Five things for pharma marketers to know: Thursday, May 3, 2018

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Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Trump wants to go “much further” to address drug prices.
HHS is working with Trump to create a strategy to address issues that are causing the increasing drug prices, Azar said at the World Health Care Congress. Trump is also expected to address drug prices in a speech next week. (CNBC)

Another government official is looking at drug prices. FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb suggested taking a second look at the rebates among manufacturers, PBMs, and insurers. The rebates are currently protected under the Anti-Kickback Statute, but Gottlieb might want to change that. (STAT)

Merck is pushing ahead on a new Keytruda indication after initial positive data. Merck is asking FDA to approve Keytruda for use in untreated metastatic squamous non-small cell lung cancer after an interim analysis showed a positive overall response rate. (Endpoints News) It follows positive data Merck shared at AACR for a Keytruda-chemo combo. (MM&M)

U.S. regulators have delayed an oncology biosimilar from Novartis, a win for Roche's more expensive brand. Approval of Novartis' cheaper biosimilar version of blood cancer treatment Rituxan may be pushed back to 2019. Rituxan generates about $4 billion of U.S. sales for Roche. (Reuters)

CVS Health reports better-than-expected Q1 earnings. First-quarter revenue rose 2.6% to $45.69 billion. The company is still pushing ahead with its Aetna deal, worth $69 billion, and says it is on track to close to the deal in the second half of this year. (AP News)

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