Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
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Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
Pharmaguy curates and provides insights into selected drug industry news and issues.
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"The Night Of" Creator is Sanofi/Regeneron Spokesperson for Atopic Dermatitis Awareness Campaign

"The Night Of" Creator is Sanofi/Regeneron Spokesperson for Atopic Dermatitis Awareness Campaign | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

TV writer Peter Moffat has an intimate knowledge of severe atopic dermatitis; he’s lived with it for 50 years. Moffat even wrote the condition into his hit BBC series “Criminal Justice,” which became the hit HBO miniseries “The Night Of.” Both shows feature a lawyer named Stone with noticeable atopic dermatitis on his always-sandaled feet.

 

Now, Moffat has teamed up with Regeneron, Sanofi and the National Eczema Association on an atopic dermatitis disease awareness effort called “Understand AD: A Day in the Life.” The featured “day in the life” short film is one that Moffat wrote, directed and narrated to bring the reality of eczema and atopic dermatitis into clearer view. It follows a young woman with atopic dermatitis and shows how everyday items like a sink, bleach, lotion and even a hairbrush play into her life in ways they don’t for people without the skin condition.

 

“What was great about ‘The Night Of,’ among many things, was the response of the community at large to the story of (John Turturro’s character John Stone’s) disease, which probably for the first time in American television was laid out in all its proper, full story.

 

Sanofi and Regeneron market the treatment Dupixent, approved in March as the first drug to inhibit the IL-4 and IL-13 immune system pathways, and the first new treatment in years for atopic dermatitis.

Pharma Guy's insight:

Analysts expect the drug to reach peak sales of $4 billion. Whaaa! How much does this drug cost per treatment?

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Major #Pharma Companies Sued for Colluding to Raise Insulin Prices

Major #Pharma Companies Sued for Colluding to Raise Insulin Prices | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

The latest dustup over the rising price of insulin has found its way to a federal court, where several consumers are accusing the three biggest manufacturers — Sanofi, Eli Lilly, and Novo Nordisk — of running a coordinated scheme that has caused patients economic harm.

 

The lawsuit arrives two months after Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) and Representative Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) asked the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the companies for price collusion. They cited a pattern in which prices for insulin often rose in tandem over several years and expressed concern the drug makers conspired to raise prices and, as a result, drove up the cost for patients and taxpayers.

 

Indeed, the lawsuit makes similar allegations, charging the companies raised prices on their drugs by more than 150 percent and that, as a result, some consumers pay almost $900 each month. “Drugs that used to cost $25 per prescription now cost between $300 and $450 a month,” according to the lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in Boston and seeks class-action status.

 

The latest accusations follow months of reports about skyrocketing costs for insulin (read “Soaring Insulin Prices Impact Patients Every Day!”; http://sco.lt/7iQKZt ).

 

A study last year, for instance, in the Journal of the American Medical Association found the price for a milliliter of insulin climbed 197 percent from $4.34 per to $12.92 between 2002 and 2013. More than 29 million Americans, or 9.3 percent of the population, have some form of diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 

Pharma Guy's insight:

Also read “Sanofi & Novo Nordisk Raise Diabetes Drug Prices in "Lockstep" With One Another”; http://sco.lt/7sltK5  and “Why Is Insulin So Expensive In The U.S.?”; http://sco.lt/9K9FJJ  and “Soaring Insulin Prices Impact Patients Every Day!”; http://sco.lt/7iQKZt 

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Taxotere: A Chemo Drug Bringing More Suffering to Women’s Lives

Taxotere is an unnecessary chemo drug that is adding even more suffering to women’s lives. America’s Lawyer, Mike Papantonio, and attorney Ben Gordon discuss this.

Pharma Guy's insight:

"[These women] look like Ben Franklin!" I guess the lawyer being interviewed is representing patients harmed by taxotere in lawsuits. For more on this issue, read "sanofi aventis Feels the Social Media Pain"; http://bit.ly/SASMpain 

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Lifting of Iran Sanctions Good for Sanofi and Other #Pharma Companies

Lifting of Iran Sanctions Good for Sanofi and Other #Pharma Companies | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Iran’s media reported on Friday that the country had signed a crucial deal with the major French pharmaceutical company Sanofi over the production of key drugs and the management of chronic diseases.  


