With the MM+M 40 Under 40 event taking place this Thursday, Marc Iskowitz speaks with honoree Jazmin Correa as she recounts her journey from typhoon forecaster in the Peace Corps to CX director at Merck. 

Lecia Bushak recaps last week’s showdown between Sen. Bernie Sanders, (I-VT), and Big Pharma at a Senate hearing. 

Plus, Jack O’Brien delves into the health ads that ran during Super Bowl LVIII for our Trends segment, along with Mark Cuban’s comments about Cost Plus Drugs and the cancer resistance of Chernobyl’s mutant wolves. Music by Sixième Son.

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Note: The MM+M Podcast uses speech-recognition software to generate transcripts, which may contain errors. Please use the transcript as a tool but check the corresponding audio before quoting the podcast.

Hey, it’s Marc…

Well, we’re recording this week’s podcast as a thick snow blankets the mid-Atlantic area. 

So with MM+M’s big event coming up this Thursday – our 5th annual “40 Under 40” awards program in NYC – instead of starting with the usual chitchat, I thought I’d ease your minds with a little weather forecast.

While it’s cold and gray, we may catch a break. That blizzard’s gonna blow right by us. All of this moisture coming up out of the south by midday is gonna push on to the east of us.

Here in NYC you can expect drier weather – it’s gonna get up to 38 thursday, 20s overnight and it’s expected to be dry. In fact, skies will give way to sunshine by tomorrow.

OK, back to our regularly scheduled program.

The 40 Under 40 showcases one of the industry’s biggest strengths: its abundance of accomplished young talent. 

And this year’s program is no exception. This week’s guest is Jazmin Correa, director of customer experience at Merck.

Besides spending quite a bit of time on the agency side, Jazmin served in the Peace Corps in the Philippines and earned her master’s in behavioral science from the London School of Economics before jumping to pharma.

All of this before she turned 40!

She shares the kinds of behavioral science nudges marketers are incorporating – and some of the challenges to its greater use.

This week on the podcast: a mini “state of the state” on the application of behavioral science in pharma marketing.

And Lecia’s here with a health policy update.  

Hey Marc, today I’ll recap last week’s showdown between Bernie Sanders and Big Pharma at a Senate hearing, where lawmakers questioned industry execs on why drug prices are so high.

This week, we’re talking about the health and wellness ads that ran during Super Bowl LVIII, Mark Cuban’s healthcare discussion on a recent podcast episode and Chernobyl’s mutant wolves showing resistance to cancer.

Hello,

Jasmine and welcome to the eminent podcast.

Thank you for having me.

Absolutely, so your director customer experience at Merck and just for the benefit of our audience aside from many other interesting things about Jasmine. She recently earned her Masters and Behavioral Science from London School of Economics. So I thought that doing kind of a mini State of the State as far as the application of Behavioral Science to form a marketing can make for a very interesting interview and here we are but first things first Jasmine congrats on your induction.

It’s a mmms 40 under 40 class of 2024.

Thanks,

very impressive and you’re part of a very impressive group and that event celebrating. The inductees is coming up February 15th in New York city. So this week and so let’s just get into it here. First of all, Jasmine. Would you mind talking about your experience a little bit which includes quite a bit of time on the agency side followed by a very unusual career shift before coming to Pharma?

Yeah. Absolutely. So I started my career in New York City working at several different advertising and communication firm. I started through the ipg training program and it was really cool experience where I got to move to different ipg on public group agencies and really see so many different sides of the industry and I stayed in the industry for for several years working my way.

Through different agencies. I was at RTA. I was a boss a profaro several different agencies and working across the board on different clients. So that was a lot of subtle dressings or shampoos and some some former companies actually as well during during that time. And so, you know, it was exciting work you get to see a lot of different parts of the industry. You also get to work on a lot of different types of clients. And so that was that was really fun to do and I sort of got to a point after several years where I was sort of looking to do something a little bit different. I wanted to see what else was out there. And I also wanted to serve the community and serve the world in different ways.

And that is how I got into the Peace Corps and there was an opportunity in the Peace Corps to work alongside IBM’s corporate service Corps.

to help out the Philippine weather bureau in coming up with communication strategies for typhoon mornings and for sort of disaster risk reduction climate change these sorts of things and they were looking for someone who had experience in Communications and the industry and understanding digital strategies and how we can leverage that information to reach people and

And so that’s where my experience seemingly you wouldn’t think so right coming from the advertising world. It’s sort of a bit of a disconnect, but actually that’s exactly what they needed to be someone who I knew how to reach people and so that was the opportunity there at that time.

