News

Pfizer's Ibrance shines in latest breast cancer study

Pfizer won accelerated approval of Ibrance as a first-line breast cancer treatment in February. Now it says that data in a study of the drug as a second-line treatment was so good that it stopped that study early.

Congress spurs feds to investigate sky-high generic drug prices

Hefty increases in drug spending have lawmakers all riled up, and a new voice is joining the growing chorus of discontent. The Department of Health and Human Services is weighing in on the issue, planning to investigate the cause of soaring generic drug prices amid congressional pushback.

Novartis has fresh data to support newly acquired CLL drug Arzerra

Novartis already has some positive data for Arzerra, a chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) drug it picked up in its $16 billion buyout of GlaxoSmithKline's cancer drugs. Given the competition in the category, Novartis can use whatever boost it can get as it works to extract additional sales out of the portfolio of oncology products.

Onglyza's label should flag heart failure risks, FDA panel says

AstraZeneca escaped the worst with an FDA panel vote on Onglyza. The agency's expert advisers almost unanimously backed the drug's cardiovascular safety. But the panel also recommended that the diabetes drug's label include information about a potential risk of heart failure.

Takeda taps Lilly exec to run U.S. unit, adding a woman to its all-male exec team

Takeda has chosen a woman to run its U.S. pharma business, just weeks after new CEO Christophe Weber said he was unhappy with the gender balance in the Japanese drugmaker's management ranks. Weber recruited Eli Lilly USA exec Ramona Sequeira to replace Doug Cole, who announced his departure last November.

Record new drug sales give a mega-boost to U.S. drug spending

Given the flood of numbers on hepatitis C treatment costs, it's no surprise that U.S. drug spending took a leap last year. Given the news on specialty drug prices, it's no surprise that the biggest share of that growth came in that category of medications.

California health insurance exchange calls for copay caps on pricey meds

California's health insurance exchange staff is laying out a proposal that would cap copays for specialty drugs at a maximum of $500 per prescription, Capital Public Radio reports. And the caps would be even lower for some patients depending on their plan.

Merck's Frazier joins top-paid pharma CEOs with a $25M package

Thanks to a big stock grant, Merck & Co.'s Kenneth Frazier vaulted to the highest echelons of pharma CEO pay last year. With a pay package valued at more than $25 million, Frazier beat out Pfizer's Ian Read and Johnson & Johnson's Alex Gorsky--even if he fell far short of Regeneron chief Len Schleifer.

Actavis says it'll lose $200M in Namenda sales if appeals court nixes a 'hard switch'

Actavis is trying to encourage an appeals court to let it force patients over to a new, patent-protected version of Alzheimer's treatment Namenda. Hundreds of millions in sales rest on the decision. But so far, the judges aren't offering any clues about their answer.

Currency hurts, Olysio plummets, but J&J pharma growth carries on

Johnson & Johnson revealed that its hepatitis C drug Olysio succumbed to U.S. competition. With Gilead Sciences' two-in-one pill Harvoni and AbbVie's Viekira Pak now on the scene, the J&J drug saw sales drop by two-thirds--and it was one of J&J's biggest pharma-growth drivers last year.

Valeant CEO's 2014 pay pales in comparison to new EVP's $50M-plus

Valeant Pharmaceuticals CEO J. Michael Pearson took down more than $10 million last year, including a whopping $8 million in incentive pay. But the real surprises in the company's 2015 proxy statement are farther down the chart.

Actavis chairman joins Zoetis board under deal with activist investor Ackman

Pfizer spinoff Zoetis, the animal health company, added a second director to its board under a deal it reached earlier this year with activist investor Bill Ackman and his firm Pershing Square Capital Management.

Medicaid drug-spending hikes rile lawmakers, but there's no end in sight

Medicaid programs across the country are suffering from an overnight increase in drug spending, fueled primarily by pricey hepatitis C drugs. But treatments for that disease are far from the only meds whose rising prices are taking a bigger bite out of state budgets.

With U.S. sales suffering, GSK plots changes to quota-free pay model

GlaxoSmithKline's controversial overhaul of sales-rep compensation is due for some tweaks. After replacing its North American president earlier this year, the company has decided to revisit its so-called Patient First sales model, which pegs incentive pay to broad sales and performance goals rather than individual quotas.

Zoloft lawyers accuse Pfizer of hiding birth-defect risks

Pfizer researchers found evidence last year that pregnant women using its Zoloft antidepressant had a higher risk of giving birth to a child with heart problems and other congenital anomalies, Bloomberg reports. Now, the internal report has surfaced in a lawsuit blaming Zoloft for a young boy's heart defect, the first such case to go to trial.

Sanofi won't discount Toujeo to Lantus

Sanofi has news for all of the payers, providers and patients who thought the French drugmaker would discount its newly approved insulin Toujeo to get it established in the market. Think again.

AstraZeneca's Onglyza 'mortality' risks noted by FDA reviewers

FDA staff reviewers have raised serious concerns about the safety of AstraZeneca's Onglyza ahead of an advisory committee review Tuesday, which could result in a recommendation of a label change for Onglyza as well as other drugs in the DPP4 inhibitor class. 

Allergan drops Valeant-Ackman insider trading lawsuit

Allergan--now owned by Actavis--and its former hostile suitors, Valeant and Bill Ackman's Pershing Square, are putting the past behind them.

Vertex's Kalydeco combo could run payers $10M-plus per life, PBM figures

Sky-high drug prices have been causing their fair share of consternation among payers lately, and industry watchers have suspected for a while now that Vertex will stir the pot when its new cystic fibrosis combo--expected to win FDA approval later this year--hits the market. But just how much will payers need to shell out for the new med over time? Prime Therapeutics has some ideas.

Study says no good has come from FDA's action on gout drug colchicine

A stink was raised a few years back when the FDA asked for a safety study of colchicine, an inexpensive drug that had been prescribed for decades for gout, then granted exclusive approval to one company who stepped up. As soon as the approval was in place, the price of the drug went up from pennies per pill to $5 and patients and doctors screamed foul. Now some researchers have looked into the unintended consequences of that action and found the agency made things worse for patients with the painful condition, with no benefit.