Five things for pharma marketers to know: Thursday, July 23


Over 100 oncologists wrote they believe that current cancer drug prices are bankrupting patients, according to an op-ed published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings. The physicians said that high prices are prohibitive to adherence—with patients often having to decide between receiving treatment and family necessities. “Because of costs, about 10% to 20% of patients with cancer do not take the prescribed treatment or compromise it,” the doctors wrote. “It is documented that the greater the out-of-pocket cost for oral cancer therapies, the lower the compliance.”

Mylan's independent foundation, called a stichting, has exercised a call option to acquire shares of the drugmaker, which would give it control of half the company—a move expected to hinder Teva's attempt to acquire the generic drugmaker. The foundation said in a release that it went through with the option to “restore stability to Mylan to allow it to concentrate on the management of its business and, alternatively, to give Mylan time to create shareholder value by partners with industry players.”

Valeant agreed to acquire Commonwealth Laboratories. The deal includes the exclusive rights to IBSchek, a blood test that can diagnose irritable bowel syndrome within 24 hours. The company's management team will stay in place following the deal. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Valeant acquired Salix Pharmaceuticals in February for $10.4 billion and received approval for Salix's IBS drug Xifaxan in May.

Medicare's trust fund for hospital care will run out of money in 2030, according to its recently published annual report from the board of trustees. The group urged lawmakers to help close the funding gap, adding, however, that the trend of decreasing healthcare costs have brightened the fund's long-term outlook. Reuters noted that at the current rate of tax collections, Medicare would be able to pay 86% of its costs in 2030 but that it would only be able to pay 80% of costs by 2050.

The outlook for prospective Alzheimer's disease treatments was dampened this week with disappointing data coming out of the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Washington. Trial results didn't definitively answer whether new treatments from Eli Lilly or Biogen are actually effective in treating the disease, Bloomberg Business wrote. New results from Biogen were unable to clarify what dose of its experimental drug, BIIB037, is most effective in stemming cognitive decline. Rusty Katz, a former FDA official, said that “the primary analyses of both [the drugmakers' trials] were negative.”