I mean, yeah that’s fascinating and in a way not as surprising as some might think given that you see the skills you picked up from working in the agency world.

Had Direct application because your stationed in the Philippines you’re developing these digital tools to help them kind of, you know, take weather data and better prepare for disasters. And that was what a three-year program in association with IBM.

Yeah, this was a this was a short condensed version. So this was a one-year program. It was through the response program. So it’s a little bit more condensed.

But it was still required being embedded in the community and practicing a lot of the skills that you do sort of in corporate world anyway, which is a lot of collaboration a lot of reaching out to people working together workshopping different ideas and approaches.

Mm-hmm. It reminds me a little bit about a few years ago the association or relationship between certain agencies in the medical area and the effort to eradicate polio, you know where the ngos were really tapping into the agencies to try to stimulate public demand for the the shot the inoculation and and their advice on how to eradicate it and going to the end of the Earth. Literally, you know, the last vestiges of where this virus is, but so it’s it’s we’ve seen a little bit before but that’s really fascinating and then after the Peace Corps, and by the way, this is all the more impressive given you hadn’t even turned 40 yet. But when did you find time to get your Masters?

Yeah. Well so after it came back from the Peace Corps, I knew I wanted to work in public good and I had some experience and farm out so that transition into working at work, which is where I currently am now.

So in this role I’m able to sort of take that Global expertise but Global Experience bring that in with that Communications background.

And work on different efforts and campaigns that’s in particular for vaccines. And so that is sort of how I transitioned and as part of that transition. I I always had

this excitement for behavior science. It was something that I was actually always sort of at the back of my mind and I I realized now that I was working in in the vaccine space. Actually there was a lot of opportunity and so I was looking at different programs.

And I came upon the London School of Economics program. And so I

I’ve applied for that for that program and and just as it happens.

A few months later. There was a global pandemic. So I was learning and applying at the same time.

So you’re working more kind of precipitated the return to school, but you as you say Behavioral Science was always in the back of your mind.

Yeah, that’s right. And I think working in advertising Communications use and in digital strategy you you’re already practicing some of the principles of behavior science. You just don’t know that you’re doing that at the time and some of the things are some of the concepts and behavior science are intuitive and some of them there’s more rigor behind them and more nuanced behind them. And so I was curious about

Expanding upon that sort of initial layer of my understanding of behavior science.

That’s a great sum up. I think that’s kind of why some of some of our coverage of this field.

Has kind of played out the way it has because you have some of these principles are as you say intuitive.

They’re just kind of second nature. You kind of do it or agent marketers are doing it. Not really necessarily realizing they’re doing it when they say stimulating demand for something or trying to understand a psychology of someone who’s and whether they’re ready to change or not and others have more scientific rigor behind them and it’s kind of more obvious. But you know you chose this interesting entry point into Pharma you work in the CX areas customer experience. How does this provide an opportunity to apply those principles?

Yeah and customer experience. What we’re trying to do is to always make sure that customers Insight in the customer experience and perceptions and their their lived experience is at the core of how we ideate and plan experiences for those people. So if you want to understand someone you have to understand their motivation, you have to understand what drives them. You have to really understand the biases that they might come with and of course.

As humans we come with lots of biases, right? And so what customer experience does is that we try to look at?

The biases that people might have as humans and as also as humans who may need a vaccine or human who may need a treatment or humans who are suffering from a chronic condition. So what we’re trying to do is get a complete whole human understanding and behavior science is a great lens that allows us to do that.

Mmm, and like you said a lot of people come with their preconceived biases and we’ll get to get to that a little bit later but you know giving your background and your current role. I like to ask for the last decade or so. We’ve at mmm been writing about principles of Behavioral Science being applied in Pharma marketing to try to lead people to make meaningful changes, whether it’s an adherence or modifying the host of modifiable risk factors that are responsible for a great deal of illnesses. Such strategies like product prodding people along the the stages of change motivational interviewing mobile technologies that are designed to close the loop and reveal what’s going on with patience in between doctors appointments or finding innovative ways to get people to their appointments or to clinical trials. So I want to ask you is behavioral change still as I heard many years ago the hardest nuts to crack in healthcare.

