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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Pharma's CEO's Are Beholding to Wall Street, Not Patients

Pharma's CEO's Are Beholding to Wall Street, Not Patients | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

Now I [Rich Meyer, author of World of DTC Marketing blog] get that most pharma CEO’s earn a lot of money and cozy up to Wall Street but what about the rank and file under them? Do these people tell themselves the PhRMA lie about the “value” their drugs bring to society in order to cash their paychecks with a clear conscience?


With new cancer drugs commonly priced at $100,000 a year or more hundreds of thousands of cancer patients are delaying care, cutting their pills in half or skipping drug treatment entirely, a Kaiser Health News examination shows.


One-quarter of all cancer patients chose not to fill a prescription due to cost , according to a 2013 study in The Oncologist. And about 20 percent filled only part of a prescription or took less than the prescribed amount. Given that more than 1.6 million Americans are likely to be diagnosed with cancer this year, that suggests 168,000 to 405,000 ration their own prescription use.


It would be so easy for pharma CEO’s to hold a joint press event and inform the public that “under no circumstances should anyone enter financial consequences because of our drugs” but that would of course make the Street very unhappy.

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Gilead's Investors Shed Croc Tears Despite a 69% Profit Margin for Q1 2016

Gilead's Investors Shed Croc Tears Despite a 69% Profit Margin for Q1 2016 | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

The drugmaker Gilead Sciences has seen its fortunes buoyed by its blockbuster hepatitis C drugs in the last two years. But that cash flow is slowing down — and it’s hitting the company’s bottom line.


Combined sales for the powerful drugs, sold as Sovaldi and Harvoni, were $4.3 billion in the first quarter of this year, missing the average analysts’ estimate by nearly $300 million and falling $600 million below the previous quarter, Gilead reported on Thursday. That helped drive a lower-than-expected profit margin for the company.


The company has said it expects its US sales of its hepatitis C drugs to flatten this year.


The high prices of Sovaldi and Harvoni have made the drugs flash points in the public and political uproar over drug prices. The medications are priced at $84,000 and $94,500, respectively, for a full course of treatment, though patients and their insurers generally pay far less thanks to negotiated discounts.


With revenue from the hepatitis C drugs slowing, some investors are clamoring for Gilead to strike new deals. Earlier this month the company said it would pay $400 million for a drug from Nimbus Therapeutics to treat fatty liver disease. CEO John Milligan said it’s open to doing more.


“We are actively assessing options,” he said, “and we will make moves when the right opportunities present themselves.”

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WHO re #Pharma: "Very Little Breakthrough Innovation" in Past 10-20 Years!

WHO re #Pharma: "Very Little Breakthrough Innovation" in Past 10-20 Years! | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

Pharmaceuticals is an extraordinarily profitable business.

The most profitable, in fact, looking at figures for last year.

But for how much longer is the question occupying the minds not just of big pharma executives, but of health professionals and governments the world over.

There are already signs of trouble ahead - thousands of job losses and widespread consolidation are hardly characteristics of an industry in rude health.

But this is just the beginning of a process that could fundamentally change the pharmaceutical sector forever.

'Little breakthrough'

For a start, big pharmaceutical companies are no longer providing the service they once did.

"The system has served us well in terms of developing good new medicines, but in the past 10-20 years there has been very little breakthrough in innovation," says Dr Kees de Joncheere at the World Health Organisation.

Of the 20 or 30 new drugs brought to the market each year, "many scientists say typically three are genuinely new, with the rest offering only marginal benefits," he says.

This dearth of genuinely new potential blockbuster drugs is a grave problem for big pharmas, and of course society at large, particularly given the industry is falling off a patent cliff the like of which it has never seen.

Pharma Guys insight:

This, again, sounds like "Crying all the way to the bank." Read more about that here.

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@Richmeyer Calls for Resurrection of George Merck - a #Pharma CEO Who Put Patients Before Profits

@Richmeyer Calls for Resurrection of George Merck - a #Pharma CEO Who Put Patients Before Profits | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

The biggest challenge facing pharma, and all healthcare for that matter, is the drive for increased profit at the expense of patients. Unless pharma acknowledges that they need to put patients first in everything they do, they are going to pay the price in increased calls for a “single payer” system.


