Greece and the drug industry aren't getting along so well. After several years of stiffing drugmakers on their bills, the Greek government now accuses more than 50 pharma companies of cutting off supplies of key drugs, the Guardian reports.
The well-armed German pricing gatekeepers have dismissed two more Big Pharma drugs. Pfizer's ($PFE) lung cancer treatment Xalkori and the Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY)/AstraZeneca ($AZN) diabetes drug Komboglyze both got an initial thumbs-down from the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG).
It is little compensation for being shut out of the U.S. market with its best new product, but Novo Nordisk said it will price Tresiba at a premium in Europe, where the product is facing off against market leader Lantus.
Pharma's path to a big payoff in China is growing narrower and narrower. The government has just announced its fourth drug-price cut since 2011, with 400 meds subject to forced discounts. And on that list are several of Big Pharma's key products.
Paper-thin margins on some generic sterile injectable drugs are often cited as one of the big reasons that so many have ended up in short supply, because few companies, if any, want to make them. When a plant is closed for upgrades or a supplier decides to drop a drug because the reward is too low, then presto--the drug is in short supply and patients who rely on it are in a world of hurt.
Here's some good news for Big Pharma's image: The latest Access to Medicine Index shows that major drugmakers are doing a better job of getting their products into the hands of patients in poor countries. Since the last report two years ago, some companies have clearly stepped up their game.
GlaxoSmithKline prevailed in a tax challenge from the Canadian government. The U.K.-based drugmaker won backing from the country's highest court, in a much-watched battle over using transfer pricing to cut its tax bill.
New diabetes and obesity drugs may falter because they have cheaper alternatives, and even rare-disease drugs may see some pushback on price.
India has taken another step toward broad drug-price controls. A panel of government ministers finalized its proposal for containing drug costs and broadening access to meds, with a list of 348 "essential drugs" that would be subject to a government price squeeze.
Penny-pinching governments have put pharma's head in a vise, Bayer CEO Marijn Dekkers says. Joining a chorus of pharma executives, Dekkers warned that continuing to squeeze drug prices will crush innovation and drain the lifeblood from the R&D-based business model.