Business briefs: Lilly accused of bribes in China, HHS promotes healthcare reform, Novo, Herceptin biosimilar.
China's industry probe now includes allegations that Eli Lilly doled out $4.9 million to get doctors to promote its medications, reports FiercePharma. The accusations are part of an expanding list that has ensnared companies including GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis and Sanofi, among others. Lilly said in a statement that it became aware of similar allegations in 2012 and its internal investigation found nothing. The company said it was “deeply concerned about the allegations made against Lilly China,” which were published in 21st Century Business Herald. Fierce notes that Lilly's alleged transgressions amount to around 1% of what Glaxo was accused of doling out, and that Lilly has run afoul before, pointing out the drug maker paid a $29 million settlement over allegations that its employees gave gifts, meals and bath-house visits to promote company interest.
Health and Human Services is putting $30,000 behind a competition to trigger healthcare awareness messages, reports MedPage Today which says the hope is that winning entries will explain the basics of insurance—like co-pays and co-insurance—and why it is important to enroll in a plan. “We're encouraging folks to create a song, or a graphic, or a video about the law's benefits,” HHS head Katherine Sebelius said when she announced the competition in Texas. This effort is aimed at the 18-to-30-year-old set, and is but one component of an overall information push that also includes an additional $33 million to PR firm Weber Shandwick to raise awareness, $54 million in grants for healthcare navigators to act as impartial guides to state exchanges, and other efforts. States have also launched exchange campaigns. Among those highlighted by Kaiser Health News: videos at Colorado Rockies baseball games, pop-up informational storefronts in Connecticut and print/radio/TV ads for Minnesota's exchange that feature Paul Bunyan in “precarious situations that require health coverage.”
FDA approved Novo Nordisk's kid-centric insulin pen, called NovoPen Echo. The pen has half-unit dosing and records the time and amount of the last dose. Novo said in a statement this makes it the first and only pen in the US with these two features. Drug Store News notes the pen is already available in Canada, Europe and Israel, and Novo expects to roll out the US version next year.India-based drugmaker Biocon has announced it will launch a Herceptin biosimilar this financial year, according to news service Rediff. This follows last week's Reuters report that Kolkata Patent Office had partly lifted divisional patents for Herceptin for administrative reasons. Roche told Reuters it chose not to seek patent protection because of "the strength of the particular rights and the IP (intellectual property) environment in India in general." Roche's U.S. patent on Herceptin expires in 2019 and in the EU next year.