ICER Weekly View 06-09-17


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From the desk of Mitchell Stein

Good morning.  Lordy, there was a lot of news coming out of ASCO.  So much, in fact, that the results have taken over two sections this week; Company/Drug Specific News and Weekly View In-depth both focus on the conference.  Here’s the full run-down:

ICER in the news – ICER discussed at price forum, atopic dermatitis report released, ICER works with the National Health Council, Managed Care viewpoint includes ICER, NEJM Perspective on ADOs mentions ICER’s work, and a reminder to vote for ICER’s President in Modern Healthcare vote

Inside the Beltway – Gottlieb talks generics, Price talks prices, Collins stays at NIH, and user fee bill moves forward

Industry Trends – STAT looks at drug safety (2 articles), Pfizer price increases, docs look at lower doses, detailing but not by pharma, opinion of drug manufacturers improves, the free-rider myth, pharma meets Facebook, insulin pricing bill in Nevada, and how to price breakthrough therapies

Company/Drug Specific – Abiraterone and Loxo Oncology

Weekly View In-depth – ASCO wrap-up

Now, on to the news.


ICER In The News

ICER’s work was discussed at a forum on drug pricing that included the CEO of Harvard Pilgrim and the CEO of Eli Lilly.

AHIP: The role of payer and pharma in affordability of drugs

Payer and pharma got together Thursday to talk about the balance between innovation, the affordability of prescription drugs and how both organizations can work together. Eric Schultz, president and CEO Harvard Pilgrim Health Plan, and David Ricks, chairman, president and CEO Eli Lilly and Company, shared the stage Thursday at America’s Health Insurance Plans Institute & Expo in Austin.

ICER released the final report on atopic dermatitis.  Additionally, the video replays of the meeting’s webcast are now available.

A conversation with Eleanor Perfetto, SVP for strategic initiatives at the National Health Council (patient advocacy organization whose members include groups representing 133 million patients) includes mention of their work with ICER:  “Generally, however, the relationship with ICER is positive and progressing. I am confident we will find additional ways to work together going forward.”

A Patient Primer | Personalized Medicine | In Viovo

Personalized medicine focuses on meeting patients’ needs, having the potential to transform the delivery and financing of health care. Read more…

A Viewpoint in Managed Care discusses strategies on when and how to utilize new drugs, including ICER’s work.

New England Journal of Medicine Perspective includes mention of ICER’s work on ADOs.

Reminder, voting ends June 23:  ICER’s founder and President, Steve Pearson in on the ballot for Modern Healthcare’s 100 Most Influential People. You can read more about the award below; to vote for Steve (and others) directly, you may use this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/KRZCJQ3 (note that to vote for Steve, you need to go to the bottom of the page and click next to reach the ballot page with his name on it.)

100 Most Influential People in Healthcare | Healthcare awards and recognition programs from Modern Healthcare

The leader in healthcare business news, research & data


Pharmaceutical News

Inside the Beltway

Gottlieb wants as many generic drugs as possible to have three suppliers.

Drug Prices Become Target for FDA as Chief Expands Purview

Commissioner would prioritize additional competing generics Shares of generic drug makers, wholesales drop on Tuedsay. The head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering using the agency’s powers to bring more price competition to the market for generic drugs, targeting high-priced products by prioritizing the approval of additional competing treatments.

In appearances on Capital Hill yesterday, Price reaffirmed the Administration’s commitment to doing something about drug prices: ““It’s an absolute priority and we look forward to working with anyone who’s interested in holding down or bringing down drug prices for the American people,” Price said.”

Lower Drug Costs Still ‘Absolute Priority’ for Trump, Price Says

Trump has asked health secretary Price to make recommendations Price spoke before Senate Finance Committee Thursday Tackling the high price of prescriptions drugs in the U.S. is still “an absolute priority,” Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price told senators Thursday.

Collins will remain head of NIH.

Francis Collins will stay on as head of NIH

The White House announced Tuesday that Francis S. Collins will stay on as director of the National Institutes of Health, extending Collins’s tenure even as the administration proposes deep cuts to the government’s premier biomedical research center. Collins, a physician and geneticist, has led NIH since 2009.

