Stat: The Hospital Exec On New Generic Maker: Trying To Bring ‘Sanity’ Stat: Fact-Checking An Ad War Over Drug Prices, Celgene, And Bob Hugin Stat: SEC Charges Biotech Billionaire Philip Frost With Pump-And-Dump Fraud The Wall Street Journal: General Atlantic Takes Majority Stake In OneOncology, A Startup For Running Cancer-Doctor Practices Kaiser Health News: Unwitting Patients, Copycat Comments Play Hidden Role In Federal Rule-Making The rising cost of prescription drugs is an issue in midterm races across the country, but nowhere more so than in New Jersey, where one candidate is the recently retired CEO of an actual drug company. So we decided to take a look at the rhetoric in that race, pitting incumbent Sen. Bob Menendez against former Celgene boss Bob Hugin. In TV ads blanketing New Jersey (and Philadelphia and New York City), Menendez paints his opponent as a craven profiteer, raising prices on patients with no other options. But Hugin argues that Celgene has saved thousands of lives by giving away doses of its banner cancer drug for free to patients who can’t afford it. (Garde, 9/11) Stat: Pfizer Taps Two Neuroscience Startups For Incubator Prize Just months after Pfizer slashed hundreds of jobs in its own neuroscience R&D program, the pharmaceutical giant is making notable investments in two Boston-based neuroscience startups. The company announced Wednesday that Tevard Biosciences and QurAlis will each receive one of Pfizer’s coveted “Golden Tickets”— a valuable voucher for the fees associated with renting a spot for one scientist for one year at LabCentral, a biotech incubator in Cambridge, Mass. For companies based elsewhere, the ticket also allows a start-up to set up shop at the noted space in Kendall Square. (Sheridan, 9/12) How PBMs Can End Up Pocketing Nearly $200 For A Bottle Of Pills Costing Less Than $6 News outlets report on stories related to pharmaceutical pricing. The New York Times: A Battle Plan For A War On Rare Diseases Boston Globe: In The Go-Go Biotech World, A Cautionary Tale Stat: Amid Anger Over Drug Prices, Former Pharma CEO Bob Hugin Runs For The Senate Bloomberg: The Secret Drug Pricing System Middlemen Use To Rake In Millions Private-equity firm General Atlantic has agreed to invest $200 million in a startup that aims to manage independent cancer-treatment clinics, the latest sign investors see opportunity in the health-services sector. The investment makes General Atlantic the majority owner of OneOncology, a startup that launched this month. Its founders, three cancer-treatment practices in Tennessee and New York, are the other owners and its first customers. (Evans, 9/12) File this under “If at first you don’t succeed, …” AmerisourceBergen (ABC), which is one of the nation’s largest pharmaceutical wholesalers, has conceded that its compounding business needs to be fixed, so the company has hired manufacturing experts to review procedures at a key facility in Memphis and postponed plans to resume shipments. (Silverman, 9/7) Not everybody reads the legal notices inside the Ottumwa Courier. But in January, Iowa pharmacist Mark Frahm noticed something unusual in the paper. For years, Frahm’s South Side Drug bought pills from distributors, and dispensed prescriptions to the Wapello County jail. In turn, the pharmacy got reimbursed for the drugs by CVS Health Corp., which managed the county’s drug benefits plan. As he compared the newspaper notice with his own records, and then with the county’s, Frahm saw that for a bottle of generic antipsychotic pills, CVS had billed Wapello County $198.22. But South Side Drug was reimbursed just $5.73. So why was CVS charging almost $200 for a bottle of pills that it told the pharmacy was worth less than $6? And what was the company doing with the other $192.49? (Langreth, Ingold and Gu, 9/11) The Wall Street Journal: Big Pharma Catches Up With Biotech For the CEO of a biotech startup, there may be no bigger asset than a compelling sales pitch. Frank Reynolds had a great one. He hadn’t planned a career in biotechnology, the head of Cambridge-based InVivo Therapeutics would tell investors. His calling found him. (Saltzman, 9/8) The Wall Street Journal: Drug Distributor AmerisourceBergen Names New Finance Chief Angered by rising prices and persistent shortages of generic drugs, seven of the nation’s largest hospital systems have launched a new, not-for-profit manufacturer. The company, which was first discussed publicly earlier this year, starts with a $100 million in capital and loans, some of which will come from three philanthropic organizations, including the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. Civica Rx will contract with other companies to make more than a dozen generics and some sales will start in mid-2019. We spoke with Dan Liljenquist, a vice president at Intermountain Healthcare who initiated the project, about the possibilities and challenges. This is an edited version of our conversation. (Silverman, 9/6) Stat: AmerisourceBergen Scrambles Again To Fix A Troubled Compounding Facility Among the 30,000 attendees of the Rutherford Street Fair, sweating it out on the street between the zeppoles and deep-fried Oreos, was the pharmaceutical millionaire who wants to be their next senator. Bob Hugin, the former CEO of Celgene, spent Labor Day walking through the crowd with a phalanx of staff and volunteers, each with a sign and a T-shirt bearing his name. They chanted, cheered, and sloganeered as Hugin’s would-be constituents looked on, varyingly bemused or befuddled at the merry little militia demonstrating in their town. Hugin shook hands, posed for photos, and remembered to say “good to see you” but never “nice to meet you.” (Garde, 9/6) A proposal to sharply cut a drug discount program that many hospitals rely on drew some 1,400 comments when the Trump administration announced its plan last year. Hundreds appeared to come from patients across the country — pleas from average Americans whose treatments for diseases such as cancer depend on costly medicines. But a review of the responses found that some individuals were not aware they apparently had become part of an organized campaign to oppose what’s known as the “340B” program. (Tribble, 9/11) It was a great summer for big pharma stocks. Investors shouldn’t expect that trend to reverse this fall. As has become routine, biotechnology stocks had a strong summer. A broad index of those stocks is up about 15% this year and is near a record. This time, however, major pharmaceutical companies are joining in the rally. (Grant, 9/5) A decade ago, when their son Bertrand was still an infant, Matthew Might and his wife, Cristina, realized that there was something terribly wrong. When he cried, his eyes stayed dry; the lack of tears damaged his corneas and threatened blindness. Eventually, he suffered