Business Briefs: Docs question Gleevec price, Sanofi pill may delay MS onset

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In a commentary published online in the journal Blood today, more than 100 doctors and researchers who specialize in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), a deadly form of blood cancer, contested that drug prices are “too high, unsustainable, may compromise access of needy patients to highly effective therapy, and are harmful to the sustainability of our national healthcare systems,” as reported by The New York Times. The doctors gave considerable criticism to Novartis' Gleevec, whose price has tripled since it entered the market in 2001, they wrote. Gleevec, Novartis' best-selling drug, generated $4.7 billion in sales in 2012. It echoes an earlier op/ed in which physicians took issue with the price of cancer drug Zaltrap, whose marketer, Genentech, ultimately lowered the price.

Sanofi's Genzyme unit posted top-line data from a clinical trial testing multiple sclerosis pill Aubagio in patients who experienced an attack of clinically isolated syndrome, which often precludes the onset of MS. In the trial, dubbed TOPIC, patients who received 14mg of Aubagio saw a 43% reduction in risk of conversion over a two-year period. For those who received a 7-mg dose, a 37% reduction in risk of conversion was observed. The trial was designed to test whether the treatment, approved last year, can “prevent or delay conversion in clinically definite multiple sclerosis."

According to the Manhattan Research study Taking the Pulse Global, 57% of physicians surveyed in China say digital is their first choice when looking for information related to a clinical decision. In Brazil 78% of physicians polled count digital as their first choice. “In light of these findings, pharma needs to reset its basic assumptions about the value proposition of the online channel in growth markets for their sales, marketing, and service investments,” stated James Avallone, director of physician research, in a press release.

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