I I think it is. I think I think it will always be the toughest not to crack and that’s because you know humans are irrational and you humans are difficult to change. And so I think that that will always be the hardest change that the hardest thing to change is human behavior. So I still see it as a challenge but I would add to that. I think that the mindset change is also

Kind of up there with with regular Behavior change and I think how how we change mindsets and how we change behaviors our interlocked together. So I would I would say yes Behavior change is the hardest not to crack but along with that we have to think about mindset change, too.

What is oftentimes mentioned as a precursor to the other you can’t get somebody to change? Is that ready to change? Right we’ve seen that

right,

you know non-smoking campaigns and so forth. A lot of them make the mistake of trying to fast forward people to the action stage, you know before kind of priming their their mindset like you say.

So let’s let’s shift gears and talk about progress. You know, we’ve written about many marketing campaigns over the years that have used strategies grounded in Behavioral Science, like gamification using augmented and virtual reality to raise empathy amongst Physicians, you know for certain conditions online interventions tailored to individual patients. What do you think Pharma has learned from from all this experience? And where are the opportunities to improve?

Yeah.

I mean

one of the things that we’ve learned is that not all nudges are created equal and that and that means that

While we can use a lot of the basic principles in behavior science.

The context in which we apply them are different depending on therapeutic areas and defense and depending on patient type for example, and I think that’s one of the biggest learnings I think early earlier on.

We were all excited just to you know, use a loss of loss of version messaging or having certain defaults and certain places, but that actually doesn’t always work, you know, a vaccine patient is different from a chronic care patient. And so I think that that’s one of the things that we’ve learned which I think is actually a really great learning you know, which is that context matters even in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry.

And then I think the other area that that we’ve that there are some more advances is in creating your own data and leveraging your own data. I think when a lot of organizations start with behavior science, they’re looking at the literature and they’re leveraging the literature to help inform what they’re doing, but what actually helps optimize the different interventions is actually looking at your data over time. So there is an increase in experimentation.

That is being done to understand what what interventions are working. What affordances in in games and apps are working to drive that behavior change and that sort of that’s something that I’ve seen more of more of that experimentation versus sort of taking.

You know, the principal as is but rather Gathering that data and that’s super exciting because I think that’s where we can continue to learn

by taking, you know, that data and saying what word is that correlate with improvements and behavior change. Oh this person use this app or as this tendency interesting, okay.

You know, you mentioned earlier, you know that people have their implicit biases. You know, the one book I’ve kind of skimmed on this is the one the undoing project by Daniel cahanman and Amos tursky which identified many of these heuristic mechanisms the Mind uses but which lead people to make predictably wrong judgments. I’m sure I’m not sure this was on your lse reading list.

Yeah, but

even Physicians fall prey to some of these same mistakes in their decisions those two condiments rescue did not however apply behavioral economics to Pharma in order to how to improve Industries if patient-facing interventions. So when they ask you are things like behavior-based Choice framing being used in Pharma to sort of help people to make the medically sound Choice which people don’t always make and it’s sometimes people say it’s because of that choice architecture

yeah, so I think that this is one of the areas that

As an industry. I think we have to be very very careful about.

Because this is People’s Health and people’s lives, of course. And so I think as we’re thinking about Choice architecture the most important thing is always to do what is you know position. What is the best health outcomes for for the patient?

and I

thinking about what the default Choice might be and I think that a lot of times that is something that

is done in partnership with different associations, right? And so I think that when it comes to

Toy soccer texture. It’s about having you know, the right voices in the room to kind of see through. What what how what is the best choice and then how we can then position that

Sure. Yeah, from what I hear there’s a lot of opportunities to to use this this idea that

you know, what’s a play is is not a personal choice, but it kind of a failure of the decision-making apparatus, you know everything from

Taking drugs that have life-saving potential where you would say, why is why is compliance so bad in the cancer area, you know, like

right

obviously people know what the consequences there are where we’re getting a colonoscopy or something, you know and oftentimes Behavioral Science can help there. So interesting. Okay. So let’s kind of just wrap things up here. I love to get your your last word. You know, where do we go from here? Where is where are the Frontiers in terms of applying Behavioral Science principles to farm a marketing. What are you most excited about?