seizures, a movement disorder and a severe developmental delay. It took four years to discover the problem: Bertrand had inherited two mutations of the NGLY1 gene, which plays a key role in recycling cellular waste. That meant the child’s cells were choking on their own trash. (Weintraub, 9/10) This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Philip Frost, a longtime biotech billionaire, was accused Friday of taking part in a pump-and-dump stock scheme that bilked investors out of $27 million. The Securities and Exchange Commission charged Frost and nine others in connection with what it described as a scheme to buy up shares in penny-stock biotechs, illegally promote the companies online, and then sell their shares before the bottom fell out. (Garde, 9/7) Drug distributor AmerisourceBergen Corp. ABC -0.35% said its finance chief Tim Guttman will retire in November and will be succeeded by Executive Vice President James Cleary. Mr. Guttman has served as the company’s chief financial officer since May 2012, and was previously vice president and corporate controller since joining the company in 2002. He will continue to serve as an adviser further into fiscal 2019 to ensure a smooth transition, the company said. (Shumsky, 9/10)
Some of the highlights and challenges of last year are included in the City of Dawson Creek’s 2010 Annual Report that was released recently. The report is a detailed summary of the corporation’s operations in 2010, including the goals and objectives set by city council and each of the city’s departments and the performance standards by which those goals were measured, and the goals and objectives going into this year. It also includes audited financial statements for 2010.The report will be presented to council for approval at its annual meeting on July 18, but council is seeking input from residents prior to the report being approved.“We put out this annual report so people can learn more about the community they live in, and we encourage everybody to go online and read it – or if you want a hard copy, you can come down to City Hall – and take a few minutes to see how great your community really is,” said Mayor Mike Bernier.- Advertisement -He said one of the highlights for him in the report is the amount of private investment and new construction that happened last year – 276 new business licences were issued and the value of building permits totaled a record-setting $59 million.“When most of the country was still trying to get out of an economic downturn, it was one of our busiest year’s on record,” said the mayor.He said it also encouraging to see all the new houses going up and the new residents moving into them – new residential housing starts totalled 76 units in 2010.Advertisement “We’re seeing a lot of new families move in, and it’s really great to get out and meet them and start to hear their issues and concerns and get them involved in the community,” said Bernier.Of course, a prolonged drought caused the City to implement Stage 4 water restrictions – the highest level possible – last August. The mayor said while the city can`t control the weather, the water shortage did emphasize the need for a new water reservoir to increase the city`s stored capacity, and for the council to implement changes to the city`s water and sewer rate structure.Those changes were approved late last year and implemented at the beginning of this year, and they have caused quite a bit of controversy, as many residents and business owners are irate over substantial increases to their water bills. City council has maintained the new rate structure is necessary to ensure the physical and financial sustainability of the city`s water and sewer systems, and Bernier said he is not worried about the political consequences of that decision heading into a civil election later this year.“I don’t make my decisions based on if it’s going to be popular in the community and get me re-elected – it’s is this going to be the right thing for the citizens of Dawson Creek and to make sure the city runs properly. We worked for three years to get all of the information and come up with a plan to have our water fund sustainable so we can continue running the water system.”Advertisement Preliminary work begun in 2010 on the new Calvin Kruk Centre for the Arts, being constructed inside in the old post office building downtown. The project hit a snag last October after bids for construction came in substantially over the approved budget, forcing council to seek voter consent to borrow up to $4 million to cover any shortfalls once the project was re-tendered.Bernier said it was clear from the town hall meetings held and the counter-petition process that the majority of the community supported the project and wanted to see it move forward.“The arts community is a big part of Dawson Creek, and obviously they were 100 per cent behind this. If you look at any community, they need to have an arts centre, it’s kind of an anchor and all part of our well-being of life.”Council also pursued another ambitious project last year, finalizing a deal with Shell Canada in September that would see the company fund the majority of the construction cost for a facility to treat the citys effluent water in exchange for a large proportion of that treated product over 10 years to use in its natural gas operations. Councils goal was to provide local oil and gas companies with an alternative to using potable water in their operations.That project was also met with controversy, as some residents questioned whether it was the best deal the city could have got to build the facility, some business owners expressed concerns about there not being enough product available to them once Shell took its portion, and even local pilots were concerned about the resulting reduction to their floatplane base at the airport.Advertisement Bernier said council remains firmly behind the agreement.“It just makes sense when you’re trying to save water in your community and trying to reduce the amount of water industry is using to do something like this. Somebody else is paying for it, it’s going to save our water, it’s keeping the industry in town – there’s just so many positives with it that it made sense from council’s perspective that we had to pursue this.”For those interested in providing feedback on the annual report, written comments received before July 12 will be included in the agenda for the July 18 annual meeting, though comments will still be received at the meeting prior to the final approval of council. For enquiries about the report, contact Brenda Ginter, director of corporate administration, by fax at 250-782-3202, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail at Box 150, Dawson Creek, B.C., V1g 4G4.The full annual report has been attached here for your convenience.