Three con­sid­er­a­tions for the phar­ma in­dus­try as Pres­i­dent Trump fo­cus­es on drug pric­ing

by PwC Health Ad­vi­so­ry: Kar­la An­der­son, Rick Ed­munds, Phil Sclafani, Doug Strang and Will Su­vari


Kar­la An­der­son

As a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump re­peat­ed­ly de­cried drug prices, sug­gest­ing that Amer­i­cans should be al­lowed to pur­chase the prod­ucts from abroad and that Medicare should be al­lowed to ne­go­ti­ate their prices. As pres­i­dent, he has con­tin­ued to talk about drug pric­ing. Ad­dress­ing Con­gress on Feb. 28, Trump said he would “work to bring down the ar­ti­fi­cial­ly high cost of drugs, and bring them down im­me­di­ate­ly.”

Pres­i­dent Trump and Re­pub­li­can law­mak­ers al­so have promised to re­peal and re­place the Af­ford­able Care Act (ACA), which in­clud­ed deep manda­to­ry Med­ic­aid drug re­bates and ex­pand­ed the num­ber of health­care or­ga­ni­za­tions that could par­tic­i­pate in the 340B dis­count drug pro­gram. On March 6, House Re­pub­li­cans in­tro­duced a bill, the Amer­i­can Health Care Act, or AH­CA, which rolls back the ACA’s Med­ic­aid ex­pan­sion af­ter 2019 but does not ad­dress the law’s drug re­bates or 340B pro­gram ex­pan­sion.

Al­low­ing Medicare to ne­go­ti­ate drug prices at the na­tion­al lev­el, or al­low­ing reim­por­ta­tion of prod­ucts from oth­er coun­tries, could push prices down. Ei­ther of these op­tions would face a dif­fi­cult leg­isla­tive path. Oth­er con­gres­sion­al ac­tions—such as chang­ing the FDA’s or­phan drug pro­gram to nar­row prod­uct el­i­gi­bil­i­ty or cap prices, or re­quir­ing com­pa­nies to jus­ti­fy price in­creas­es at pub­lic hear­ings—may lead to new pol­i­cy pro­pos­als, or new pres­sure on com­pa­nies to ex­plain the prices of spe­cif­ic prod­ucts (see fig­ure 1 for a list of pol­i­cy pro­pos­als).

Pres­i­dent Trump’s de­sire to bring pri­vate sec­tor tools to bear on pub­lic sec­tor pro­grams, such as cre­at­ing a more com­pet­i­tive en­vi­ron­ment for health­care prod­ucts and in­creas­ing cor­po­rate trans­paren­cy, dove­tails with state-lev­el trans­paren­cy pro­pos­als. In Mary­land, a pro­posed state law would re­quire a raft of new dis­clo­sures for drugs that cost more than $2,500 a year. Six­teen states are con­sid­er­ing sim­i­lar leg­is­la­tion to in­crease com­pa­nies’ dis­clo­sures.

These state-lev­el ef­forts can even­tu­al­ly lead to na­tion­al pol­i­cy. CMS’ Open Pay­ments law, al­so known as the “Sun­shine Act,” was born on the state lev­el be­fore it was adopt­ed as part of the ACA.

Three con­sid­er­a­tions for the in­dus­try

Make a plan. At least sev­en ma­jor drug com­pa­nies have tak­en steps to make drug prices more trans­par­ent, or have com­mit­ted to lim­it­ing an­nu­al price in­creas­es. It’s too ear­ly to eval­u­ate whether these ini­tia­tives go far enough to counter on­go­ing crit­i­cism of in­dus­try pric­ing prac­tices. Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal and life sci­ences com­pa­nies are un­der pres­sure from all sides—in­clud­ing from in­vestors—to jus­ti­fy pric­ing de­ci­sions. Drug­mak­ers should plan for sce­nar­ios that may re­quire new R&D and oth­er fi­nan­cial dis­clo­sures re­lat­ed to spe­cif­ic drugs. Lim­it­ing sharp price in­creas­es, es­pe­cial­ly for sin­gle-source drugs treat­ing high-cost or so­cial­ly po­lar­iz­ing con­di­tions, can help drug­mak­ers avoid dam­ag­ing head­lines and in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