Iran’s official news agency IRNA said the deal had been signed between Iran’s Healthy Ministry and Sanofi, adding that this was among 20 agreements that Iran and France signed on Thursday in a ceremony overseen by the presidents of the two countries – Hassan Rouhani and Francois Hollande.     


IRNA has quoted Sanofi board chairman Serge Weinberg as saying that the deal envisages cooperation with Iran in three separate areas. The first area is transferring the expertise over the production of drugs for chronic and non-contagious diseases to Sanofi’s local partners. The second area is to cooperate with Iran’s Health Ministry over preventing and controlling chronic and non-contagious diseases particularly diabetes.  And the third, Weinberg said, is to look for the mechanisms to promote future cooperation over launching joint epidemiological researches. 

Pharma Guy's insight:

Will American pharma companies - what's left of them! - be next to sign deals like this?

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Sanofi's DTC ROI for Afrezza: Lost 53 Cents for Every $1 Spent!

Sanofi's DTC ROI for Afrezza: Lost 53 Cents for Every $1 Spent! | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it
Sanofi spent $3.75 million on advertising for Afrezza in the third quarter of 2015 yet the therapy only brought in about $2 million in revenue.


Sanofi in April will stop marketing Afrezza, MannKind's inhaled insulin, citing the low number of prescriptions even though the drugmaker made what it described as a “substantial” investment in sales and marketing, including the launch of the “Surprise, it's insulin” campaign in mid-2015.

Pharma Guy's insight:

The last time DTC ad ROI was in negative territory was when Abe Lincoln was sleep-deprived "president" in Rozerem sleep-aid ads. Takeda spent more on ads than the drug made back in sales: between January and September 2006, Rozerem earned $48.7 million in estimated wholesale revenue, according to IMS Health (that number does not include prescriptions handled by mail). But the company spent nearly $100 million on ads, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. More about that here: http://bit.ly/lincolnshotdead 

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Sales of Afrezza Inhaled Insulin Stymied by FDA Says Sanofi

Sales of Afrezza Inhaled Insulin Stymied by FDA Says Sanofi | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

The launch of MannKind's inhaled insulin Afrezza fell far short of expectations, bringing in about $1.1 million in its first seven weeks on the market, despite analyst predictions of a blockbuster.


Sanofi, MannKind's commercial partner for the drug, attributed the lower-than-expected sales to the FDA's requirement that patients undergo lung tests before starting treatment and while using the therapy as well as the broader need to raise awareness about the product. The drugmaker plans to launch a DTC campaign this summer. “It will take time for Afrezza to demonstrate its potential,” a Sanofi spokeswoman said,


But experts say the increasingly competitive nature of the US insulin market, especially when it relates to pricing, and the trend toward more stringent insurance reimbursement may have more to do with the slow adoption of Afrezza than a lack of awareness among diabetes patients and endocrinologists.

Pharma Guy's insight:

UPDATE (1/5/2016): Sanofi terminated its license agreement related to the development and commercialisation of MannKind's inhaled insulin therapy Afrezza, MannKind said today (here). MannKind noted that the deal will be terminated no later than six months from the effective date of Sanofi's notice or July 4. MannKind added that it "is reviewing its strategic options for Afrezza as a result of the termination."

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Which Silo Funds Patient Support Within #BigPharma, Mid Pharma, & Little #Pharma?

Which Silo Funds Patient Support Within #BigPharma, Mid Pharma, & Little #Pharma? | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Patient-oriented programs have risen in importance within the pharmaceutical industry as regulators and payers have placed more emphasis on patient outcomes and consumers have taken a more active role in their healthcare decisions.


Across the industry, organizations are embracing patient centricity (as the trend has been labeled in pharma).


