The senators asked CMS Administrator Seema Verma if she needs Congress to craft legislation to grant the agency more authority with the end goal of creating more transparency in the pricing.
Lawmakers Ask Medicaid If It Needs More Power To Fix Drug Misclassifications
In a rare move, a group of bipartisan lawmakers from the House and Senate joined forces Thursday to demand greater transparency about what the government pays for certain drugs — and to offer legislation toward that end. The ten lawmakers who penned a letter to Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said they were “deeply concerned” about her agency’s oversight of the way Medicaid pays for drugs. The top signer was Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who chairs the Senate Committee on Finance. The ranking member of that committee, Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), as well as the top lawmakers on the House Energy & Commerce Committee also signed on. (Swetlitz, 3/22)
In other pharmaceutical news —
Glaxo Surges After Withdrawing Bid For Pfizer Consumer-Health Unit
GlaxoSmithKline Plc withdrew from the bidding for Pfizer Inc.’s consumer-health unit, the second potential buyer to do so this week, in a development that leaves the U.S. drugmaker with dwindling options to dispose of the business that’s valued at as much as $20 billion. “While we will continue to review opportunities that may accelerate our strategy, they must meet our criteria for returns and not compromise our priorities for capital allocation,” Glaxo Chief Executive Officer Emma Walmsley said in a statement Friday. Shares of the U.K. drugmaker surged as much as 5.9 percent in London, their biggest intraday gain in four years. (Serafino and Kresge, 3/23)
AbbVie Lung Cancer Results Are Raising Questions About A $6 Billion Deal
Two years ago, AbbVie (ABBV) paid a hefty $5.8 billion to buy a small company with an experimental treatment for small lung cancer, which accounts for up to 15 percent of all lung cancers. The move was a big bet to expand into oncology and lessen dependence on its Humira rheumatoid arthritis medication, an $18.4 billion seller last year that will soon face biosimilar competition. …On Thursday, AbbVie released results of a mid-stage study showing the drug, called Rova-T, generated a lower-than-hoped-for 16 percent response rate in patients. But what really alarmed investors — who sent AbbVie shares down more than 13 percent in mid-day trading — is that the company is no longer seeking accelerated approval from the Food and Drug Administration. (Silverman, 3/22)
The Wall Street Journal:
Health-Care Firms Turn To Drugmaker Executives As Businesses Converge
Health-care companies are tapping executives from drugmakers as they seek out finance and other critical skills found outside their core business to help navigate a recent wave of consolidation. A flurry of mergers is transforming health care as patients increasingly get their medical services outside of hospitals, in smaller venues including drugstores. (Minaya, 3/22)
Amgen Worker In Denmark Broke The Law By Posting A Release On LinkedIn
An Amgen (AMGN) employee violated Danish law by sharing and liking a U.S. press release about a medicine on LinkedIn, but will not be sanctioned, nor is the company being held responsible for the incident, the Danish Medicines Agency has decided. The employee could have faced up to four months in jail and the drug maker might have been liable for a penalty. The press release in question was issued last August and contained positive study results about the Kyprolis cancer treatment when compared with another medicine called Velcade. And the results indicated that Kyprolis should replace Velcade as the standard of care when a patient relapses with multiple myeloma. (Silverman, 3/22)
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