User fee bill takes another step forward.

User fee Reauthorization Bill Advances in the House

Posted 07 June 2017 The House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday voted unanimously (54-0) to advance its bill to reauthorize the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) user fee programs for prescription and generic drugs, biosimilars and medical devices to the full House.

Industry Trends

STAT takes a 2-part look at drug safety and finds problems.

Hundreds died while taking an arthritis drug, but nobody alerted patients

This is the first of two stories on monitoring the safety of new drugs – read the second here. hen a new remedy for rheumatoid arthritis arrived, ads called it a “unique” breakthrough that would “transform expectations” for patients and doctors.

Failure to warn: An early warning system for drug risks falls flat

ASHINGTON – In 2007, after a number of dangerous medicines were pulled off the market, Congress ordered the Food and Drug Administration to set up an early warning system to detect other harmful drugs before more people died. The FDA responded by creating a system called the Sentinel Initiative, which mines insurance data and medical records to identify possible risks.

Drug price increases continue.

Pfizer hikes U.S. prices of 91 drugs by average 20 percent in 2017: Financial Times

Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) has hiked the price of nearly a hundred drugs by an average of 20 percent so far this year in the United States, the Financial Times reported on Friday.

Maybe less is more…  A group of doctors wants to do clinical trials to see if lower doses/shorter duration treatments can be just as effective; this would both save money and improve patients’ quality of life.

Cancer drug prices are so high that doctors will test cutting doses

A group of prominent cancer doctors is planning a novel assault on high drug costs, using clinical trials to show that many oncology medications could be taken at lower doses or for shorter periods without hurting their effectiveness. As Exhibit A, they point to their pilot study involving a widely prescribed drug for advanced prostate cancer.

Using “detailing” to promote low-cost drugs.

Opinion | Selling Doctors on Cutting Drug Costs

Costs for prescription drugs – including generics alongside brand names – have been rising faster than those for any other health care category, marked by high-profile cases such as the reported 400 percent increase for Mylan’s EpiPen and a 5,000 percent spike for Turing Pharmaceuticals’ Daraprim.

As public focus shifted away from drug prices, opinions of drug manufacturers improved.

With Spotlight on Obamacare, Public’s Opinion of Drugmakers Softens – Morning Consult

Consumer perceptions of several major pharmaceutical companies have softened in recent months amid an industry push to counter public uproar over high drug prices, Morning Consult Brand Intelligence data show.

A critical look at the idea that other countries benefit from high drug prices in the US because those high prices fund research that their prices don’t support.

Debunking The Pharmaceutical Research ‘Free Rider’ Myth: A response To Yu, Helms, And Bach

June 2, 2017 Policy researchers at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Center for Health Policy and Outcomes have published a recent, valuable Health Affairs Blog post. The post shows that major pharmaceutical companies that manufacture some of the top-selling drugs “charge much more for their drugs in the United States than they do in other Western countries.”

Pharma slowly shifting its ad budget from traditional to social media and Facebook is ready to make them feel at home.

Facebook is making a big push this summer to sell ads to drugmakers

The source said the June 6 meeting is primarily geared to marketers in the pharmaceutical industry, although other health industry leaders might also be in attendance. The person expects Facebook Health to unveil tweaks to the ad product, so pharma companies can more easily plug themselves on the platform.

As insulin pricing bull moves forward in Nevada, patient advocacy groups remain silent.  The Kaiser article looks at that issue; you can read more about the legislative history and specifics of the bill here.

Daylight On Diabetes Drugs: Nevada Bill Would Track Insulin Makers’ Profits

Patients notched a rare win over the pharmaceutical industry Monday when the Nevada Legislature revived a bill requiring insulin makers to disclose the profits they make on the life-sustaining drug. In a handful of other states, bills addressing drug prices have stalled.

As the first CAR-T therapies approach market, the looming question is how will these therapies be priced?

Novartis’s Next Challenge: Pricing Breakthrough Cancer Treatment

Novartis AG, set to beat Kite Pharma Inc. to the finish line in one of the most promising new areas of cancer research, is examining how to price a revolutionary therapy patients will need to take just once. The U.S.