You don't have to look any further than last year when Sanofi appointed a Chief Patient Officer to its executive ranks (listen to this podcast: The Three Pillars of Sanofi's Patient-Centric Strategy) or when Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. announced a reorganization that the global company's president said was designed to ensure there was "...greater proximity to the patients and our customers in order to truly understand their needs and respond appropriately."


With regulators and payers pushing for better health outcomes, pharma understands its business model needs to generate better results, both clinically and economically. Thus, pharma companies large and small are focusing on becoming more patient-oriented across their operations to make sure they are providing products and services that improve health.


Best Practices, LLC conducted a primary research project at the end of 2014 to capture the current state of affairs in pharma's move to patient centricity. The resulting report, "Patient Support Excellence: Structure, Activities and Resource Levels to Ensure Patient-Centric Products and Services," produced reliable industry metrics on current patient support group structure, resource levels, activities and partners.

Pharma Guy's insight:

 

Key Findings  (Best Practices)

Patient Support Structure Varies by Company Size (Large Company Segment (LCS), Midsize Company Segment (MCS), Small Company Segment (SCS)):

Patient Support Reporting Line
43% of LCS reports to Marketing
33% of MCS reports to Commercial
50% of SCS have dedicated PS group

Patient Support Group Structure
42% of LCS is decentralized (14% centralized)
66% of MCS is decentralized
66% of SCS is centralized

  • Marketing is Key Function Found within Patient Support Groups: Marketing was the only function that a majority (53%) of participants said resides within their Patient Support group. Commercial and Patient Advocacy were the second most common functions (42%).
  • Brand Teams Principal Funding Source for Patient Support Programs: 47% of respondents said brand/product teams were their Patient Support programs’ principal funder. Company-wide business units were the next largest principal funder at 41%. Meanwhile, a majority said medical was not a contributor to their program.


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Look Ma! No Bong! Afrezza Inhaled Insulin Device is a Cool Gadget

Look Ma! No Bong! Afrezza Inhaled Insulin Device is a Cool Gadget | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Afrezza is a drug–device combination product that consists of a dry formulation of human insulin delivered from a small and portable inhaler to help patients achieve blood sugar control. Afrezza is rapidly absorbed and has a short duration of action. It is administered at the beginning of a meal.

This is a vast improvement over the Exubera "Bong" that Pfizer attempted to launch back in 2007. In June of that year, Amy Tenderich, author behind award-winning blog Diabetes Mine, wrote:

"Because for any PWD [person with diabetes] with an actual social life, Exubera inhaled insulin is looking like a bomb. As I told the reps at the ADA conference frankly, the science behind it IS revolutionary, and we PWDs are grateful for strides in alternative insulin delivery, of course! But the Exubera Inhaler Device really is as bad as it looks in pictures. Worse, because the bulky 'white' plastic portions are not white at all, but that hospital-grade biege that reminds you of walkers and bedpans. An aesthetic nightmare, in the age of cool gadgetry" (see "Are you happy to see me, or is that just your Exubera Bong?").

The Afrezza device is definitely a cool bit of gadgetry! This may be the first time that a drug/device was designed based on fostering relations with patients via social media, something that Pfizer may have learned too late. How so?


Read more here.

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Sanofi Can No Longer Raise Diabetes Drug Prices to Drive Growth & Satisfy Investors

Sanofi Can No Longer Raise Diabetes Drug Prices to Drive Growth & Satisfy Investors | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

For another clue to the unrest on Sanofi's ($SNY) board, take a look at the third-quarter earnings report. There's not much red ink on the page, that's true: Sales are up 4%. Earnings up 8%. CEO Chris Viehbacher's growth platforms surged by 10%. The trouble lies in Viehbacher's canned quote.


"We have recently seen a more challenging U.S. diabetes price environment which will impact our diabetes sales throughout 2015," Viehbacher said in Sanofi's earnings release. That bland statement spelled doom to investors, triggering a selloff. Shares dropped the most in 5 years, Reuters notes, and slashed Sanofi's market value by €9.2 billion ($11.7 billion).