The ac­tion is in the states. Last year, Ver­mont be­came the first state to en­act drug-pric­ing trans­paren­cy re­quire­ments. New prod­uct-spe­cif­ic re­port­ing re­quire­ments in states like Mary­land or New York could in­flu­ence leg­is­la­tion in oth­er states, or at the fed­er­al lev­el. Con­duct­ing in­ter­nal analy­ses of pric­ing pat­terns across brands can help drug­mak­ers de­vel­op nar­ra­tives to de­fend pric­ing de­ci­sions and in­flu­ence new trans­paren­cy reg­u­la­tions.

Con­sid­er nov­el ap­proach­es. Val­ue-based con­tract­ing may help pro­tect pric­ing pre­mi­ums for prod­ucts that de­liv­er their in­tend­ed out­comes. Mi­cro­fi­nanc­ing op­tions may im­prove pa­tient ac­cess to high-cost spe­cial­ty and rare dis­ease drugs.  Over­all, shift­ing the fo­cus from in­di­vid­ual drug pric­ing to­wards phar­ma­coeco­nom­ic val­ue is in the best in­ter­est of all stake­hold­ers.

 

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion and new state-lev­el pro­pos­als could im­pact drug prices

Pro­pos­al Po­ten­tial im­pact Sta­tus
State-lev­el price caps, price in­crease lim­its, or price trans­paren­cy reg­u­la­tions Lim­it­ed abil­i­ty to dri­ve rev­enue growth through pric­ing will sharp­en the need for vol­ume and share growth, putting a pre­mi­um on in­no­va­tion. Trac­tion on the state lev­el could in­spire fed­er­al ef­forts. Pend­ing in 16 states—The phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­dus­try spent more than $100 mil­lion to de­feat a Cal­i­for­nia pro­pos­al in 2016 that would have capped drug prices paid by state in­sur­ance plans to the re­bate price paid by the De­part­ment of Vet­er­ans Af­fairs.
Re­peal ACA Med­ic­aid re­bates Re­peal of the Med­ic­aid drug re­bate would raise prices for prod­ucts used by Med­ic­aid ben­e­fi­cia­ries. No mo­men­tum—AH­CA does not re­peal Med­ic­aid drug re­bates, which knock an av­er­age of 23.1% off the av­er­age man­u­fac­tur­er price.
Re­peal ACA 340B pro­gram ex­pan­sion Rein­ing in the 340B ex­pan­sion would be a win for drug­mak­ers, but could lim­it ac­cess to heav­i­ly dis­count­ed 340B drugs. No mo­men­tum—AH­CA does not re­scind 340B ex­pan­sion. A pro­posed rule adding ad­di­tion­al 340B over­sight was with­drawn.
Al­low Medicare Part D to ne­go­ti­ate drug prices A Con­gres­sion­al Bud­get Of­fice (CBO) analy­sis de­ter­mined that Medicare ne­go­ti­a­tions wouldn’t bring down prices sub­stan­tial­ly. In dis­cus­sion—No spe­cif­ic pro­pos­al has emerged that would al­low Medicare to cen­tral­ly ne­go­ti­ate prices for all Part D plans.
Al­low reim­por­ta­tion of drug prod­ucts A 13-year-old CBO as­sess­ment pre­dicts on­ly a small re­duc­tion in prices from reim­por­ta­tion. In dis­cus­sion—No cur­rent leg­isla­tive path. A bill that would have al­lowed drug im­ports from Cana­da was vot­ed down by Sen­ate Re­pub­li­cans and De­moc­rats in Jan­u­ary.
Tweets and oth­er pub­lic sham­ing Pres­i­den­tial tweets and con­gres­sion­al fo­cus could im­pact stock prices, drug prices and prod­uct com­mer­cial­iza­tion plans. Ac­tion tak­en—Con­gres­sion­al hear­ings and Pres­i­den­tial tweets could con­tin­ue.

