Business briefs: Roche, WellPoint, Bayer, Takeda, Allergan

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Roche and AstraZeneca have agreed to share research notes to help accelerate drug development, the two said in a joint statement Wednesday. Chemical structure information will remain off-limits, but the two companies will funnel certain research to MedChemica, which will match up submitted data that could provide insights about product metabolism or safety that both companies can benefit from.

WellPoint is implementing another take on controlling healthcare costs that involves giving employers the ability to set a maximum amount for covered services, reports the Wall Street Journal. The paper says the now-pilot program will go nationwide starting in January. WSJ notes that the strategy, known as referenced-based pricing, is similar to one offered by Cigna. The plans work by providing insured employees with a menu of providers and pricing, and they need to pick up the difference if they choose an option that goes beyond what employers want to pay. The cost-conscious idea is along the same lines as a Consumer Driven Healthcare Plan, in that the goal is to make the insured feel the financial burden of their healthcare choices. CDHPs work through deductibles—hit the deductible, then the co-insurance and other cost models go into effect. This model puts a hard line on costs throughout the insurance relationship. CDHPs have come under scrutiny of late, over questions about how cost-shifting affects patient behavior. Recent research has found that a higher consumer burden has been linked with lower Rx fills and health screenings.

Bayer and Seattle Genetics are partnering up on cancer research. The companies announced a joint venture on Monday to collaborate on a new anti-body drug conjugate, a deal that includes a $20-million payment from Bayer for worldwide rights to use SG's auristatin-based tech “with antibodies for several oncology targets.” Seattle Genetics stands to net an additional $500 million in milestone payments. FierceBiotech notes that the deal builds on Bayer's rich oncology portfolio, which includes Nexvar, expected to bring in $900 million in sales this year, and Xofigo, which was just approved.

Over a month after folding Millennium fully into Takeda and former CEO Deborah Dunshire's exit, the Japanese drug maker has announced its new leadership lineup. The new titles take effect July 1 and the changes include renaming divisions. Product planning and administration, for example, is now strategic production, meaning Koichi Kamiyama, former director of strategic planning, product & planning, is now VP, strategic production.

FDA has given the go-ahead for generic versions of Allergan's eye treatment Restasis—no clinical trials required—reports MarketWatch, which notes that analysts expect that the regulator's Friday move will put a swift dent in branded drug sales if they come to market by the second half of 2015.

Men with little need of prostate cancer interventions are getting high-tech treatments they do not need and do not benefit from, report researchers who published their findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association Wednesday. The study found that advanced treatments, which can include costly measures, such as intensity-modulated radiotherapy and robotic prostatectomy, are increasingly being used on men whose chances of dying from prostate cancer are slim. Researchers attribute part of the blame to advertising and fee-for-service incentives.

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