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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