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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Wall Street Hacks FDA About Once Per Day

Wall Street Hacks FDA About Once Per Day | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

The FDA faced 1,036 security incidents in the 30 months preceding June 2015, a freedom of information request from Federal Times has revealed. The tally, which amounts to more than one incident a day, is thought to include attempts by hackers to gain access to details that indicate whether the stock of a biotech is likely to rise or fall in the future.

Concerns about the security of IT systems at FDA were thrust into the limelight in 2013 when the agency revealed hackers had made off with 14,000 records from the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. That event, which FDA said resulted in no loss of data or login details, is still the most high-profile security breach suffered by the regulator, but new data show it is far from the only time hackers have tried to gain access to information. From January 2013 to June 2015, FDA experienced 1,036 security incidents, Federal Times reports.

DRI International President Al Berman, a healthcare security expert, framed the attacks as part of the trend for unscrupulous stock traders to turn to cyber crime to gain an edge. "There has been a huge amount of hacking in the pharmaceutical world," Berman said. "One of the reasons this is being done is for stock manipulation. If you can hack the pharmaceutical [databases] and find out what their information on clinical testing is and get a preview of what the FDA is about to do, it's a huge, huge financial advantage."

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Wall Street Fueling Drug Price Hikes, Not Benefit to Patients as Claimed by Ariad & Other Drug Companies

Wall Street Fueling Drug Price Hikes, Not Benefit to Patients as Claimed by Ariad & Other Drug Companies | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

At a time when drug makers are under intense scrutiny for their pricing, Ariad Pharmaceuticals does not appear to have any concerns about continually raising the price of an already expensive medicine.


Since the beginning of the year, the company raised the price of its Iclusig chronic myeloid leukemia treatment four times, which has amounted to a cumulative increase of 27 percent. As a result, the drug now has a list price of $16,560 a month, or almost $199,000 a year, before any rebates or discounts. And Ariad had also raised the price twice last year.


In explaining the rising prices, an Ariad spokeswoman [said] the company assesses “pricing based on a range of factors, including efforts to make sure that pricing appropriately reflects the benefit the therapy delivers to patients and to the healthcare system. We believe that our pricing actions also consistently reflect our significant investment in R&D and our ongoing commitment to the patient population we serve through our medicines.”


Interestingly, the price hikes, which were first reported by TheStreet, began a year after a labeling change that restricted usage to a smaller patient population. In December 2012, the US Food and Drug Administration approved Iclusig for patients who did not respond to other treatments. But a subsequent health scare prompted the agency to restrict its use.


In October 2013, the FDA began investigating reports of serious and life-threatening blood clots and severe narrowing of blood vessels, and asked Ariad to suspend sales. Two months later, the agency allowed the company to resume marketing, but as TheStreet pointed out, usage was then limited to only certain patients with a genetic mutation that made them resistant to other drugs.


At that time, the list price was $10,350 for a month’s supply of 45 mg tablets, which was the recommended dose, but Ariad later took two price hikes in 2015 that brought the cost to $11,950, according to Truven Health Analytics. As we noted, the company then began raising the price still more this past January.


“This drug has a tattered history,” said Dr. Peter Bach, who heads the Center for Health Policy and Outcomes at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. “If the drug works well and has a good side effect profile, it should have a higher price. But there have been signals about problems. So both of things can’t be true, yet there’s no downward pressure on price. They just decide what they think they can get away with and serially raise the price every few months.”


These price hikes, however, are fueling Wall Street.


Analysts, not surprisingly, want to know whether the drug maker can meet revenue and profit expectations. “If Ariad is able to meet or exceed product guidance for Iclusig this would move the stock higher, given strong execution in both US and EU given prior concerns about safety and competition,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Michael Yee wrote in an investor note shortly after a July price hike.

Pharma Guy's insight:

So, let me get this straight. FDA limits the drug to fewer patients and then the company raises prices? Coincidence? I think not. It's a flat out effort to reach the revenue target ex[ected by investors. The company spokeswoman should have said "We believe that our pricing actions consistently reflect our ongoing commitment to the investors & corporate leaders we serve through our high-priced medicines.” Hardly putting patients first.

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