Brief View of the Latest Healthcare Industry_Issue14

June - July, 2017



With Obamacare, More Breast Cancers Diagnosed at Earlier Stages

More breast cancers have been found at earlier — and potentially more treatable — stages since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The study in Cancer Epidemiology found that after Obamacare, the percentage of cancers diagnosed at the earliest stage increased by 3.2 percent for white women, 4.0 percent for blacks and 4.1 percent for Latinas. “The same woman who pre-A.C.A. would have been diagnosed at Stage 2 was diagnosed at Stage 1 after A.C.A.,” said the lead author, Abigail Silva. “The A.C.A. had the potential to improve public health, and there’s more and more evidence coming out each day to show that it is doing that.” https://nyti.ms/2ueCcvU




‘Pharma Bro’ Martin Shkreli Goes On Trial On Securities Fraud Charges

Martin Shkreli is known for a number of things. Jacking up the cost of a life-saving drug for AIDS patients by 5,000 percent. Grinning his way through a House hearing as he pleaded the Fifth. Badgering a journalist on Twitter until his account was suspended. Today, jury selection begins in federal court as 34-year-old Shkreli goes on trial for something else entirely: securities fraud charges. Prosecutors say he was swindling investors in his hedge fund well before he became “the most hated man in America.” If Shkreli is dreading his day in court, he isn’t showing it. “I’m excited,” he told the AP last week. “I can’t wait.” The boy genius-turned-”pharma bro” told The New Yorker he doesn’t expect to serve time. http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/06/26/534411641/pharma-bro-martin-shkreli-goes-on-trial-on-securitiesfraud-charges




Senate Health Care Bill Includes Deep Cuts to Medicaid

Senate Republicans, who for seven years have promised a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, took a major step on Thursday toward that goal, unveiling a bill to make deep cuts in Medicaid and end the law’s mandate that most Americans have health insurance.“We are extremely disappointed by the Senate bill released today,” the medical school association wrote. “Despite promises to the contrary, it will leave millions of people without health coverage, and others with only bare-bones plans that will be insufficient to properly address their needs.” https://nyti.ms/2tT8Ti9



U.S. Health Sector Hits Record High on Senate Bill, Biotech Rally

U.S. healthcare stocks posted sharp gains with hospitals and insurers climbing after Senate Republicans released a draft bill to replace Obamacare, while a recent surge in biotechnology shares showed no signs of slowing. Shares of hospitals and health insurers, the main focus of investors during Republican efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, were higher after the release of the proposed legislation in the Republican-controlled Senate.Hospitals, in particular, have benefited from Obamacare’s coverage expansion. HCA Healthcare Inc rose 3 percent, while Tenet Healthcare Corp surged 7 percent. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-healthcare-stocks-idUSKBN19C2V2

Novartis Drug Becomes First to Prevent Heart Attacks and Strokes by Targeting Inflammation

Novartis, the Swiss drug giant, announced that a drug that targets inflammation prevented heart attacks and strokes in a 10,000 patient trial of people with established heart disease. It could be a scientific breakthrough, and a commercial one, too. A lot will depend on full results that will be presented at a medical meeting later this year, and on price. The drug, Ilaris, costs $200,000 a year now, and a price cut could be necessary. More than 7 million patients in Europe and the U.S. could be eligible for the drug. Assuming a $15,000 price, like the PCSK9s, would yield a $60 billion market opportunity. https://www.forbes.com/sites/matthewherper/2017/06/22/novartis-drug-becomes-first-to-prevent-heart-attacks-andstrokes-by-targeting-inflammation




Hospitals Handling Growing Debt Loads—For Now

Storm clouds notwithstanding, hospital companies are borrowing as if they’ll be able to handle whatever’s ahead. Some of the dollar amounts are eye-popping. Nashville-based HCA is preparing to sell $1.5 billion of senior secured notes with an interest rate of 5.5% that will be used to retire higher-cost debt and pay for the $725 million announced acquisition of three hospitals in Houston from rival Tenet Healthcare Corp. Community Health Systems in March raised $2.2 billion through the sale of senior secured notes and another $900 million in May. The Franklin, Tenn.-based hospital giant, which is selling hospitals to try to reduce $15 billion in total debt, used much of the proceeds to retire debt maturing in 2018 by pushing its new borrowings further into the future. http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20170622/MAGAZINE/170629974/hospitals-handling-growing-debt-loadsx2014-for-now




GSK Wins $235 Million From Teva in Coreg Patent Trial

A U.S. jury has ordered Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd to pay GlaxoSmithKline Plc more than $235 million (£185 million) for infringing a patent covering its blood pressure drug Coreg, court documents showed. A federal jury in Wilmington, Delaware on Tuesday found that Teva willfully infringed the patent in connection with its sales of a generic version of the drug with a label indicating it could be used for treating chronic heart failure. GSK in a statement said that it was pleased with the trial’s outcome. Teva said it was disappointed. “We still intend to present our equitable defences to the court at a separate hearing which could eliminate the liability determination or significantly reduce the assessed damages,” Teva said in a statement. “We are also considering an appeal.” https://nyti.ms/2tuA0TG




EU court: Vaccines can be blamed for illness without scientific evidence

The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that courts may consider vaccines to be the cause of an illness, even in the absence of scientific evidence confirming a link. The EU’s highest court said that if the development of a disease is timely to the person’s receiving a vaccine, if the person was previously health with a lack of history of the disease in their family and if a significant number of disease cases are reported among people receiving a certain vaccine, this may serve as enough proof. The EU court is authorizing national courts to make such judgments about causality themselves, based on evidence they are presented with, without reliance on expert opinion, said Professor Tony Fox from the pharmaceutical medicine group at King’s College London. http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/21/health/vaccines-illness-european-court-bn/index.html




