KHN Morning Briefing

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The Problem With Novartis’ Heart-Failure Drug? Doctors Aren’t Prescribing It

The drug was hailed as enormously successful in testing, with cardiologists and researchers calling it a home run. So why aren't doctors using it?

The Wall Street Journal: Novartis Heart-Failure Pill Hits Hurdles With Doctors
In July, Novartis AG won regulatory approval for a new heart-failure pill that it called “one of the most remarkable drugs in cardiovascular medicine in the last several decades.” Since then, it has faced a problem: getting doctors to prescribe it. The drug, called Entresto, had $21 million in sales in the six months following its launch, a fraction of the $126 million expected by industry analysts. It also missed the company’s undisclosed internal forecasts, said David Epstein, head of pharmaceuticals at Novartis. (Roland, 3/16)

In other pharmaceutical news —

Bloomberg: The Trouble With Female Libido Pill Is A Symptom of Valeant Woes
Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc.’s struggles to ramp up sales of its new female libido pill offer a window into the drugmaker’s woes. The mail-order pharmacy that could have helped distribute the drug is now out of the picture following a scandal that forced Valeant to sever the relationship in October. Insurers are denying or limiting coverage for the daily pill, called Addyi, and large pharmaceuticals benefit managers are blocking it. The result: Many prescriptions written by doctors aren’t getting filled. (Koons, 3/17)

The Wall Street Journal: GlaxoSmithKline Says Andrew Witty To Retire As CEO
Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline PLC on Thursday said Andrew Witty would retire as chief executive in March 2017 after roughly 10 years as CEO of the company. Glaxo said it would begin a formal search for a successor, and consider both internal and external candidates for the role. (Kent and Walker, 3/17)

Reuters: Vectura To Buy SkyePharma For 620M As UK Biotech Consolidates
Respiratory drug specialist Vectura has agreed to buy rival SkyePharma (SKP.L) for 441 million pounds ($621 million), in a notable piece of consolidation among Britain's universe of small biotech companies. The tie-up will create a lung disease group with expertise across different inhaler technologies and a combined market value of more than 1 billion pounds, which should attract a wider range of institutional investors. (Hirschler, 3/16)

Reuters: McKesson Cuts 1,600 Jobs To Trim Costs
U.S. drug distributor McKesson Corp (MCK.N) said on Wednesday it cut 1,600 jobs, or about 4 percent of its U.S. workforce, to slash costs after the company lost some key customers. McKesson said in January it would review its cost structure and decided that "reductions to our workforce would be necessary to align our cost structure with our business needs," the company said in an e-mailed statement. (3/16)

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