Two Re­pub­li­can law­mak­ers feel 'oblig­ed' to warn drug­mak­ers that De­mo­c­rat col­league Cum­mings is pur­port­ed­ly out to de­flate their stock prices

The pro­lif­ic chair­man of the Com­mit­tee on Over­sight and Re­form Eli­jah Cum­mings kicked off an in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­to “sky­rock­et­ing” drug prices in the Unit­ed States — a con­tentious is­sue that has sparked bi­par­ti­san furor — when he sent in­quiries to a dozen ma­jor drug­mak­ers seek­ing in­for­ma­tion on pric­ing prac­tices this Jan­u­ary. But it looks like two of his Re­pub­li­can col­leagues are not im­pressed with the probe, in­sin­u­at­ing that the De­mo­c­rat sen­a­tor is col­lect­ing “sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion” to bring down phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal stock prices.

Jim Jor­dan

The two rank­ing de­trac­tors, Jim Jor­dan and Mark Mead­ows — lead­ers of the con­ser­v­a­tive House Free­dom Cau­cus — last week sent across let­ters to the same slate of drug­mak­ers Cum­mings con­tact­ed, say­ing they felt “oblig­ed” to in­form the com­pa­nies that Cum­mings has pre­vi­ous­ly re­leased “sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion uni­lat­er­al­ly” as part of sep­a­rate in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

Jor­dan and Mead­ows ac­cused Cum­mings of seek­ing sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion in this in­stance that would “like­ly harm the com­pet­i­tive­ness of your com­pa­ny if dis­closed pub­licly,” ac­cus­ing the chair of “boast­ing” about the “as­tro­nom­i­cal” im­pact on stock prices the probe has had.

This charge is based on an in­com­plete, out-of-con­text quote from Cum­mings sup­plied by Jor­dan and Mead­ows in their let­ter, as un­der­scored by Buz­zFeed.

Mark Mead­ows

In their let­ter, the Re­pub­li­can law­mak­ers quote Cum­mings flag­ging the work of his staffers, os­ten­si­bly called the “drug team” that has been work­ing on drug costs: “If you fol­low the head­lines, we have al­ready seen the im­pact they have had… on stock prices with re­gard to drugs. I mean, it has been as­tro­nom­i­cal.”

But their let­ter does not of­fer con­text that at the time, Cum­mings was re­quest­ing for more funds for the Com­mit­tee on Over­sight and Re­form, which Jor­dan, as the rank­ing Over­sight Re­pub­li­can, ob­ject­ed to. Their let­ter al­so failed to men­tion that Cum­mings did not fin­ish his sen­tence at “as­tro­nom­i­cal”; he went on to say “…as­tro­nom­i­cal, sav­ing the tax­pay­ers mon­ey,” and lat­er added that what­ev­er funds his com­mit­tee were to re­ceive, it will be re­turned “in sav­ings by root­ing out fraud, waste, and abuse.”

Eli­jah Cum­mings

In­stead, Jor­dan and Mead­ows made clear in their let­ter that Cum­ming’s com­mit­tee should not em­bark up­on an “par­ti­san” in­ves­ti­ga­tion en­gi­neered to neg­a­tive­ly im­pact stock prices, al­though “we can­not spec­u­late about Chair­man Cum­mings’ mo­tives.”

Da­ta show that de­spite the high­er cost of health­care borne by the Unit­ed States, the coun­try ac­tu­al­ly per­forms worse across var­i­ous health mea­sures ver­sus a num­ber of oth­er high-in­come na­tions. Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent Politi­co/Har­vard poll, an over­whelm­ing ma­jor­i­ty of Amer­i­cans ranked ad­dress­ing the cost of med­i­cines as a top pri­or­i­ty for the new Con­gress.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has pro­posed steps to curb prices, and var­i­ous law­mak­ers have al­so made it a cor­ner­stone is­sue, in­clud­ing Sen­a­tor Chuck Grass­ley, the new chair of the Sen­ate Fi­nance Com­mit­tee, and pres­i­den­tial hope­ful Sen­a­tor Eliz­a­beth War­ren.

