Apr 20

The Business Cocktail

Prescription drug supply shortages fuel price hikes, new research shows

According to research published by the New England Journal of Medicine and reported by the Wall Street Journal, shortages of prescription drug supplies in the U.S. in recent years resulted in price increases for some drugs. In 2014 and 2015, a shortfall of the bladder-cancer drug BCG triggered a sharp increase in prices for mitomycin, a less effective alternative, according to research published online in the medical journal last week. Mitomycin, a generic produced by Accord Healthcare, saw its price for a single vial nearly double to $869.59 in the summer of 2014 following reports of the BCG shortage. The price for a lower dose of mitomycin jumped 146% to $165.60 during the same period. The shortage of BCG continued into 2015 due to manufacturing quality problems with Sanofi and Merck, driving the costs for mitomycin to $1,415 for the high-dose vial and $272.46 for the lower dose, the research indicated.

Fujifilm invests $116M in U.S. as it races competitors for biologics contract work

Japan’s Fujifilm is relatively new to the drug manufacturing realm and has yet to crack $1 billion in sales from its small-molecule operations. But it believes it can grow exponentially by concentrating on biologic drug production and is investing close to $130 million in plants in the U.S. and U.K. to make that happen. Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies has now completed a $93 million Texas manufacturing facility it acquired several years ago, the company announced Tuesday. But with contracts for work rolling in, Fujifilm said it will invest another $23 million to expand that operation, as well as spend about $9 million on its facilities in Billingham, U.K. All of this is with the goal of hitting about $1 billion in biologics contract work by 2023 as it races competitors to capture the burgeoning biologics CDMO business.

Cobra Biologics to pump $19M into its U.K. and Swedish production facilities

Cobra Biologics will inject $19 million into facilities located in the U.K. and Sweden to help the CDMO meet increased demand from gene and immunotherapy companies. The expansion is expected to take place over a two-year period to support the company’s R&D activities in developing faster and more cost-effective viral vector and DNA plasmid production platforms. The first phase is slotted for its plant in Keele, England, and will expand the facility’s viral vector phase 3 and commercial manufacturing capabilities. Phase two is scheduled for its plants in Matfors and Södertälje, Sweden, to double the capacity for high-quality DNA plasmid production and characterization, which is used by CAR T-cell therapy companies targeting acute lymphoblastic leukemia and chronic lymphocytic leukemia to support early clinical phase adeno-associated virus and lentivirus production. The last phase will expand Cobra’s clinical and commercial capabilities for GMP DNA production.

The world's most pricey drugs, from a $1.2M gene therapy to a $450K lymphoma med

When Biogen announced the price on its new rare disease drug Spinraza—$750,000 the first year and $375,000 after that—critics popped up immediately. Biogen and its partner Ionis saw their shares drop. Since then, despite the complaints, analysts have raised their expectations for the drug, based on conversations with doctors and payers. But the pricing questions linger, if only in the context of the public debate—and political pushback—pharma’s been facing on its price-setting and price hikes for more than a year now. In a recent accounting of the world’s most expensive drugs, compiled by Reinsurance Group of America, the ranking includes some familiar faces farther down the list—Alexion’s Soliris, for instance, in sixth place at $542,640—and some less-familiar brands as well.

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