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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PhRMA Accepts Price Gouging #Pharma Companies Into Its Tent - Who'd a Thought It?

PhRMA Accepts Price Gouging #Pharma Companies Into Its Tent - Who'd a Thought It? | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

At every turn, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America [PhRMA] has worked hard to convince lawmakers and the public that its members are not the equivalent of “hedge funds” that exist to set sky-high prices while failing to sufficiently invest in developing new medicines.


But earlier this month, the trade group made a curious move.


Among five companies that were just added to its roster, two of them — Jazz Pharmaceuticals and Horizon Pharmaceuticals — have also relied on excessive pricing to fuel their growth, while investing much less than other drug makers in research and development.


This is “intriguing given their pricing strategies and (the) PhRMA effort to distinguish its membership from sharp pricers,” Sanford Bernstein analyst Ronny Gal wrote to investors last week.


Intriguing is one way to describe it. Hypocritical might be another.


Consider Horizon.


In late 2013, the company bought the Vimovo pain reliever from AstraZeneca and, in January 2014, on the first day it could sell the pill, Horizon raised the list price for 60 tablets to $959, a 597 percent increase from $127, according to Truven Health Analytics. This is the same tactic for which Valeant and Turing were criticized. And Horizon has since boosted the price six more times; it’s now at $2,250.


There’s more. Gal also pointed out that Vimovo is actually a combination of two older medicines. So while the company sells the drug at expensive brand-name prices, patients could actually purchase the generic components separately at a more modest cost. The drug is Horizon’s second-biggest seller, by the way, and contributed 22 percent of overall sales last year.

Pharma Guy's insight:

Martin Shkreli may be the poster boy for sky-high drug prices, but price hikes are pervasive, and the entire pharmaceutical industry shares the blame. So this is not news to me.


Read “File This Under ‘I Told You So’: #Pharma More like Shkreli Than It Likes to Admit”; 


Also read “NYT Editors: Shkreli No Different Than Other Pharma Leaders”;

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Gilead et al Investigated by Feds for Contributions to Co-Pay Charities

Gilead et al Investigated by Feds for Contributions to Co-Pay Charities | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

Federal investigators have launched a number of investigations into how drugmakers might be setting or maintaining high prices on some of their drugs, looking into pricing on generics and relationships with so-called specialty pharmacies. Now three drugmakers have been subpoenaed for information on their relationships with drug charities.

Gilead Sciences ($GILD), Biogen ($BIIB) and Jazz Pharmaceuticals ($JAZZ) have disclosed in filings that they have been hit up by the feds for documents related to their support of nonprofits that assist patients, reports Bloomberg, which has taken a deep look into such relationships.

As the news service points out, drug companies are not allowed to give direct copay help to patients who get treatments paid for by Medicare. That would be deemed a kickback. But they can make contributions to charities that assist Medicare patients to pay for drugs. That is, so long as those donations don’t have any strings attached and charities are not favoring one company’s drugs over another.

Bloomberg reports that drugmakers donated $1.1 billion to charities in 2014, more than double the amount from just four years before. The charities are important because if their support means patients sometimes continue to take expensive drugs instead of less expensive alternatives, meaning drugmakers benefit.

The charities Bloomberg spoke to claim independence. They point out they have no sway over drug prices and that their donors have no say in their operations. But the news service also spoke to a handful of former employees from one charity that claimed patients taking Jazz’s $90,000 a year narcolepsy drug Xyrem got quick help while those taking a competing drug might get waitlisted, a charge the charity denied.

These kinds of relationships came up three years ago when The New York Times reported that the Chronic Disease Fund, the largest copay assistance charity at the time, had put new administrators in place after questions were raised about favoritism towards patients taking Questcor Pharmaceuticals’ H.P. Acthar Gel, a drug that had come under criticism for its $28,000-per-vial price.

Pharma Guy's insight:

Also read “The Real Reason Big Pharma Wants to Help Pay for Your Prescription”;

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