Back in June, before the pricing debate hit full swing, pharma had already taken two new hits to its public image, adding to the evidence that the industry's rep is more Johnny Rotten than Pope Francis.
A new study shows that prices for 19 brand-name dermatology meds, including two from Valeant Pharmaceuticals, have increased almost fivefold, on average, over the past 6 years.
Many Valeant investors have fled in recent weeks as the company was hit with drug pricing controversy, subpoenas and allegations that it used its relationship with specialty pharmacy Philidor to inflate its top line. But Bill Ackman's Pershing Square Capital Management has upped its stake in the company further.
Celldex touted what it called the "consistent, impressive story" of its cancer vaccine Rintega this week as it released positive long-term survival data.
Fallout from the scandal engulfing Valeant has hit Meda, which outlicensed the North American rights to a pair of dermatology drugs to the troubled specialty pharma company in 2011. But while Meda has acknowledged that the royalties it receives from Valeant are set to fall by 50%, management has dismissed the possibility of the decline holding back its M&A strategy.
Deutsche Bank reports that the fallout from the Philidor scandal may be more far-reaching than Valeant anticipates. Two-thirds of dermatologists surveyed by analysts have already ratcheted back their use of Valeant meds, and about the same number expect their prescribing to drop in the coming months. Plus, more than a few of the surveyed docs now take a dim view of Valeant's sales reps.
Add to Valeant Pharmaceuticals' growing list of problems a manufacturing mess-up that is leading to a recall of a cholesterol fighter.
Addyi, the female libido drug developed by Sprout Pharmaceuticals, was rejected twice by the FDA and abandoned by Boehringer Ingelheim before a public lobbying campaign helped push it onto the market last month. Valeant dropped $1 billion to buy Sprout soon after the drug's FDA approval. That bet isn't working out as planned, at least so far.
The U.S. House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform, already casting an uncomfortable spotlight on pharma pricing, set up a task force this month and promised "meaningful action." Now the committee is plotting its next course of action, planning a hearing in 2016 to investigate companies' pricing policies. And activist Rep. Elijah Cummings has added Valeant's specialty pharmacy Philidor to his own investigations.
Politicians and government officials have been turning up the heat on drug prices. Now, that pressure has pharma companies pointing the finger at insurers that are putting a bigger share of drug costs on patients' backs. But insurers are pointing right back.