Company/Drug Specific

Good news for prostate cancer patients means more financial concerns for the health care system.

Prostate Cancer Drug About To Confront Insurers With Sovaldi-Size Problem

The voltage in the cancer drug pricing war took an amplifying pitch upward when the results of the LATITUDE Study were published yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine . In 1,199 patients with high-risk metastatic prostate cancer, the relative risk of death was 38% lower in the drug group (abiraterone) than in the placebo group.

Two stories on Loxo Oncology’s work.  The first discusses their approach, and the second the implication that their (and others) developments will require broader genetic testing.

A New Cancer Drug Helped Almost Everyone Who Took It. Almost. Here’s What It Teaches Us

Of the first 50 people, 38, or 76%, had clear shrinkage of their tumors. Of those, 30, or 79%, hadn’t had their tumors start growing or had new ones appear after 12 months of treatment, and are still on the drug.

Promising new cancer drugs won’t go far unless everyone gets genetic testing

Maddie Edgar A small company called Loxo Oncology thinks it can treat every cancer patient that harbors a specific, unusual, genetic mutation. The problem: finding them. The company’s drug, which could be on the market as early as next year, treats cancers with a mutation in a gene called TRK.

Weekly View In-depth

ASCO Wrap-up

Before we get to reports of study results, an excellent review of how to examine these reports critically.

6 things to keep in mind if you read cancer-related news in the next few days

Today kicks off the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the world’s largest cancer research conference, which is taking place in Chicago and runs through Monday. In the next few days, if you read any news stories about cancer treatment, there’s a good chance those stories originated at ASCO’s meeting.

The Washington Post highlights eight trends from the conference.

8 things doctors are buzzing about at the biggest cancer meeting

CHICAGO – With 38,000 oncologists converging on the sprawling McCormick Place for the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the halls in the convention center are as crowded as Manhattan sidewalks at Christmastime. Watch out or you’ll get run over as attendees rush to the next meeting of the minds.

FiercePharma’s look at the highlights of the conference.

#ASCO17 need-to-know, all right here: Roche, BMS, Merck, Legend and more

At ASCO’s annual meeting, it’s tough to sift through all the data oncology drugmakers are piling up, so we’ve done it for you. Here are the nuggets we found. Click through to learn more from our editors who covered the meeting on the ground and from afar.

BioPharma Dive’s look at the highlights.

ASCO 2017: What you missed

Loxo Oncology opened this past weekend’s annual conference of the American Society for Clinical Oncology with compelling data showing its drug’s efficacy across an array of 17 different cancers. Patients studied all shared a genetic abnormality known as TRK fusion which, while rare, shows up in many tumor types.

A look at some of the reporting to come out of the conference.

ASCO soundbites: Weekend insights from some of pharma’s finest oncology wordsmiths

Over the last few days, we’ve delivered plenty of data and analysis from last weekend’s ASCO meeting. Today, though, we’re bringing you something different: the choicest quotes we collected from interviews over the weekend. Read on to get thoughts from pharma execs bestowed with the gift of gab.

Turns out, reporting side effects through an App can add months to your life.

How a simple tech tool can help cancer patients live longer

CHICAGO – Doctors often don’t hear about the serious side effects of chemotherapy because patients are reluctant to complain or don’t have enough time to talk about such problems during jam-packed office visits, experts say.

The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) looks at the (small) improvement from some combination therapies and reports on those questioning if it is worth the additional cost.

Study Questions Value of Costly Cancer-Drug Combinations

CHICAGO-A new study is stirring debate about whether the benefits of cancer drugs are worth their cost, particularly as drugmakers develop treatments that combine multiple pricey drugs. The study of about 4,800 women with an aggressive type of breast cancer found that adding Roche Holding AG’s drug Perjeta to the company’s older treatment Herceptin conferred a slight benefit versus Herceptin alone, after the women had undergone surgery to remove tumors.

I thought long and hard before including this one – very early days, very small sample size.  But the fact that all subjects responded tipped the scale.  Again, early days but this one worth watching.

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