Following Digital Pharma in social media I was reminded that there still are a lot of very good people in the industry who understand the challenge of marketing to patients today. However, like I wrote before, there is a disconnect between developing a strategy and actually implementing it.


When I see the salaries of pharma CEO’s and health insurance executives I am often troubled and confused. How could a health insurance CEO take home tens of millions of dollars in compensation when they raise rates for customers? How can a pharma CEO take home so much money knowing that there are some patients who can’t afford their medications?


DTC marketers know what they need to do to make their marketing relevant to their audience, but they often lack the budgets to make it happen. Everything is now based on ROI instead of asking “how can we help patients?”. Offering a medication to fight chronic health problems is not enough. Patients today need help from a healthcare system that treats them as a number not a person. They are left to fend for themselves when it comes to understanding how to live with health issues that affect their lives.


A new breed of pharma CEO is needed. Someone who can tell Wall Street that what we are doing to help patients will lead to better profits and someone who doesn’t ask for a compensation package that makes them a millionaire ten times over. Most importantly, we need CEO’s that allow the rank and file to implement programs that actually embrace patients based on their needs rather than a projected ROI.

Pharma Guys insight:

When was the last time a big pharma CEO was featured on the cover of Time magazine (does that mag still exist?). Unfortunately Merck has rewritten its founder's words: "We try to remember that medicine is for the patient investor. We try never to forget that medicine is for the people investors. It is not IS for the profits. The profits follow lead, and if we have remembered that, they will never fail to appear. The better we have remembered that, the larger they have been." – George Corporate Merck. For more on that, read “Merck in the Mirror: Profits, Not People, Come First. Shame!”;

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“1bn Here We Come!” A Common Goal for Pharma CEOs

“1bn Here We Come!” A Common Goal for Pharma CEOs | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

"$1bn here we come."

That was the triumphant message sent by then-Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli, the infamous "Pharma Bro" who jacked up the price of a life-saving drug by 5,000 percent last year, when it became clear his firm could acquire the rights to the medicine. The email went to Turing's presumably pleased board of directors last May.

To anyone who's followed this story since The New York Times shined a spotlight on Turing and intensified the national debate about prescription drug pricing last fall, the Shkreli email and other documents made public by the Democrats on the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee Tuesday do little more than confirm the basic facts. Turing raised the price of Daraprim, which treats a deadly parasitic infection called toxoplasmosis that afflicts HIV/AIDS patients, because it could. The company reaped a windfall, followed by a massive backlash that forced out Shkreli without providing any relief to patients.

But this kind of drug pricing strategy isn't limited to one rogue executive or company. Though rarely quite so blatant, it's woven throughout the pharmaceutical industry.

Pharma Guys insight:

The quote comes from an email Shkreli sent to the Chairman of the Board of Directors on May 27, 2015, in response to news that Turing had made significant progress towards acquiring Daraprim. I can image many other pharma CEOs expressing the same sentiment after launch of any new potential "blockbuster" drug. After all, "blockbuster" means sales over $1bn per year in pharma jargon.


Related story: #Pharma CEOs Fill in the Drug Pricing Debate "Gaps";

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#Pharma Cries All the Way to the Bank: Deposits Profits Greater Than That of the Bank!

#Pharma Cries All the Way to the Bank:  Deposits Profits Greater Than That of the Bank! | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

Imagine an industry that generates higher profit margins than any other and is no stranger to multi-billion dollar fines for malpractice.

Throw in widespread accusations of collusion and over-charging, and banking no doubt springs to mind.

In fact, the industry described above is responsible for the development of medicines to save lives and alleviate suffering, not the generation of profit for its own sake.

Pharmaceutical companies have developed the vast majority of medicines known to humankind, but they have profited handsomely from doing so, and not always by legitimate means.

Last year, US giant Pfizer, the world's largest drug company by pharmaceutical revenue, made an eye-watering 42% profit margin. As one industry veteran understandably says: "I wouldn't be able to justify [those kinds of margins]."

Pharma Guys insight:

Reaping great profits is not the only reason the pharmaceutical industry is hated by many people. For more on that, read this Pharma Marketing News article: Bad, Devalued, Distrusted & Defensive Pharma.This is a case of pharma crying all the way to the bank!

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