Yeah, I most excited about the potential about the data that we’re getting we’re starting to better understand people’s behaviors through through data through sort of their digital breadcrumbs. And I think that opens up a door for opportunity to better understand people’s biases and where they’re coming from what might be Hang-Ups that they have that they’re not articulating but that they come with so I think I’m excited about that. I’m a little bit nervous about that because that is you know, it enters into and you know a question about privacy, but I’m excited to see where this can go and I’m excited about thinking about Ai and how we start to leverage AI in in behavior science and where that could take us in the future.

Do you see it primarily, you know say using Jenna AI to analyze that large data set that you talk about digital exhaust coming from people’s use of apps and wearables and things and kind of trying to distill different things about them that they’re perhaps not articulating.

Ai and and quite honestly, I think that that could be happening soon. So I I think that there’s a lot of potential for using Ai and data and behavior science together to help improve health outcomes. And I think that is I think that’s just so incredible to see just in the last few years how everything has changed so it’s really something to look forward to

Should probably ask you what are the challenges that are holding back the field from kind of you know going in some of these new directions. We’ve been discussing.

I do think that there is a little bit of a credibility issue.

with

behavior science with the condata. I think it is and and the our reality and the genome work being questioned and I think that maybe some people are shying away because of that. So I think that there could be a little bit of that. I do also think that some of this is being absorbed by experimentation because you’re using the principles

So I think that those could be some factors.

Hmm. So arielli’s Works being he’s a Duke psychologist, right? He’s working

closely.

Yeah, so his work and the work of his partner Gina from Chef Jessica. She was a Harvard Professor is being questioned by this sort of Watchdog group called. They’re like something it’s a kind of a funny name like

Senior colada or something?

I forgot what they’re called their combat or something like that.

Yeah,

and they’re saying because they’ve run AI through it and like machine learning and they’re like, well these results are just impossible to have on these studies that have won awards.

And so they’re kind of going through that. Yeah, that’s a little bit of like so there’s a little bit of a tarnishing and in I guess reputationally like can we trust us? But that’s why I was saying that actually it’s not about trusting the data that was existing but actually creating your own running your own behavior science experiments within the company so that you can trust your own data, which I’m seeing more of but they are really work. He’s kind of come under a lot of

Eat for that and so that’s where that stands out. My personal stance was. Actually, I think it’s probably fine. I don’t think there was any intentional Mal doing I think the some of the things that we’re being questioned. Yes. I I don’t I don’t question his Integrity or or friendship. Did you knows necessarily?

That’s good?

All right. Well with the event coming up on February 15th, our audience is certainly looking forward to continuing the conversation with you Jasmine and she will be at the event. So feel free to say hi. And once again, I want to thank you so much for joining us Jasmine this really benefiting conversation.

You appreciate it.

Absolutely. We’ll see you on the 15th.

Health policy update with Lecia Bushak.

The long-awaited showdown between Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and CEOs from three Big Pharma companies finally happened.

Last week, the CEOs of Johnson & Johnson, Merck and Bristol Myers Squibb testified in front of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee, spearheaded by Sanders.

The hearing centered on one question: Why does the U.S. pay far more for prescription drugs than other countries? 

J&J CEO Joaquin Duato, Merck CEO Robert Davis and BMS CEO Chris Boerner were all present, after Sanders threatened to subpoena Duato and Davis if they did not appear.

In his opening statement, Sanders asked the CEOs why their expensive drugs — including J&J’s Stelara, Merck’s Januvia and BMS’ Eliquis — cost thousands of dollars more than in other countries like Canada or Japan.

[BYTE]: “Here, in my view, is the answer: The U.S. government does not regulate drug companies. With very few exceptions, the drug companies regulate the United States government.”

The pharma executives largely spent their opening remarks defending their high drug prices — arguing that research and development, as well as company operations, would not be sustainable without pricing them so high.

But lawmakers pushed back on the innovation argument, pointing out that all companies present spent more on stock buybacks and dividends than they did on R&D.

BYTE: [“You spend all of your advertising time talking about the R&D spend,” Murphy said. “But I think most Americans would be pretty surprised that you are actually shelling out more money to investors and buying back stock than you are on R&D.”]

Seeking tangible commitments from the CEOs, Sanders asked Davis if would pledge to lower the price of Keytruda in the U.S. to the same price as Japan and asked Boerner if he would reduce the list price of Eliquis to the same price in Canada. Both CEOs refused to commit to the price-lowering actions.

