Five things for pharma marketers to know: Tuesday, June 26, 2018

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The FDA has approved the first prescription drug derived from marijuana. The agency has given the green light to GW Pharmaceuticals' Epidiolex, a treatment made from cannabidiol for rare forms of epilepsy. The Drug Enforcement Administration must reclassify cannabidiol from a Schedule 1 drug before the company can market it. (Wall Street Journal)

Calico, Alphabet's unit dedicated to researching aging, has raised $1 billion, with Alphabet and AbbVie each contributing $500 million. The division is conducting multiple pre-clinical research programs that study diseases associated with aging, including cancer. (STAT)

The percentage of employers that only offer high-deductible health plans has skyrocketed in the past decade, but some companies, including CVS and J.P. Morgan, are reconsidering their use. “Why did we design a health plan that has the ability to deliver a $1,000 surprise to employees?” Shawn Leavitt, senior human resources executive at Comcast, recently said at a conference. “That's kind of stupid.” (Bloomberg)

GE said it plans to spin off its profitable healthcare business in the next year to 18 months. The company also plans to divest its stake in oil-services company Baker Hughes as it focuses on its power, aviation, and renewable-energy businesses. (CNBC)

The FDA is fast-tracking more drug approvals and rejecting fewer medications, despite serious or little-known side effects in some cases. Meanwhile, pharma companies are funding three-quarters of the FDA's budget for scientific reviews. “Instead of a regulator and a regulated industry, we now have a partnership,” said Dr. Michael Carome, former Health and Human Services Department official. (ProPublica)

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