Nick Leschly via Getty

UP­DAT­ED: Blue­bird shares sink as an­a­lysts puz­zle out $1.8M stick­er shock and an un­ex­pect­ed de­lay

Blue­bird bio $BLUE has un­veiled its price for the new­ly ap­proved gene ther­a­py Zyn­te­glo (Lenti­Glo­bin), which came as a big sur­prise. And it wasn’t the on­ly un­ex­pect­ed twist in to­day’s sto­ry.

With some an­a­lysts bet­ting on a $900,000 price for the β-tha­lassemia treat­ment in Eu­rope, where reg­u­la­tors pro­vid­ed a con­di­tion­al ear­ly OK, blue­bird CEO Nick Leschly said Fri­day morn­ing that the pa­tients who are suc­cess­ful­ly treat­ed with their drug over 5 years will be charged twice that — $1.8 mil­lion — on the con­ti­nent. That makes this drug the sec­ond most ex­pen­sive ther­a­py on the plan­et, just be­hind No­var­tis’ new­ly ap­proved Zol­gens­ma at $2.1 mil­lion, with an­a­lysts still wait­ing to see what kind of pre­mi­um can be had in the US.

Ted Love. HAVERFORD COLLEGE

Glob­al Blood Ther­a­peu­tics poised to sub­mit ap­pli­ca­tion for ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval, with new piv­otal da­ta on its sick­le cell dis­ease drug

Global Blood Therapeutics is set to submit an application for accelerated approval in the second-half of this year, after unveiling fresh data from a late-stage trial that showed just over half the patients given the highest dose of its experimental sickle cell disease drug experienced a statistically significant improvement in oxygen-wielding hemoglobin, meeting the study's main goal.

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Gene ther­a­pies seize the top of the list of the most ex­pen­sive drugs on the plan­et — and that trend has just be­gun

Anyone looking for a few simple reasons why the gene therapy field has caught fire with the pharma giants need only look at the new list of the 10 most expensive therapies from GoodRx.

Two recently approved gene therapies sit atop this list, with Novartis’ Zolgensma crowned the king of the priciest drugs at $2.1 million. Right below is Luxturna, the $850,000 pioneer from Spark, which Roche is pushing hard to acquire as it adds a gene therapy group to the global mix.

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News­mak­ers at #EHA19: Re­gen­eron, Ar­Qule track progress on re­sponse rates

Re­gen­eron’s close­ly-watched bis­pe­cif­ic con­tin­ues to ring up high re­sponse rates

Re­gen­eron’s high-pro­file bis­pe­cif­ic REGN1979 is back in the spot­light at the Eu­ro­pean Hema­tol­ogy As­so­ci­a­tion sci­en­tif­ic con­fab. And while the stel­lar num­bers we saw at ASH have erod­ed some­what as more blood can­cer pa­tients are eval­u­at­ed, the re­sponse rates for this CD3/CD20 drug re­main high.

A to­tal of 13 out of 14 fol­lic­u­lar lym­phomas re­spond­ed to the drug, a 93% ORR, down from 100% at the last read­out. In 10 out of 14, there was a com­plete re­sponse. In dif­fuse large B-cell lym­phoma the re­sponse rate was 57% among pa­tients treat­ed at the 80 mg to 160 mg dose range. They were all com­plete re­spons­es. And 2 of these Cars were for pa­tients who had failed CAR-T ther­a­py.

Neil Woodford, Woodford Investment Management via YouTube

Un­der siege, in­vest­ment man­ag­er Wood­ford faces an­oth­er in­vest­ment shock

Em­bat­tled UK fund man­ag­er Neil Wood­ford — who has con­tro­ver­sial­ly blocked in­vestors from pulling out from his flag­ship fund to stem the blood­let­ting, af­ter a slew of dis­ap­point­ed in­vestors fled fol­low­ing a se­ries of sour bets — is now pay­ing the price for his ac­tions via an in­vestor ex­o­dus on an­oth­er fund.