Sanofi's diabetes franchise has been a huge growth driver, thanks to Lantus, which dominates its category. It's by far the biggest seller in Sanofi's entire portfolio, and when it comes to diabetes, Sanofi's other meds are also-rans by comparison. For the quarter, Lantus brought in €1.57 billion, an 8% increase. So far this year, it's racked up €4.57 billion ($5.83 billion), up almost 9%.


Check out the drug's U.S. sales, though. For the year, they're up more than 13%. For the third quarter? 5.8%. That's a big slowdown. With some two-thirds of Lantus sales in the States, growth-engine trouble in the country is a major drag. And now, Sanofi expects its diabetes franchise to sit idling.


Problem is, Sanofi has fueled Lantus growth not only by pumping up volume, but by raising prices. U.S. prices, to be exact. From 2007 to 2013, the price increase amounted to 160%, according to Bloomberg data.


No more. Pricing pressure in the diabetes market is intense, thanks to big payers and their newly exclusionary formularies. While list prices may not change much, rebates are rising, which means a big bite out of net sales. Pharmacy benefits managers Express Scripts, CVS Caremark and their smaller rivals have pitted drugmakers against one another to win discounts, leaving some products out in the cold.


While Lantus isn't one of those products, except in a couple of cases, the Q3 earnings release suggests that Sanofi had to push down prices to keep its preferred placement on some top formularies that went into effect Aug. 1.


Plus, Lantus is now facing biosimilar competition from Eli Lilly ($LLY) and Boehringer Ingelheim, which won European approval of their knockoff version. European sales of Lantus aren't that large, and in the U.S., Sanofi has managed to hold Lilly and Boehringer off with a patent lawsuit. The infringement fight could keep their copycat product off the U.S. market till 2017. But sales erosion in Europe only adds to the pressure on Sanofi's franchise.

Pharma Guy's insight:


I wonder if this means curtains for the U.S. Diabetes Social Media Team, which received the 3rd Annual Pharmaguy Social Media Pioneer Award? One of the recipients -- Dennis Urbaniak, former VP U.S. Diabetes at Sanofi -- jumped ship to join Accenture.

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Just Because There's a Surge in Taxotere Lawsuit Filings, Does Not Mean the Cases Are Frivolous

Just Because There's a Surge in Taxotere Lawsuit Filings, Does Not Mean the Cases Are Frivolous | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

A recent, sudden surge in Taxotere lawsuit filings in the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Louisiana has caught Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch's attention.

 

According to a news release from Schmidt National Law Group, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation's Feb. 15 docket report shows 755 pending actions in the Taxotere litigation, up 50 from the panel's Jan. 17 report. Bernstein Liebhard LLP in New York reported in its Jan. 20 news release that the 705 pending actions as of Jan. 17, 2017, showed an increase of 443 pending actions in the Louisiana district since Dec. 16, 2016.

 

LLAW Executive Director Melissa Landry said the surge in lawsuits is a result of vigorous advertising by personal-injury attorneys.

 

Taxotere is a cancer medication that doctors use to treat breast, lung, prostate, stomach and head or neck cancer, according to drugs.com. The lawsuits allege Taxotere caused permanent hair loss.

 

Carrie Brown, the senior director of communications at Sanofi, the company that makes Taxotere, said in a December Louisiana Record story that the company has regularly provided safety information on Taxotere to the Food and Drug Administration.

 

According to the FDA website, the warning that cases of permanent hair loss had been reported showed up on Taxotere's label in the United States in December 2015. Brown said that the company made that change in December 2015 after the company spoke with the FDA.

 

Further Reading:

Pharma Guy's insight:

Did it take 5 years for Sanofi to report this problem? Back in 2005, I wrote this blog post: “Disgruntled Patient Shuts Down sanofi-aventis Facebook Page”; http://bit.ly/c83Ydr about Shirley Ledlie who claimed sanofi-aventis (S-A) mislead her about the side effects of cancer drug Taxotere.]

