
  • April 1 – Those in Medicare may be­gin pay­ing a low­er coin­sur­ance be­cause of the re­bates.
  • Q4 2023 – CMS ex­pects to con­sid­er the com­ments and is­sue re­vised guid­ance on the in­fla­tion re­bates.
  • Sep­tem­ber 30, 2025 – When CMS must in­voice drug com­pa­nies for the Part B in­fla­tion re­bates they owe Medicare for cal­en­dar quar­ters in 2023 and 2024.
  • De­cem­ber 31, 2025 – When CMS must in­voice drug com­pa­nies for the Part D in­fla­tion re­bates for the pe­ri­ods be­gin­ning Oc­to­ber 1, 2022 and Oc­to­ber 1, 2023.

Forge Bi­o­log­ics’ cGMP Com­pli­ant and Com­mer­cial­ly Vi­able Be­spoke Affin­i­ty Chro­matog­ra­phy Plat­form

Forge Biologics has developed a bespoke affinity chromatography platform approach that factors in unique vector combinations to streamline development timelines and assist our clients in efficiently entering the clinic. By leveraging our experience with natural and novel serotypes and transgene conformations, we are able to accelerate affinity chromatography development by nearly 3-fold. Many downstream purification models are serotype-dependent, demanding unique and time-consuming development strategies for each AAV gene therapy product1. With the increasing demand to propel AAV gene therapies to market, platform purification methods that support commercial-scale manufacturing of high-quality vectors with excellent safety and efficacy profiles are essential.

Luke Miels, GSK chief commercial officer

GSK picks up Scynex­is' FDA-ap­proved an­ti­fun­gal drug for $90M up­front

GSK is dishing out $90 million cash to add an antifungal drug to its commercial portfolio, in a deal spotlighting the pharma giant’s growing focus on infectious diseases.

The upfront will lock in an exclusive license to Scynexis’ Brexafemme, which was approved in 2021 to treat a yeast infection known as vulvovaginal candidiasis, except in China and certain other countries where Scynexis already out-licensed the drug.

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Feng Zhang (Susan Walsh/AP Images)

In search of new way to de­liv­er gene ed­i­tors, CRISPR pi­o­neer turns to mol­e­c­u­lar sy­ringes

Bug bacteria are ruthless.

Some soil bacteria have evolved tiny, but deadly injection systems that attach to insect cells, perforate them and release toxins inside — killing a bug in just a few days’ time. Scientists, on the other hand, want to leverage that system to deliver medicines.

In a paper published Wednesday in Nature, MIT CRISPR researcher Feng Zhang and his lab describe how they engineered these syringes made by bacteria to deliver potential therapies like toxins that kill cancer cells and gene editors. With the help of an AI program, they developed syringes that can load proteins of their choice and selectively target human cells.

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CSL CEO Paul McKenzie (L) and CMO Bill Mezzanotte

Q&A: New­ly-mint­ed CSL chief ex­ec­u­tive Paul McKen­zie and chief med­ical of­fi­cer Bill Mez­zan­otte

Paul McKenzie took over as CEO of Australian pharma giant CSL this month, following in the footsteps of long-time CSL vet Paul Perreault.

With an eye on mRNA, and quickly commercializing its new, $3.5 million-per-shot gene therapy for hemophilia B, McKenzie and chief medical officer Bill Mezzanotte answered some questions from Endpoints News this afternoon about where McKenzie is going to take the company and what advances may be coming to market from CSL’s pipeline. Below is a lightly edited transcript.

Boehringer re­ports ro­bust sales led by type 2 di­a­betes and pul­monary drugs, promis­es more to come high­light­ing obe­si­ty

Boehringer Ingelheim reported human pharma sales of €18.5 billion on Wednesday, led by type 2 diabetes and heart failure drug Jardiance and pulmonary fibrosis med Ofev. Jardiance sales reached €5.8 billion, growing 39% year over year, while Ofev took in €3.2 billion, notching its own 20.6% annual jump.

However, Boehringer is also looking ahead with its pipeline, estimating “In the next seven years the company expects about 20 regulatory approvals in human pharma.”

Mathai Mammen, FogPharma's next CEO

Math­ai Mam­men hands in J&J's R&D keys to lead Greg Ver­dine’s Fog­Phar­ma 

In the early 1990s, Mathai Mammen was a teaching assistant in Greg Verdine’s Science B46 course at Harvard. In June, the former R&D head at Johnson & Johnson will succeed Verdine as CEO, president and chair of FogPharma, the same month the seven-year-old biotech kickstarts its first clinical trial.

After leading R&D at one of the largest drugmakers in the world, taking the company through more than half a dozen drug approvals in the past few years, not to mention a Covid-19 vaccine race, Mammen departed J&J last month and will take the helm of a Cambridge, MA biotech attempting to go after what Verdine calls the “true emperor of all oncogenes” — beta-catenin.

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See­los Ther­a­peu­tics 'tem­porar­i­ly' stops study in rare neu­ro dis­or­der for busi­ness rea­sons

Microcap biotech Seelos Therapeutics is halting enrollment of its study in spinocerebellar ataxia type 3 (also known as Machado-Joseph disease) because of “financial considerations,” and in order to focus on other studies, the company said today, adding that the pause would be temporary.

The study will continue with the patients who have already enrolled, and the data from them will be used to decide whether to continue enrolling others in the future.

Alec­tor cuts 11% of work­force as it dou­bles down on late-stage neu­ro pro­grams part­nered with GSK, Ab­b­Vie

A month after revealing plans to concentrate on its late-stage immuno-neurology pipeline, Alector is trimming its headcount by 11%.

The layoffs will impact around 30 employees across the organization, the company disclosed in an SEC filing, adding that the plan will “better align the company’s resources” with the new strategy. With $712.9 million in cash, cash equivalents and investments as of the end of 2022, Alector believes the reserves will now get it through 2025.

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FDA ap­proves Nar­can opi­oid over­dose re­ver­sal spray for over-the-counter sale

The FDA today approved Emergent BioSolutions’ Narcan brand naloxone nasal spray for over-the-counter sales. The nod was expected and comes on the heels of a unanimous 19-0 advisory committee vote in favor of approval last month.

The move to OTC means the opioid overdose reversal agent will now be available on grocery, convenience and gas stations shelves, as well as potentially for purchase online.