Har­g­reaves Lans­down, which has in the past sold and pro­mot­ed the Wood­ford funds via its re­tail in­vest­ment plat­form, has re­port­ed­ly with­drawn £45 mil­lion — its en­tire po­si­tion — from the in­vest­ment man­ag­er’s In­come Fo­cus Fund.

Sil­i­con Val­ley's most an­tic­i­pat­ed slide deck just dropped. What does it mean for bio­phar­ma's dig­i­tal teams?

These aren’t the typ­i­cal slides you’d see at End­points — no mol­e­cules, clin­i­cal pro­grams, or p-val­ues. In­stead, we’ll talk dig­i­tal and in­ter­net trends, fac­tors that elite glob­al brands — re­gard­less of in­dus­try — must first mea­sure and un­der­stand be­fore de­ploy­ing prod­ucts in­to the world. That’s a con­cept that most of our Big Phar­ma au­di­ence is in tune with. Dig­i­tal aware­ness is key to suc­cess in the dis­cov­ery, de­vel­op­ment, and mar­ket­ing of new bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, and most of the ma­jors now have a chief dig­i­tal of­fi­cer: No­var­tis, Sanofi, and Pfiz­er, just to name a few.

J&J gains an en­thu­si­as­tic en­dorse­ment from Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump for their big new drug Spra­va­to

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has lit­tle love for Big Phar­ma, but there’s at least one new drug that just hit the mar­ket which he is en­am­ored with.

Trump, ev­i­dent­ly, has been read­ing up on J&J’s new an­ti-de­pres­sion drug, Spra­va­to. And the pres­i­dent — who of­ten likes to break out in­to a full-throat­ed at­tack on greedy drug­mak­ers — ap­par­ent­ly en­thused about the ther­a­py in a meet­ing with of­fi­cials of Vet­er­ans Af­fairs, which has long grap­pled with de­pres­sion among vet­er­ans.

In a boost to Rit­ux­an fran­chise, Roche nabs quick ap­proval for po­latuzum­ab ve­dotin

Roche’s lat­est an­ti­body-drug con­ju­gate has crossed the FDA fin­ish line, gain­ing an ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval a full two months ahead of sched­ule.

Po­livy, or po­latuzum­ab ve­dotin, is a first-in-class drug tar­get­ing CD79b — a pro­tein promi­nent in B-cell non-Hodgkin lym­phoma. It will now be mar­ket­ed for dif­fuse large B-cell lym­phoma as part of a reg­i­men that al­so in­cludes the chemother­a­py ben­damus­tine and a ver­sion of rit­ux­imab (Rit­ux­an).

An in­censed Cat­a­lyst Phar­ma sues the FDA, ac­cus­ing agency of bow­ing to po­lit­i­cal pres­sure and break­ing fed­er­al law

Af­ter hint­ing it was ex­plor­ing the le­gal­i­ty of the FDA’s ap­proval of a ri­val drug from fam­i­ly-run com­pa­ny Ja­cobus Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, Cat­a­lyst Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals on Wednes­day filed a law­suit against the health reg­u­la­tor — ef­fec­tive­ly ac­cus­ing the agency of bow­ing to po­lit­i­cal pres­sure sur­round­ing sky­rock­et­ing drug prices.

Be­fore Cat­a­lyst’s Fir­dapse (which car­ries an av­er­age an­nu­al list price of $375,000) was sanc­tioned for use in Lam­bert-Eaton myas­thenic syn­drome (LEMS) by the FDA, hun­dreds of pa­tients had been able to ac­cess a sim­i­lar drug from com­pound­ing phar­ma­cies for a frac­tion of the cost, or Ja­cobus’ for free, as part of an FDA-rat­i­fied com­pas­sion­ate use pro­gram. But the ap­proval of the Cat­a­lyst drug — ac­com­pa­nied by mar­ket ex­clu­siv­i­ty span­ning sev­en years — ef­fec­tive­ly pre­clud­ed Ja­cobus and com­pound­ing phar­ma­cies from sell­ing their ver­sions.