Five things for pharma marketers to know: Thursday, March 12

FDA
FDA

The Securities and Exchange Commission said Vertex and Gilead Sciences shareholders can vote on publishing drug pricing dynamics. The Wall Street Journal reported that the decision stems from a UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust proposal that asked the companies to share information about pricing disparities between the US and Europe, drug development costs and company reports about the possible risks associated with their medication pricing, among other items. “As a result of some pricing strategies, there may be real and practical consequences with payers and policy implications in the form of potential oversight or rejection,” the UAW Trust told the Journal. The request echoes other pricing transparency initiatives, including a California proposal to publish R&D costs.

Genetics company 23andMe launched a research and development unit. The new effort includes recruiting former Genentech research chief Dr. Richard Scheller, Pharmaceutical Processing reported. The unit will mine the firm's genetic database to help discover new therapies.

Public Citizen's healthcare policy and drug safety arm is urging the FDA to rethink a proposal that would allow drugmakers to give doctors studies from peer-reviewed medical journals that indicate “a drug's risk is less than stated on the label,” reported Reuters. The nonprofit said in its letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell that the ability to circulate this lower-risk information would “allow pharmaceutical companies to inform healthcare providers that the FDA-approved labeling overstates a medication's risks.” The group also noted in a related statement that the recommendation would give sales reps freedom to distribute articles that contain data the FDA has not reviewed or approved.

The American Medical Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched a new diabetes-prevention initiative. The new effort, called “Prevent Diabetes STAT,” includes a healthcare provider tool kit and an online screening tool for patients to help them assess their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The organizations said in a statement Thursday that the national rollout was supported by two years of collaboration. STAT stands for “screen, test, act–today.”

ICYMI: Colorado lawmakers sent a biosimilar-swapping bill to its governor for a signature. The Denver Business Journal reported Monday that the bill would allow pharmacists to swap a biosimilar for a biologic if the FDA has indicated the two are interchangeable. The pharmacist will need to notify the patient that a switch has been made. The legislation would not have an immediate impact on the market: Novartis's Zarxio, a Neupogen biosimilar, was declared a biosimilar but not interchangeable.