Biotech Voic­es is a con­tributed ar­ti­cle to End­points News. 

The top 10 block­buster drugs in the late-stage pipeline — Eval­u­ate adds 6 new ther­a­pies to heavy-hit­ter list

Vertex comes in for a substantial amount of criticism for its no-holds-barred tactical approach toward wresting the price it wants for its commercial drugs in Europe. But the flip side of that coin is a highly admired R&D and commercial operation that regularly wins kudos from analysts for their ability to engineer greater cash flow from the breakthrough drugs they create.

Both aspects needed for success in this business are on display in the program backing Vertex’s triple for cystic fibrosis. VX-659/VX-445 + Tezacaftor + Ivacaftor — it’s been whittled down to 445 now — was singled out by Evaluate Pharma as the late-stage therapy most likely to win the crown for drug sales in 5 years, with a projected peak revenue forecast of $4.3 billion.

The latest annual list, which you can see here in their latest world preview, includes a roster of some of the most closely watched development programs in biopharma. And Evaluate has added 6 must-watch experimental drugs to the top 10 as drugs fail or go on to a first approval. With apologies to the list maker, I revamped this to rank the top 10 by projected 2024 sales, instead of Evaluate's net present value rankings.

It's how we roll at Endpoints News.

Here is a quick summary of the rest of the top 10:

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How small- to mid-sized biotechs can adopt pa­tient cen­tric­i­ty in their on­col­o­gy tri­als

By Lucy Clos­sick Thom­son, Se­nior Di­rec­tor of On­col­o­gy Pro­ject Man­age­ment, Icon

Clin­i­cal tri­als in on­col­o­gy can be cost­ly and chal­leng­ing to man­age. One fac­tor that could re­duce costs and re­duce bar­ri­ers is har­ness­ing the pa­tient voice in tri­al de­sign to help ac­cel­er­ate pa­tient en­roll­ment. Now is the time to adopt pa­tient-cen­tric strate­gies that not on­ly fo­cus on pa­tient needs, but al­so can main­tain cost ef­fi­cien­cy.

John Reed at JPM 2019. Jeff Rumans for Endpoints News

Sanofi's John Reed con­tin­ues to re­or­ga­nize R&D, cut­ting 466 jobs while boost­ing can­cer, gene ther­a­py re­search

The R&D reorganization inside Sanofi is continuing, more than a year after the pharma giant brought in John Reed to head the research arm of the Paris-based company.
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UP­DAT­ED: Chica­go biotech ar­gues blue­bird, Third Rock 'killed' its ri­val, pi­o­neer­ing tha­lassemia gene ther­a­py in law­suit

Blue­bird bio $BLUE chief Nick Leschly court­ed con­tro­ver­sy last week when he re­vealed the com­pa­ny’s be­ta tha­lassemia treat­ment will car­ry a jaw-drop­ping $1.8 mil­lion price tag over a 5-year pe­ri­od in Eu­rope — mak­ing it the plan­et’s sec­ond most ex­pen­sive ther­a­py be­hind No­var­tis’ $NVS fresh­ly ap­proved spinal mus­cu­lar at­ro­phy ther­a­py, Zol­gens­ma, at $2.1 mil­lion. A Chica­go biotech, mean­while, has been fum­ing at the side­lines. In a law­suit filed ear­li­er this month, Er­rant Gene Ther­a­peu­tics al­leged that blue­bird and ven­ture cap­i­tal group Third Rock un­law­ful­ly prised a vi­ral vec­tor, de­vel­oped in part­ner­ship with the Memo­r­i­al Sloan Ket­ter­ing Can­cer Cen­ter (MSK), from its grasp, and thwart­ed the de­vel­op­ment of its sem­i­nal gene ther­a­py.

A new num­ber 1 drug? Keytru­da tapped to top the 10 biggest block­busters on the world stage by 2024

Analysts may be fretting about Keytruda’s longterm prospects as a host of rival therapies elbow their way to the market. But the folks at Evaluate Pharma are confident that last year’s $7 billion earner is headed for glory, tapping it to beat out the current #1 therapy Humira as AbbVie watches that franchise swoon over the next 5 years.

