Pharma Company Eyes A Comeback After Its Potential Obesity Blockbuster Flopped
Also in pharmaceutical news: the debilitating cost of hepatitis C drugs, clinical trials for blood cancer treatment, investments into fighting our biggest killers and scrutiny for prescription drug ads.
After Obesity Drug Flops, Arena Pharma Plans A Comeback. Will It Work?
If you ask biotech investors today what they know about Arena Pharmaceuticals, nearly all will mention the weight-loss drug Belviq. Approved five years ago, it was touted as a potential blockbuster ― and ended up being a commercial flop. (Feuerstein, 7/6)
The Washington Post:
Sen. Bill Cassidy, A Liver Doctor, Grapples With Louisiana’s Liver Disease Crisis
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) vividly remembers his worst day as a doctor. His patient, an 18-year-old woman with hepatitis B, needed a liver transplant, and he arranged to have her airlifted to Shreveport for the procedure. “I was sitting there thinking, if we had vaccinated this girl with a $50 vaccine, we could have saved a $250,000 operation and a lifetime of $50,000-a-year medical bills,” Cassidy recalled in a recent interview. There's a happy ending to the story: The patient's liver began to recover, avoiding the need for a transplant. But Cassidy didn't know that as the helicopter took off. He was motivated to set up a vaccination program to prevent the infection. Over six years, 36,000 schoolchildren in his state were vaccinated. (Johnson, 7/5)
The Wall Street Journal:
FDA Suspends Certain Clinical Trials Of Merck’s Keytruda
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration suspended two clinical trials and a portion of a third testing Merck & Co.’s Keytruda as a treatment for blood cancer, after more patients receiving the drug died than those receiving other treatments, the company said. Merck said Wednesday the FDA determined the risks of Keytruda, when added to the other drugs the patients in the trial were taking, outweighed any potential benefit for patients with the blood cancer multiple myeloma, based on available data. The other drugs used in the studies are Celgene Corp.’s Pomalyst and Revlimid. (Loftus, 7/5)
The Wall Street Journal:
Lung, Liver And Stomach Cancers Kill A Million Chinese A Year; Big Pharma Responds
Big Pharma is investing billions of dollars to tackle deadly diseases prevalent in China, developing new drugs to combat a lineup of top killers that differ from those in the West. (Rana, 7/5)
CQ Roll Call:
Health Industry Pushes Scrutiny Of Lawsuit Advertisements
Doctors and the pharmaceutical industry want more scrutiny of advertisements for lawsuits relating to prescription drugs, and are getting backing from the powerful U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. The American Medical Association says that advertisements for lawsuits about adverse side effects of drugs can deter patients from using treatments that doctors have instructed them to take. The AMA, which is the largest doctors’ group in the United States, voted last year to require that lawsuit ads carry warnings to consult a physician before making changes to their medications. (Siddons, 7/6)