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How Sanofi Pasteur & U.S. Gov't Collaborate to Develop Zika Vaccine

How Sanofi Pasteur & U.S. Gov't Collaborate to Develop Zika Vaccine | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Sanofi and its vaccines global business unit Sanofi Pasteur announced today a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) on the co-development of a Zika vaccine candidate. According to the terms of the agreement, WRAIR will transfer its Zika purified inactivated virus (ZPIV) vaccine technology to Sanofi Pasteur, opening the door for a broader collaboration with the U.S. government.

 

The agreement also includes Sanofi Pasteur's production of clinical material in compliance with current GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) to support phase II testing, optimization of the upstream process to improve production yields, and characterization of the vaccine product. Sanofi Pasteur will also create a clinical development and regulatory strategy.

 

WRAIR will share data related to the development of immunologic assays designed to measure neutralizing antibody responses following natural infection and vaccination with ZPIV, biologic samples generated during the performance of non-human primate studies, and biologic samples generated during the performance of human safety and immunogenicity studies using ZPIV. WRAIR, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) - part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) - part of the Health & Human Services (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response - have been coordinating pre-clinical development of the candidate encouraged by new, pre-clinical research conducted by WRAIR and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center[1]. NIAID will sponsor a series of phase 1 ZPIV trials while the technology transfer process is occurring.

Pharma Guy's insight:

Also read: "When Does It Makes Economic Sense for #Pharma Industry to Develop Vaccines vs Drugs?"; http://sco.lt/7adpSb

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Disparity in Life Spans of Rich vs Poor More Than Doubled Since 70s

Disparity in Life Spans of Rich vs Poor More Than Doubled Since 70s | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Experts have long known that rich people generally live longer than poor people. But a growing body of data shows a more disturbing pattern: Despite big advances in medicine, technology and education, the longevity gap between high-income and low-income Americans has been widening sharply.

The poor are losing ground not only in income, but also in years of life, the most basic measure of well-being. In the early 1970s, a 60-year-old man in the top half of the earnings ladder could expect to live 1.2 years longer than a man of the same age in the bottom half, according to an analysis by the Social Security Administration. Fast-forward to 2001, and he could expect to live 5.8 years longer than his poorer counterpart.

New research released on Friday contains even more jarring numbers. Looking at the extreme ends of the income spectrum, economists at the Brookings Institution found that for men born in 1920, there was a six-year difference in life expectancy between the top 10 percent of earners and the bottom 10 percent. For men born in 1950, that difference had more than doubled, to 14 years.

For women, the gap grew to 13 years, from 4.7 years.

“There has been this huge spreading out,” said Gary Burtless, one of the authors of the study.

The growing chasm is alarming policy makers, and has surfaced in the presidential campaign. During the Democratic debate Thursday night, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton expressed concern over shortening life spans for some Americans.

Pharma Guy's insight:

"One of the things that makes me most proud to be part of this industry is seeing that life expectancy has gone from 67 to 81 in a generation," said Chris Viehbacher Immediate Past Chairman of the PhRMA Board and former CEO of Sanofi. "It really shows the positive impact we've had on people and families across America." Well, not all families and not everywhere in America. For more on that see: http://bit.ly/PhRMApotemkin 

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Sanofi to Terminate US Diabetes (?) Employees as Part of "Sizable" Cut

Sanofi to Terminate US Diabetes (?) Employees as Part of "Sizable" Cut | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it
Layoffs are expected at Sanofi, with most of the cuts probably happening in the United States.


Chris Viehbacher was sacked amid unusually public boardroom tumult, notably a conflict with Sanofi chairman Serge Weinberg. His departure followed an unexpected strategic setback as the drug maker dialed back sales forecasts for its all-important diabetes business, which is about 21 percent of overall sales.


Meanwhile, a follow-on product is not showing signs of generating needed replacement revenue and a biosimilar version of Lantus will become available at the end of this year. And a deal to sell the MannKind inhaled insulin product known as Afrezza was just ended due to terrible sales.


“They’re facing a very difficult situation,” said David Kliff of Diabetic Investor, who expects the cuts to be significant. “Their top diabetes product is going away and replacement products are not doing well. They have no choice but to reorganize.”


