IMS OncologyPOST SUMMARY: According to IMS Health Informatics: The global market for oncology drugs, including supportive care, reached $91 billion in 2013, as measured at ex-manufacturer prices and not reflecting off-invoice discounts and rebates. Although this is up from $71 billion in 2008, it represents a compound annual growth rate of 5.4%. The modest rate reflects a lack of breakthrough therapies for very large patient populations, patent expiries, reductions in the use of supportive care medicines and stronger payer management . This rate of growth is significantly lower than seen during the 2003-2008 period when growth each year exceeded 15%, driven by a small number of breakthrough therapies. Differences in incidence rates, access to medicines and treatment protocols are substantial between countries, but cancer is still a leading area of healthcare spend. In pharmerging markets, oncology is expected to be the fourth highest spend therapy class by 2017. While the U.S. and top five European markets have declined in their share of the global market, they still dominate it with 65% of total sales. Targeted therapies have dramatically increased their share of the oncology market, now accounting for 46% of total sales, up from 11% a decade ago.

cost of HepcPOST SUMMARY: Since 2007, the cost of brand-name medicines has surged, with prices doubling for dozens of established drugs that target everything from multiple sclerosis to cancer, blood pressure and even erections, according to an analysis conducted for Bloomberg News. While the consumer price index rose just 12 percent in the period, one diabetes drug quadrupled in price and another rose by 160 percent, according to the analysis by Los-Angeles based DRX, a provider of comparison software for health plans. Source: Bloomberg.  Why are drug prices rising and what can be done about it?

UnknownPOST SUMMARY: Cancer Research UK analysis showed that in 1971-2, 50% of people diagnosed with cancer died within a year. Now 50% survive for at least a decade – up from 24% in 1971-2.  But the findings, based on the outcomes for more than 7 million patients, also showed that for some cancers, survival rates were still very low. For example, just 1% of pancreatic cancer patients and 5% of lung cancer patients can expect to survive for 10 years.  Nonetheless, the overall figures showed there had been significant progress in the way cancer was treated.  As we talk about mergers and acquisitions within the pharma industry we also need to ask how will these acquisitions effect the development of new drugs?

freerxsamplesPOST SUMMARY: To infer that free samples of prescription drugs are costly to patients is flawed because the study upon which these headlines  were all over the Web came from the journal JAMA Dermatology.  In fact prescription drug samples can help patients get the medication they need at no cost and it’s up to the patient’s insurer whether or not the physician can actually write a prescription for the product.

actos judgementPOST SUMMARY: The $9 billion judgement against Lilly & Takeda on possible links with cancer and Actos stunned both legal teams.  I don’t believe this judgement will stand but underneath all the testimony is a key lesson for the pharma industry: transparency around clinical trial data is essential and consumers are angry at any “big business” and will gladly take out their anger via huge awards.

angryinvestorA U.S. law firm is launching a class action against France’s Sanofi over what it calls misleading statements on the safety and efficacy of its multiple sclerosis drug Lemtrada.  Sanofi acquired Lemtrada when it bought U.S. biotech firm Genzyme for $20.1 billion in 2011. The drug’s prospects took center-stage in a drawn-out takeover battle and led to a deal in which Genzyme shareholders received listed contingent value rights (CVRs) linked to Lemtrada’s future success. Because the FDA is now questioning clinical studies and safety investors feel that they were misled but the FDA can always question new drug studies even when drug companies ask for comments.