With An Eye On The Endgame, Pfizer Scientist Helps Faltering Company Regain Its Competitive Edge
News outlets report on stories related to pharmaceutical pricing.
Pfizer’s Chessmaster: How A Top Scientist Helped Invigorate A Lumbering Drug Giant
In his office at Pfizer’s 42nd Street headquarters in Manhattan, Chief Scientific Officer Mikael Dolsten keeps a chessboard. Dolsten has played since he was a boy in Sweden, but this board has a special provenance: It was a gift from former Pfizer (PFE) CEO Jeff Kindler, after Dolsten delivered to his boss the unwelcome message, in 2009, that the turnaround of the drug giant’s research laboratories would be anything but rapid. “I told him that, look, it’s not just one investment, it is like playing chess,’’ Dolsten recalled. “You need to have a picture of the entire opening game, win the middle game, and be really good in the end game. And it’s a marathon, Jeff, I told him.” Kindler left the meeting unhappy, but a few days later he appeared in Dolsten’s office with the chess set and his own words of wisdom: “Mikael, Pfizer needs a real chess player.” (Herper, 9/4)
As Congress Considers Lowering Drug Costs, Pharma CEOs Target Key Senators With Campaign Cash
Top pharmaceutical CEOs have targeted a small group of Republican senators with roughly $200,000 in campaign donations in the past year, according to a STAT review of campaign finance disclosures. The focus on Congress comes as drug executives are holding back on donations to presidential candidates. No major industry executive has contributed to a Democratic presidential contender or President Trump’s reelection campaign, according to the review. Only one — David Ricks, the CEO of the Indiana-based drugmaker Eli Lilly — has given to a committee associated with Vice President Mike Pence, who once served as Indiana’s governor. (Facher, 9/3)
Want more information on lawmakers' ties to pharma? Explore KHN's Pharma Cash To Congress database.
Are Reasonable Restraints On Drug Price Increases Doomed By Pharma Lobbying?
In a rare but important display of congressional bipartisanship, Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) have co-sponsored the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act, which includes a meaningful solution to the crisis created by runaway drug price increases. The act would put a cap on drug price increases in Medicare Part D by requiring drug manufacturers to rebate 100% of any price increase that exceeds the rate of inflation. (Alfred Engelberg, 8/29)
Here Are The Biopharma Companies That Launched The Most Drugs Over The Past Decade
The most important question, when comparing one pharmaceutical company to another, is this: Which is doing the best job bringing new medicines to market? It’s also one of the hardest to answer. No one measure will give a clear picture of how well a pharmaceutical company is doing at research, especially since victory and defeat in the drug business can come down to random chance and dumb luck. (Herper, 9/4)
San Francisco Chronicle:
Will Gavin Newsom’s Plan Lower Prescription Drug Costs In California?
Eight months ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom released a plan to lower the state’s prescription drug costs. The central idea: By consolidating the market power of state agencies into one statewide pool, California could gain greater leverage to negotiate with drugmakers. In late August, the administration took a first step toward making the proposal a reality. (Ho, 9/1)
Pharma's Image Among Americans Has 'Fallen To A New Low'
The pharmaceutical industry is now the most poorly regarded industry in the U.S., ranking last among industries that are measured in the latest Gallup poll. Americans are more than twice as likely to rate drug makers negatively as positively — 58% versus 27%, to be exact. Just 15% held a neutral view, yielding an overall score of negative 31. Even the federal government fared better. (Silverman, 9/3)
Public's View Of Drug Companies Sinks To Record Low In Gallup Poll
The number is the lowest of any entities Gallup polled, including the federal government, at minus 27 points, the advertising industry at minus 1, the legal field at plus five, and airlines at plus 19. The public’s favorability toward the pharmaceutical industry is at its lowest point since Gallup began polling the question in 2001. Just four years ago, the industry had a net positive rating of 4 points, but that has plummeted in the years since then. (Sullivan, 9/3)
Reining In The Spending On Drugs: What Mass. Can Learn From Other States
The measures are part of a flurry of legislation states are adopting to slow runaway drug costs, which are stretching state budgets and patients’ wallets. While debate continues in Washington, without resolution, nearly three dozen states have passed drug-pricing laws in 2019 alone. (Dayal McCluskey, 8/27)
Soaring Insulin Prices In U.S. Leave Many Hurting Right Here In Hampton Roads
De’Shonae Moody was rushed to an urgent care center where medical staff told the 14-year-old she had abnormally high blood sugar. By the time she arrived at the hospital, her blood glucose levels were at 800 milligrams per deciliter. That’s nearly eight times outside what’s considered normal and bad enough she could have gone into a coma. (Rago, 8/25)
Bayer Hires Former J&J Executive For More Pharma Deals
Bayer said it hired Johnson & Johnson executive Marianne De Backer to manage acquisitions and licensing deals at its drugs unit, as the German drugmaker turns to outside sources to boost its development pipeline. De Backer will take the role of Head of Business Development & Licensing at Bayer's pharmaceuticals division, joining from rival J&J, where she lead business development activities across different therapeutic areas and regions. (9/3)
Novartis, Lonza Deepen Biosimilars Push With MS, Arthritis Drug Deals
Swiss drugmakers Novartis and Lonza separately deepened their push into so-called biosimilars, betting cheaper copies of name-brand drugs will make headway among cost-conscious insurers and governments. Novartis's Sandoz generics unit, among the biggest biosimilars makers, on Tuesday agreed to license from Poland's Polpharma Biologics a version of Biogen's decade-old Tysabri for multiple sclerosis. This is the fifth proposed biosimilar licensed by Sandoz in nine months. (Miller, 9/3)
The Wall Street Journal:
Vertex Makes Another Aggressive Purchase With Semma
Biotechnology startups usually are acquired for a combination of upfront cash and future success-based payments. That isn’t the case in Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc.’s $950 million deal to buy startup Semma Therapeutics Inc. (Gormley, 9/3)
Vertex's Next Act: A Billion-Dollar Bet On A Cure For Type 1 Diabetes
Vertex Pharmaceuticals announced Tuesday that it plans to acquire an ambitious startup for $950 million, betting the company’s early-stage science could lead to a functional cure for type 1 diabetes. The Boston company is buying Semma Therapeutics, a nearby firm turning stem cells into insulin factories. Based on the work of Harvard University stem cell scientist Douglas Melton, Semma’s approach involves turning moldable stem cells into beta cells, the insulin-producing machinery that is mistakenly attacked by the immune system in type 1 diabetes. (Garde, 9/3)