[BYTE]: “Senator, we can’t make that commitment, primarily because the prices in these two countries have very different systems that prioritize different things,” Boerner said.

Reshma Ramachandran, an assistant professor of medicine at Yale School of Medicine, noted that there was a disconnect between the CEOs’ talking points and the reality on the ground for many patients across the country.

“It was disappointing to see from Congress,” she said. “The reality is that so many patients can’t access those drugs, so they’re not being cured at all [by innovation] — much less treated appropriately.”

I’m Lecia Bushak, Senior Reporter at MM+M.

The Kansas City Chiefs officially cemented themselves as a dynasty Sunday night, defeating the San Francisco 49ers 25-22 in an overtime thriller at Super Bowl LVIII.

As much as I’d like to spend this segment talking about Patrick Mahomes’ legacy, Kyle Shanahan’s growing reputation as a choker or Taylor Swift’s world travels to attend and support boyfriend Travis Kelce, we’re going to talk about the most important part of the big game: the ads.

Numerous healthcare and consumer wellness brands made their presence known at the Super Bowl, either through activations leading up to the big game or with commercials that ran during the CBS broadcast.

In addition to brands like Tums, Cetaphil, Dove and the nonprofit Power to the Patients, two Big Pharma names ran commercials as well. 

Pfizer ran an ad during the third quarter as part of its new Here’s to Science national ad campaign centered around its vision for the future of oncology — all set to “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen. The ad was created in collaboration with Publicis Conseil, LeTruc/Publicis NY, Pfizer and others. 

Astellas Pharma also ran an ad for the second consecutive year with a new cut of the Fewer Hot Flashes, More Not Flashes TV spot it debuted in October. The updated commercial aired after the coin toss and before the kickoff.

Outside of brands, independent presidential candidate and outspoken anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. apologized for a 30-second ad from a super PAC that aired during the game.

The political ad, which was created by the pro-Kennedy American Values 2024 super PAC, directly references the popular TV commercial used by his uncle, John F. Kennedy, during his successful presidential bid in 1960.

Shortly after airing during the big game, Bobby Shriver, a cousin of Kennedy and son of former U.S. Ambassador to France Sargent Shriver, publicly criticized the ad, taking issue with it referencing his mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, despite her lifelong support for healthcare causes like the nonprofit One Campaign and Red.

I want to bring you in here because I hosted the Super Bowl party and I have to tell you that a lot of my friends that came by were impressed with a number of the ads. They saw admittedly not Pfizer or Estella as I can’t even say that any of the other Healthcare ads really stuck out to them. There was plenty of conversation when RFK Jr. Popped up on the screen I think is none of us were expecting it. But what Sadat to you on this front? Yeah, thanks. I would imagine the the contradiction of RFK Junior, you know harkening back to Jack Kennedy’s campaign, you know, given his anti-vax views may have been lost on a great segment of viewers, but in terms of what stood out to me, I you know in terms of the it was probably the firestellus.

And kind of who won the Pharma Super Bowl. I know that was kind of the chatter in the trade media and it sounds like Pfizer got more of a pop out of its brand out of its commercial effort. Of course, it was a corporate brand spot rather than a branded brand spot. So to speak and you know, the when you’re trying to use the Super Bowl as a way to advertise something whether it’s a farmer brand or, you know disease awareness. I mean like several years ago with toenail fungus, you know, it’s kind of be an uphill climb because of the audience and and the need for you know, Fair balance and having to run all the side effects. So it’s not necessarily surprising that you know, a corporate ad would do better and you know, in terms of you know, having the tie in with Travis Kelsey already kind of being a Pfizer spokesperson, it seemed to make sense and they got they got some juice out of that spot. So I found that interesting. I also one of the other things you want to mention. I know we’re going to talk about pricing transparency.

