No­var­tis' wild card block­buster con­tender falls flat; Reg­u­la­to­ry reck­on­ing for check­point drugs looms; and more

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A No­var­tis wild card fails its first test

When canakinum­ab failed to live up to the promise of giv­ing No­var­tis its next heart dis­ease block­buster, the Swiss phar­ma gi­ant took so­lace in a sil­ver lin­ing: In a Phase III tri­al, pa­tients who re­ceived the drug were 77% less like­ly to die of lung can­cer than those who didn’t. But the first ef­fort to trans­late that find­ing in a 237-peo­ple con­trolled tri­al has flopped. Adding canakinum­ab to chemother­a­py didn’t help pa­tients with ad­vanced or metasta­t­ic non-small cell lung can­cer live longer. Still, No­var­tis isn’t giv­ing up on the in­ter­leukin-be­ta block­er, which CEO Vas Narasimhan has tapped as a “wild card” drug, with a slate of oth­er tri­als in ear­li­er stages of dis­ease.

Mer­ck dis­card vaults to top of pricest drugs

GoodRx is back with their new top 10 list of the most ex­pen­sive drugs in the US, and an old Mer­ck dis­card has made it to the new num­ber 2 spot. Eiger Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals had li­censed Zok­in­vy, once test­ed for can­cer, with­out any biobucks tied. By di­rect­ing it at rare cas­es of prog­e­ria, ex­ecs de­cid­ed they could charge above the usu­al rate re­served for ul­tra-rare dis­eases: $1,032,480. Right be­hind it is the sec­ond new en­try on the list: Danyelza, the new drug from Y-mAbs Ther­a­peu­tics that weighs in just un­der 7 fig­ures, at $977,664, for a com­bi­na­tion treat­ment for high-risk cas­es of neu­rob­las­toma. The rest of the list fea­tures fa­mil­iar names — some with hiked prices.

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