Pharma Guy's insight:

I hope this does not include any of the Digitally Savvy Women Pioneers in my list: http://bit.ly/dswpharma 

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Sanofi's Heart Felt - True Patient Stories, But a Boring Documentary!

Sanofi's Heart Felt - True Patient Stories, But a Boring Documentary! | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it
Take a look at the trailer for Heart Felt—an eye-opening documentary by Academy Award® winner Cynthia Wade and brought to you by Sanofi and Regeneron.


True Stories of Life in the Shadow of High LDL Cholesterol

This documentary film captures the stories of people across five different countries engaged in a fight against the same common enemy—LDL cholesterol (LDL-C). It shows their struggles, reveals their fears, and tells true stories of courage—taking a condition that too often goes unnoticed and making it felt.

Pharma Guy's insight:


C'mon Sanofi! Did you really need an award-winning documentary filmmaker to produce a feature-length movie about cholesterol that looks and sounds like dozens of other similar movies/commercials I've seen created by nameless ad agencies?

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Sanofi & Novo Nordisk Raise Diabetes Drug Prices in "Lockstep" With One Another

Sanofi & Novo Nordisk Raise Diabetes Drug Prices in "Lockstep" With One Another | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

On May 30 last year, the price for a vial of the blockbuster diabetes medication Lantus went up by 16.1 percent. On the next day, Lantus’s direct competitor, Levemir, also registered a price increase -- of 16.1 percent.


The pattern repeated itself six months later when Lantus, from French drugmaker Sanofi, was marked up 11.9 percent, and Levemir, made by Novo Nordisk A/S, matched again exactly.


In 13 instances since 2009, prices of Lantus and Levemir -- which dominate the global market for long-acting injectable insulin with $11 billion in combined sales -- have gone up in tandem in the U.S., according to SSR Health, a market researcher in Montclair, New Jersey.


Contrary to the consumer’s ideal in which bare-knuckled rivals cut prices to grab market share, competitors in branded pharmaceuticals often drive each other’s prices higher. This behavior, known as “shadow pricing,” is one reason U.S. drug costs are surging. Prescription spending rose 13 percent last year to $374 billion, according to IMS Health Holdings Inc.

Pharma Guy's insight:


I fail to see how this is "Patient Centric." It's a question I should ask Dr. Anne Beal, Chief Patient Officer (CPO), at Sanofi, who spoke about the "Chief Patient Officer of the Future" during a recent Pharma Marketing Talk podcast: http://bit.ly/PMT232 

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Letizia Affinito's curator insight, May 7, 2015 1:52 PM

As healthcare stakeholders keep using the word "patient-centric", one must be wondering, how can health communicators working in pharma support and facilitate patients’ desires for greater inclusion and authority in their care and still turn a profit?

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Sanofi's Pick of Olivier Brandicourt as its new CEO: Another "Stunning Failure?"

Sanofi's Pick of Olivier Brandicourt as its new CEO: Another "Stunning Failure?" | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Last month the French pharma company, Sanofi, named Olivier Brandicourt as its new CEO. Brandicourt had been the chief executive of Bayer's health care unit and while he may eventually prove to be a visionary chief executive, at least at this point the move strikes some people as a typical example of French "Maginot Line" thinking.


The Maginot Line was the way France's military planners of the 1930s thought they could repel any German invasion. The strategic thinkers alá Francais erected a series of concrete structures along much of their eastern border. Each emplacement contained gunnery that was cemented to face the east, so it could drive back a German onslaught. The French general staff rejected arguments from Charles De Gaulle and others who argued that mobility, not static fortification, would prevail in the upcoming war. Alas, when the Germans did invade, they came through Belgium from the north and went on to conquer France in four weeks.


Statements from Sanofi's board and several observers make the point that the company named Brandicourt as CEO to deal with price erosion in the U.S. diabetes market. Diabetes accounts for more than 20% of Sanofi’s revenue.  


It puzzled many people that a company expressing concern about pricing in the U.S. market would appoint as its CEO a French physician whose work in pharmaceuticals had focused heavily on emerging markets.