That was really interesting what you know the group power to the patients what they did with their Super Bowl PSA featuring rapper jelly roll and in the country musician Laney Wilson calling for Health Care price transparency. I just thought that was really interesting. I know lesser wrote about it prior to the big game and but it was just a really interested a really interesting venue to tap into what remains a very popular sentiment among voters, which is the obviously the high price of drugs, you know, amidst all the other problems we have in healthcare is still still kind of brings loudest and to use that venue. I thought was a very bold for them to do that and it also, you know, I kind of wrote a piece Monday. So kind of putting a plug in there in terms of weather pharma’s lobbying group needs a reset in terms of its policy priorities because it threatens to kind of lose the narrative as you see

Groups like this that are becoming more and more strident in speaking for the for the patient and here they are they’re not necessarily calling for lower prices. They’re just calling for more Health Care price transparency. I’m sure everybody would love to be able to afford their drugs more but kind of like calling out a related adjacent argument. Just those really interesting use of their Media budget there. Yeah. I want to bring Less in here because she’s written about a number of power the patient’s campaigns to start the year and a lot of them are targeted primarily at hospitals and insurers but like you said Mark, they’re not too far off in the drug pricing argument. Let’s say what did you make of their ad and then all the other ones that we talked about here that air during the game.

I’m curious how the fiser ad went over to a lot of Americans who are watching the Super Bowl who arguably are often, you know on the political spectrum that tends to skew more anti big Pharma anti-vacs in that Arena. We know that farmers reputation went up during covid, but then I believe it’s sort of dropped back down to a level similar to what it was before covid. We know that vaccinations are drop.

Thing covid vaccinations are dropping as well. So it was interesting to see Pfizer try to kind of reiterate that message that they were very much pushing during covid which is you know, trust the science, even though that we even though that a large portion of the American population does not trust that messaging and that’s sort of one of the big issues. I think Pharma has in reaching that population, especially when it comes to things like vaccinations and at least at the party that I was at, you know, I don’t think that the fiser commercial went over too well, but the RFK one did Garner a lot of attention, so I guess it did its job and getting a lot of attention getting a lot of talk out of it. It was interesting that he chose to go down that Nostalgia route sort of trying to bank on his uncle’s Legacy even though a lot of some of his policy choices or stances don’t really match and sort of address.

Succinctly by his cousin as you as you mentioned Jack Bobby Shriver who said my cousin’s Super Bowl ad use our uncle’s faces and my mother’s she would be appalled by his deadly Health Care views respect for science vaccines and Healthcare Equity were in her DNA. So it’s interesting to see a sort of all three of these ads kind of coming from these different directions. And yeah, the the power to the patient’s PSA obviously coming from a totally different place than fides there might be sort of here and we’re going to be talking a lot about price transparency and sort of how this greater push for tries for Price transparency. I believe is gonna continue happening. So we’ll probably see a lot more ads along those lines moving forward.

And just to hop in here before we go on to our next segment. I know that Robert F Kennedy’s Jr. Did apologize for the ad running and it was he attributed to it being run by a Super Peg which he does not have any control over. I do think it’s worth noting that it’s still up on his Twitter X profile. It was pinned as of yesterday morning when we wrote our story on it and he had a fundraising Link at the bottom of it. So house sincere that apology really is as it relates to the Legacy the Kennedy political family. I leave that you The Listener to the side.

Last week, billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban appeared on The Journal podcast, where he talked about everything: the 2024 presidential election, his partial sale of ownership in the Dallas Mavericks and his business pivot to focus on Cost Plus Drugs.

About halfway through the interview, Cuban discusses Cost Plus Drugs, its origins, its disruptive success thus far and its growth potential.

[clip: 11:48 – 12:22]  

Cuban is far from the shyest person in the media, which makes his candor around the healthcare sector and the pharmacy world all that more compelling. 

Yeah. Thanks Jack. I am thought that the update that he gave was really interesting on how Cost Plus pharmacies doing. He said that they’re growing 28% a month. I take it in revenue and he said quote unquote. This is the easiest business I’ve ever had to grow because the system itself is so opaque, but at Cost Plus we work outside the typical system and so he seems to think that things are going well kind of being that, you know Maverick excuse the term there. So now the knock on Cost Plus drugs, if you could call it that is that they provide mostly generic drugs not many brand name.

