Five for things pharma marketers to know: Thursday, December 4


The Department of Veteran Affairs told a Senate Panel Wednesday that it will require $1.3 billion in new spending to cover Gilead's HCV cure Sovaldi, according to Stars and Stripes. The VA has already cut the cost of Sovaldi in half after negotiations with Gilead, but still requires more money to begin treatment, Michael Valentino, pharmacist and chief consultant to the VA Pharmacy Benefits Management Services told the newspaper. Stars and Stripes notes that veterans, especially those from the Vietnam War, are infected with HCV at a higher rate than the rest of the population, due in part to blood transfusions as well as intravenous drug use.

FDA discovered in May that a facility run by Indian generic maker Sun Pharmaceuticals has been deleting quality control tests for drug ingredients and products, some of which were sent to the U.S., Bloomberg reported Wednesday. FDA computer forensic experts reportedly found 5,301 deleted lab results from one of the drugmaker's facilities, according to documents obtained by Bloomberg under a Freedom of Information Act request. The news service also discovered that “similar actions on quality tests have happened at dozens of other companies' plants across India that make drug ingredients and pills for export to the U.S.”

Former Sanofi employee Diana Ponte is suing now-former CEO Chris Viehbacher and other corporate executives in a lawsuit in which she alleges that company created a kickback scheme to enhance sales of its diabetes products. CNBC points out that this lawsuit comes just two years after the drugmaker settled with the Department of Justice over “claims that it engaged in kickbacks by giving doctors free samples of an arthritis drug as a way to encourage them to buy and prescribe the medication.” Ponte claims in the filings that she told executives that company contracts with partners including Accenture and Deloitte included illegal payments. CNBC says the lawsuits asserts that an internal company investigation confirmed Ponte's conclusion and that the deals showed the lawsuit's defendants “were in violation of the company's corporate integrity agreement with HHS….and that the three men ‘unlawfully covered up' the aforesaid fraudulent activity.”

GlaxoSmithKline is slashing 900 jobs in North Carolina. The Wall Street Journal reports that the layoffs are part of the company's goal of moving more of its R&D work to its Philadelphia offices and its UK offices in Stevenage. The job cuts include sales reps as well as R&D employees, but it is not clear which projects have been killed off. GSK  told the Journal that reps promoting newer medications will most likely keep their jobs. GSK told the Journal that the final number of ex-employees may be less than expected, if some of the cuts are for unfilled positions.

The US spent $2.9 trillion on healthcare last year, a 3.6% increase from 2012, and the slowest year-over-year bump in more than 50 years, Modern Healthcare reports. The tally is from researched published in the journal Health Affairs, and MH says the Great Recession played directly into the anemic growth rate, because it forced many Americans to go without health coverage. MH says spending is expected to go up, and healthcare reform pushes more consumers into the health-insured category, though estimates for 2014's growth remain low, with perhaps a 4% increase over last year.