Five things for pharma marketers to know: Friday, May 20, 2016

1. Roughly 40% of patients with advanced melanoma who took Merck's immuno-oncology drug Keytruda were alive three years after starting treatment. Three-year survival rates for older melanoma treatments were typically between 10% and 20%. (WSJ)

2. Some drugmakers use patient-assistance charitable organizations to keep patients from abandoning expensive drugs. An internal document from Turing Pharmaceuticals showed that the company planned to repeatedly reference patient-assistance programs in discussions about drug prices. (Bloomberg)

3. Chinese health authorities are slashing the prices of three expensive drugs to reduce healthcare costs. The National Health and Family Planning Commission said it would drastically reduce the price of GlaxoSmithKline's hepatitis-B drug, Viread; AstraZeneca's lung-cancer treatment, Iressa; and Betta Pharmaceuticals' lung-cancer drug, Icotinib. (Reuters)

4. The FDA granted a Breakthrough Therapy designation to Celator Pharmaceuticals' experimental blood-cancer drug, Vyxeos. The drug's Phase-III trial showed a statistically significant improvement in overall survival.

5. Shire launched a disease-awareness campaign for a set of rare diseases and plans to create digital paper planes. The drugmaker partnered with the International Mucopolysaccharide Network to raise awareness of mucopolysaccharide diseases, such as Hunter and Morquio syndromes. (PMLiVE)