Drugs are on there, but that model, you know where it’s just the the price of the product plus a small markup and the delivery fee and the transparency there. It’s catching on and I think it’s catching on because you know as he put it traditionally people couldn’t shop for healthcare and now they can go on a website whether it’s Cost Plus or good RX or some of the other services and they can certainly do that to a certain extent whether they’re on Medicare or they’re on an ACA plan or a private insurance if they want to pay cash and they can see the cost plus the price and so it’s catching on and how is it catching on? Well, we we saw CVS for one Follow The Cost Plus model. They adopted something called cost Vantage which was being phased in in the first half of this year for cash paying customers. It’s pharmacies and those customers will see pricing in that same model and

Not only that but after after CVS debuted its model another one followed in their footsteps cigna-owned PBM Express Scripts so that they will use a similar model used as Cuban and CVS is doing so we’re seeing this catch on and I think it could be perhaps as we reported on mmm preview given that PBM reform is coming down the pike or you know, some people would say could given that the number of hearings directed at pbms and the number of legislative efforts that are Brewing on the hill aimed at reforming reforming pbms and adding more transparency into what is a very opaque drug supply chain. I think that’s a natural segue for you Lasha because I know you’ve been covering obviously the hearings and the house past a bill last week or a house panel has to Bill last week targeting PBS for reform But ultimately just given how divided Congress is any of that action and changes really to come from the private sector, so I’m curious

You made of his comments in the larger context of things.

Yeah, I mean from the policy perspective there has definitely been this sort of snowballing momentum in recent years a push for transparency from lawmakers from the public from these other stakeholders. Even with the Senate help hearing last week and sort of in the last year that Bernie Sanders has headed the help committee. There’s been a lot of hearings on this issue, you know increased scrutiny on pbms as well as the Pharma industry. I also recently spoke with someone from transparency RX, which is a coalition of pbms who advocate for transparency in the industry Joe Shields managing director founder of transparency RX last week when I was covering the hearing and he was very adamant that this push for transparency will continue that it’s not a matter of if but when that transparency legislation passes, so, you know, most of the experts I’ve spoken to you in the policy space believe that

Pushes only going to grow and continue from here whether or not tangible legislation passes anytime soon is another question obviously given the gridlock in Congress and the upcoming elections will probably know more after the elections, but the sort of behind the scenes push and this increased scrutiny will definitely continue.

What’s your next story? It’s come kind of coming out of left field.

For our last story, we’re headed to Chernobyl to talk about mutant wolves.

A study published late last week found that mutant wolves roaming the deserted streets of Chernobyl, the site of the 1986 nuclear reactor explosion, have developed resistance to cancer.

Scientists have welcomed the unexpected discovery from the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone as a sign that humans may be able to use the findings in the fight against cancer.

Absolutely and it’s it’s fascinating. It’s a counterintuitive finding and as as they analyze the DNA of these wolves, you know, they’re finding as you said Jack that they’ve been exposed to obviously much higher amounts of radiation than we are in our everyday lives and their immune systems have sort of seemed to have adapted over the last few decades to it and it kind of also dovetails nicely with the trend toward.

Targeted treatment of cancer over the last couple of decades where you have I think the article that you link to Jack talks about the the bracka gene, which makes you know, women more likely to develop breast or ovarian cancer and and drugs that are targeted toward that mutation if they could isolate what that mutation is and either develop a targeted antibody for it or on the flip side, you know dip into selling gene therapy and you know use a vector to introduce a corrective in this case the mutated Gene whatever it is that’s helping these wolves resist cancer. What it what a development what a break through that could be so it’s really gets our imaginations going here.

And just before I throw it over to Lesh, I do want to note that when I was looking at some of our archives around this time last year. We were talking about the show The Last of Us and this kind of post-apocalyptic could fungi be the death of us and a year later. We’re talking about mutant wolves and Chernobyl and what that could mean for Cancer Care. So it’s this this time of year seems to really do something to the podcast but Lesh, I’m curious your thoughts on it. Yeah,

you know like the headline almost sounds like science fictiony, but it’s actually super fascinating when you read into it. It’s interesting that scientists are able to kind of view the Chernobyl Zone as a sort of a petri dish or sort of like they’re able to watch and real time how Evolution you know, kind of how life basically becomes resilient to these very extreme conditions. So really kind of points to the resiliency of life in general, but it’ll be very interesting to see what they do find out in terms of the genes as you mentioned Mark and how that plays into cancer.

And yeah, it’ll be very very interesting to watch this this research play out.

A rare Silver Lining from everything that happened in Chernobyl.

Yeah, seriously and the fact that they could turn it into as you said a petri dish for you know that could Advance science is really encouraging news.

Thanks for joining us on this week’s episode of the MM+M Podcast. Be sure to listen to next week’s episode when we’ll be joined by Dermavant Sciences CEO Todd Zavodnick.