Five things for pharma marketers to know: Tuesday, March 10

Sovaldi
Sovaldi

Prescription spending jumped 13% in 2014, thanks to the new wave of hepatitis-C and multiple sclerosis medications. The Wall Street Journal, drawing on a report released by pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts, said spending on specialty medications rose an average of 38% last year. The Journal said Gilead Sciences' Sovaldi, which pulled in $10.28 billion worldwide in 2014, accounted for about 25% of the bump in last year's US drug spending.


The Congressional Budget Office said the Affordable Care Act will cost about $142 billion less than expected, reported MarketWatch, which recapped findings of a CBO report released Monday. The overall bill is now expected to be $1.21 trillion, instead of the $1.35 trillion it had projected from 2016 to 2025. The CBO explained it had overestimated the number of patients who would receive coverage through health exchanges or through the expanded Medicaid programs that were required by the healthcare reform law. The New York Times noted that lower private insurance costs also prompted the CBO to revise its estimates, because premium increases in 2013 were lower than in prior years.


Germany's Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care said the best way to assess a drug's value is for drugmakers to share all of their files—including clinical trial results—with regulatory agencies, as opposed to simply sharing what it has made public through channels like medical journals. The Wall Street Journal reported that Germany's agency, which makes drug-effectiveness recommendations, tested its theory by comparing information it received in comprehensive industry drug dossiers to information about the same drugs pulled from journals and public registries. The Journal said researchers found that publicly available information handicapped decision makers because “conventional, publicly available sources provide ‘insufficient information on new drugs,'” such as study methods and results.


The FDA approved pediatric-cancer medication Unituxin (dinutuximab). The United Therapeutics medication was approved for use as a first-line treatment for patients with high-risk neuroblastoma, a rare cancer. The FDA said in a statement that the orphan drug is the first approved drug for this condition.


An FDA advisory panel unanimously supported approval of Kythera Biopharmaceuticals' double-chin-reducing medication ATX-101. BioCentury reported Monday that the FDA plans to meet May 13 to reject or approve the drug. Kythera said it expects to launch the drug by the second half of this year.