Sanofi's public information people likely anticipated this skepticism because their announcement noted that before Brandicourt went to Bayer, he gained substantial U.S. experience at Pfizer by “overseeing” the Lipitor launch and the marketing management of developing metabolic compounds.


The references to Brandicourt's work at Pfizer failed to dispel the doubts.  The metabolic experience was hardly an unblemished success. A notable feature of it included the $2.8 billion write-down Pfizer had to take on Exubera, the disastrous effort to treat diabetes by inhaling insulin from an unwieldy bong. Analyst Mike Krensavage of Raymond James & Associates said at the time (2007), "This is one of the most stunning failures in the history of the pharmaceutical industry."

Pharma Guy's insight:


Speaking of Pfizer's stunning Exubera failure, you might be interested in this followup to that story: Look Ma! No Bong! Afrezza Inhaled Insulin Device is a Cool Gadget

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Drugmaker Sanofi Fired Its CEO For Being Insufficiently French?

Drugmaker Sanofi Fired Its CEO For Being Insufficiently French? | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Drugmaker Sanofi has suddenly fired its CEO, Chris Viehbacher. The board met early this morning.


Bizarrely, Viehbacher's ousting comes in part because he was insufficiently French, it seems:


  • He was the company's first non-French boss.
  • He moved to Boston to run the company (its HQ and board were based in Paris).
  • He made the company less French and more international in its outlook.
  • And in doing so, he made enemies on the French board, who have now temporarily replaced him with a Frenchman, Chairman Serge Weinberg.


The firing is ironic because Viehbacher was brought in originally to de-Frenchify the company. When he was hired, the company wrote its press releases in a sort of strangled "Franglais," using English peppered with French spellings like "Septembre." Viehbacher is a German Canadian who got the Sanofi job after being head of US pharma at GlaxoSmithKline, where he had a reputation for playing hardball and telling it like it is.


One of the first things he did at Sanofi was oversee a massive program of layoffs. All of the foregoing was an obvious breath of fresh air at Sanofi at the time, but it now looks as if the French board has had enough.


Pharma Guy's insight:


Maybe the French board thought Viehbacher's numbers exhibited "proofiness" as in the book "The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception" by Charles Seife. The author defines "proofiness" as "the art of using bogus mathematical arguments to prove something that you know in your heart is true -- even when it is not." One tool used by masters of this art is fabricated statistics, which Seife calls Potemkin numbers in analogy to Potemkin villages.


Viehbacher exhibited his talent for "proofiness" when he was chairman of PhRMA. He made a comment using an impressive Potemkin number:


"One of the things that makes me most proud to be part of this industry is seeing that life expectancy has gone from 67 to 81 in a generation. It really shows the positive impact we've had on people and families across America."


A life expectancy of 81 years?! In my heart, I wish it were true, but my brain tells me it is not. You can find out more about that here: Chris Viehbacher, PhRMA’s Chairman, Masters the Art of "Proofiness"


Perhaps his penchant for "proofiness" when spouting sales numbers was really what got him fired.


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"Sixty Minutes" -- Sponsored by Sanofi -- Exposes the "Financial Toxicity" & "Turkish Bazaar" Pricing of Cancer Drugs

"Sixty Minutes" -- Sponsored by Sanofi -- Exposes the "Financial Toxicity" & "Turkish Bazaar" Pricing of Cancer Drugs | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Here's something you don't see every day: a Sixty Minutes report that takes slams the extraordinarily high prices charged for cancer drugs -- e.g., $100,000 per patient per year -- sponsored by a pharmaceutical company (Sanofi), which markets at least one high-priced cancer drug (Zaltrap) that has been deemed not more effective than a cheaper drug on the market (see here). The ad, however, is for Fluzone High-Dose and is focused on older folk.

Pharma Guy's insight:


I'm sure, unlike the phony older folk in the Fluzone ad, real-life older folk with cancer are not dancing in the streets knowing that their life savings are being drained by high cancer drug prices.

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