Apr 13

The Business Cocktail

Cancer, diabetes and eczema star in 2017 top-launch list

Launch prognostications are getting more attention than ever as they come out with “Drugs to Watch” list, and the highlights of different drugs shows what might work this year. By 2021, some of the drugs in the list are expected to bring in $16 billion, shared among Big Pharma and a few top biotechs. Some of the usual suspects are Roche’s Ocrevus; Sanofi and Regeneron’s Dupixent; AstraZeneca’s durvalumab; Novo Nordisk’s semaglutide; Tesaro’s niraparib, just approved as Zejula; Novartis’ LEE011, a.k.a. ribociclib, approved last month under the Kisqali brand name; and Kite Pharma’s KTE-C19, which could be the first-ever CAR-T therapy for cancer. Dupixent, approved last month for moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis (eczema), came in second with $2.8 billion.

AbbVie’s Humira needs a discount, ICER says, warning Lilly, Sanofi to price with care

The best-selling drug in the world isn’t worth its current price—and isn’t as good at its job as two of its potential competitors. That’s the conclusion of the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review, a cost-effectiveness watchdog, which evaluated rheumatoid arthritis drugs and found AbbVie’s Humira wanting. AbbVie takes issue with the assessment, and it’s unlikely to have much impact on Humira’s hefty sales, at least for now. It might, however, affect pricing decisions on forthcoming novel meds—and the case for those novel meds with payers. It might also affect pricing on Humira biosimilars when they make their debut, and AbbVie’s competitive stance when that happens. Overall, ICER found that immune-modulating RA drugs, from TNF-alpha inhibitors onward, work better than older therapies such as methotrexate. Pricing, however, earned a lower grade under quality-adjusted life year (QALY) analysis.

Debt-laden Teva, looking for cash, weighs $2B women’s health sale

In the wake of CEO Erez Vigodman’s departure, Teva execs have been reviewing the company’s business. And when it comes to what belongs on the chopping block, they may have reached their first conclusion. The company is weighing a sale of its women’s health unit. The generics giant has brought on Morgan Stanley to help it find a buyer, and it’s looking to start the sale process early next month, the news service said. Such a transaction could drum up about $2 billion, which could take a bite out of Teva’s hefty debt load. Teva picked up the division from Merck KGaA’s Merck Serono for €265 million in 2010. But a few years ago, the company put the kibosh on R&D there to channel funds toward other projects, Globes notes.

Fresenius in buyout talks with Akorn in bid to boost sterile injectables unit

Growth in the generic sterile manufacturing industry has spawned a series of big buyouts in the last few years, and Germany’s Fresenius is looking to M&A to build its expertise with a potential deal for a U.S.-based player. Both Fresenius and Lake Forest, Illinois-based Akorn have confirmed they are in discussions, pointing out that there is no guarantee a deal will be finalized. Shares of Akorn closed up more than 18% at $29.77 on the news Friday and were up again today in premarket trading, pushing its market cap to $3.7 billion. Shares still remain far below the $56 a share at which they traded two years ago before accounting problems tied to its buyout of Hi-Tech Pharmacal and other producers gut-kicked its share price.

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