FDA Wants To Stop Pharma From ‘Gaming’ Generic Drug System

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration moved to prevent pharmaceutical companies from “gaming” the system to block or delay entry of generic rivals. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a blog post that the agency plans to hold a public meeting on July 18 to identify ways pharmaceutical companies are using FDA rules to place obstacles in the way of generic competition.The move comes as President Donald Trump and lawmakers in Congress search for ways to lower the cost of prescription drugs.The FDA does not include price considerations when deciding whether to approve a new drug, but Gottlieb said the agency can facilitate increased competition by approving lower-cost generics. That means removing some of the obstacles placed by branded companies in the way of generic manufacturers. http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/fda-wants-stop-pharma-gaming-generic-drug-system-n775151




Pamplona Capital to Take Parexel Private for $4.5 Billion

U.S. pharmaceutical research services provider Parexel International Corp said on Tuesday it would be taken private by Pamplona Capital Management LLP in a $4.5 billion deal. Pamplona will pay $88.10 per share in cash for Parexel, representing a 5 percent premium to the stock’s Monday close. Parexel’s shares were trading at $87.67 before the bell, just shy of the offer price. Pamplona had been scouring the market in the last year, seeking to acquire a contract research organization. It made an unsuccessful bid earlier this year for Pharmaceutical Product Development LLC (PPD), a U.S. clinical trials firm valued at more than $9 billion. https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2017/06/20/business/20reuters-parexel-intl-m-a-pamplona.html?mtrref=undefined




He Broke Ground in Stem-Cell Research. Now He’s Running for Congress.

Stem-cell researcher Hans Keirstead, 50, announced last week that he will try to unseat California’s Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R). Keirstead, a Democrat with a PhD in neuroscience from the University of British Columbia, was a professor at the University of California at Irvine before launching and selling several biotech companies. Keirstead emerged from academic and entrepreneurial fields. He pioneered a technique to purify stem cells — “You can’t go putting toenails into the spinal cord,” he said — and applied this method to spinal-cord injuries and diseases such as cancer and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. “I’m delighted that Dana Rohrabacher loves science. That’s fabulous. But I’m also very convinced that he doesn’t understand science. There’s a real big difference. If you love science, that’s one thing. If you don’t understand it, you can’t effect change, and you make wrong decisions,” remarked Keirstead. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2017/06/20/he-broke-ground-in-stem-cell-research-nowhes-running-for-congress/




Bristol-Myers Selling Ireland Plant to South Korean Company with Large Aspirations

Bristol-Myers Squibb, which is shifting its focus toward biologics manufacturing, will unload an API plant in Ireland to a South Korean company that has aspirations of becoming a big deal in contract manufacturing. The U.S. drugmaker said today that it will sell its plant in Swords to SK Biotek, a unit of South Korea’s third largest conglomerate, SK Holdings. SK has been a BMS ingredient supplier for a decade. SK Biotek, the first South Korean company to set up shop in Ireland, will use the BMS plant as a base for its burgeoning contract development and manufacturing business. “This transaction is an important step to achieve our goal of becoming a leading global CDMO,” SK Biotek CEO Junku Park said in a statement. http://www.fiercepharma.com/manufacturing/bristol-myers-selling-ireland-plant-to-south-korean-company-will-largeaspirations




Drug Deaths in America Are Rising Faster Than Ever

Drug overdose deaths in 2016 most likely exceeded 59,000, the largest annual jump ever recorded in the United States, according to preliminary data compiled by The New York Times. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death among Americans under 50. Although the data is preliminary, the Times’s best estimate is that deaths rose 19 percent over the 52,404 recorded in 2015. And all evidence suggests the problem has continued to worsen in 2017. Early data from 2017 suggests that drug overdose deaths will continue to rise this year. “It’s the only aspect of American health”, said Dr. Tom Frieden, the former director of the C.D.C., “that is getting significantly worse.” https://nyti.ms/2rI5lBB




Pfizer Drug Delays Lung Cancer Growth Longer than Astra’s Iressa: Study

A targeted drug being developed by Pfizer Inc. held advanced lung cancer in check longer than AstraZeneca’s Iressa in newly diagnosed patients, but with a higher rate of side effects, according to data presented on Monday. About 60 percent of patients receiving the Pfizer drug in the study had the dose lowered due to side effects. Liver enzyme abnormalities were the most common serious side effect observed in the Iressa patients. Despite the higher rate of side effects, “the activity seen in this study should allow for consideration of this effective therapy in this patient population,” Dr. Tony Mok from Chinese University of Hong Kong, who led the study, said in a statement. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-cancer-pfizer-idUSKBN18W1HD




Many COPD Patients Struggle To Pay For Each Breath

An estimated 1 in 9 Medicare beneficiaries are diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. And, in 2014, COPD was the third-leading cause of death in the country, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Inhalers like Spiriva and Advair account for billions in Medicare spending each year. Across the country, doctors who treat COPD say costs are a common problem for patients. Dr. David Mannino at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health says some patients cut pills in half or take a prescription once a day instead of twice, just to save money. Spiriva’s list price has jumped 31 percent the past five years to $368 for a 30-day supply, according to drugmaker Boehringer Ingelheim. And Breo Ellipta’s price has risen 20 percent since 2013 to $321.74 a month, according to drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline. http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/06/02/529759280/many-copd-patients-struggle-to-pay-for-each-breath

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