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John Chiminski, Catalent CEO - File Photo

'It's a growth play': Catal­ent ac­quires Bris­tol-My­er­s' Eu­ro­pean launch pad, ex­pand­ing glob­al CD­MO ops

Catalent is staying on the growth track.

Just two months after committing $1.2 billion to pick up Paragon and take a deep dive into the sizzling hot gene therapy manufacturing sector, the CDMO is bouncing right back with a deal to buy out Bristol-Myers’ central launchpad for new therapies in Europe, acquiring a complex in Anagni, Italy, southwest of Rome, that will significantly expand its capacity on the continent.

There are no terms being offered, but this is no small deal. The Anagni campus employs some 700 staffers, and Catalent is planning to go right in — once the deal closes late this year — with a blueprint to build up the operations further as they expand on oral solid, biologics, and sterile product manufacturing and packaging.

This is an uncommon deal, Catalent CEO John Chiminski tells me. But it offers a shortcut for rapid growth that cuts years out of developing a green fields project. That’s time Catalent doesn’t have as the industry undergoes unprecedented expansion around the world.

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Step­ping on Roche's toes, Mer­ck cuts in­to SCLC niche with third-line Keytru­da OK

In the in­creas­ing­ly crowd­ed check­point race, small cell lung can­cer has been a rare area where Roche, a sec­ond run­ner-up, has a lead over the en­trenched lead­ers Mer­ck and Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb. But Mer­ck is fi­nal­ly mak­ing some head­way in that di­rec­tion with the lat­est ap­proval for its PD-1 star.

The lat­est green light en­dors­es Keytru­da in the third-line treat­ment of metasta­t­ic SCLC, where it would be giv­en to pa­tients whose dis­ease ei­ther don’t re­spond to or re­lapse af­ter chemother­a­py, which would have fol­lowed at least one pri­or line of ther­a­py.

Arc­turus ex­pands col­lab­o­ra­tion, adding $30M cash; Ku­ra shoots for $100M raise

→  Rare dis­ease play­er Ul­tragenyx $RARE is ex­pand­ing its al­liance with Arc­turus $ARCT, pay­ing $24 mil­lion for eq­ui­ty and an­oth­er $6 mil­lion in an up­front as the two part­ners ex­pand their col­lab­o­ra­tion to in­clude up to 12 tar­gets. “This ex­pand­ed col­lab­o­ra­tion fur­ther so­lid­i­fies our mR­NA plat­form by adding ad­di­tion­al tar­gets and ex­pand­ing our abil­i­ty to po­ten­tial­ly treat more dis­eases,” said Emil Kakkis, the CEO at Ul­tragenyx. “We are pleased with the progress of our on­go­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion. Our most ad­vanced mR­NA pro­gram, UX053 for the treat­ment of Glyco­gen Stor­age Dis­ease Type III, is ex­pect­ed to move in­to the clin­ic next year, and we look for­ward to fur­ther build­ing up­on the ini­tial suc­cess of this part­ner­ship.”

Neil Woodford. Woodford Investment Management via YouTube

Wood­ford braces po­lit­i­cal storm as UK fi­nan­cial reg­u­la­tors scru­ti­nize fund sus­pen­sion

The shock of Neil Wood­ford’s de­ci­sion to block with­drawals for his flag­ship fund is still rip­pling through the rest of his port­fo­lio — and be­yond. Un­der po­lit­i­cal pres­sure, UK fi­nan­cial reg­u­la­tors are now tak­ing a hard look while in­vestors con­tin­ue to flee.

In a re­sponse let­ter to an MP, the Fi­nan­cial Con­duct Au­thor­i­ty re­vealed that it’s opened an in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­to the sus­pen­sion fol­low­ing months of en­gage­ment with Link Fund So­lu­tions, which tech­ni­cal­ly del­e­gat­ed Wood­ford’s firm to man­age its funds.