Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

Schumer pledges vote on $35 in­sulin caps next month as oth­er pric­ing re­forms re­main on hold for now

If the Sen­ate fails to pass a $35 month­ly in­sulin cap late next month, which it’s ex­pect­ed to do, what would be next for drug pric­ing re­forms on Capi­tol Hill?

That’s the ma­jor ques­tion right now as Sen­ate Ma­jor­i­ty Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said Tues­day that fol­low­ing the Sen­ate re­cess for the East­er hol­i­day (re­turn­ing on April 25), he will bring to a vote a bill that would cap month­ly in­sulin costs at $35 for those with in­sur­ance, which aligns with Pres­i­dent Biden’s pledge for such a cap at the State of the Union.

Schumer al­so men­tioned “ad­di­tion­al poli­cies to dri­ve down the list price in a more com­pre­hen­sive way,” which would be a wel­come re­lief as the mar­ket has not been able to re­duce prices in any sub­stan­tial way, even with an in­ter­change­able biosim­i­lar.

Su­san Collins

The bi­par­ti­san duo of Sens. Su­san Collins (R-ME) and Jeanne Sha­heen (D-NH), who pre­vi­ous­ly worked on in­sulin in 2019, will lead the Sen­ate’s ef­forts. The is­sue of in­sulin prices in the US has been lin­ger­ing for years with no so­lu­tion. The cur­rent price of in­sulin in the US is more than 10 times that of 33 oth­er com­pa­ra­ble coun­tries, even as the net price of in­sulin has de­clined in re­cent years.

But the bill seems doomed to fail­ure as Sen­ate De­moc­rats are un­like­ly to muster enough votes to pass the cap (10 Re­pub­li­cans would have to join their col­leagues from across the aisle). Still, the vote and lead-up may in­crease aware­ness around the is­sue, which could, in turn, restart wider drug pric­ing re­forms that have stalled since the Build Back Bet­ter Act fiz­zled out.

“In­sulin costs have been rapid­ly ris­ing for years, and it’s forc­ing mil­lions of Amer­i­cans with di­a­betes to make im­pos­si­ble de­ci­sions,” Schumer tweet­ed yes­ter­day on the vote.

Jeanne Sha­heen

But the broad­er strat­e­gy be­hind this vote in April re­mains un­clear.

Gen­er­al­ly, the idea is that the in­sulin bill won’t pass, but that will add to the mo­men­tum be­hind us­ing rec­on­cil­i­a­tion to pass leg­is­la­tion (mean­ing Dems would on­ly need 51 votes) with some drug pric­ing pro­vi­sions in­clud­ed, Alex Law­son, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the non­prof­it So­cial Se­cu­ri­ty Works who fol­lows drug pric­ing de­vel­op­ments close­ly on the Hill, told End­points News.

“But there is wor­ry in the broad­er com­mu­ni­ty that it could pass be­fore [the sec­ond at­tempt at us­ing rec­on­cil­i­a­tion af­ter the BB­BA] and take away key pres­sure to pass the broad­er BB­BA mea­sures,” he said. “It is all a Schumer call at this point. I al­so think it’s a back­up plan if [Sen. Joe] Manchin pulls the foot­ball away again on BB­BA.”

Alex Law­son

And if last week’s Sen­ate Fi­nance Com­mit­tee hear­ing on Medicare ne­go­ti­a­tions is any bell­wether, find­ing bi­par­ti­san com­pro­mise around drug pric­ing may be dif­fi­cult to do, es­pe­cial­ly if the Dems try to get it done be­fore the midterms this fall.

Re­pub­li­cans in the com­mit­tee made clear their op­po­si­tion to Medicare ne­go­ti­at­ing on prices, es­pe­cial­ly as they sought to con­vince the pub­lic that the term “ne­go­ti­a­tions” is ac­tu­al­ly clos­er to price con­trols.

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.