Drug companies face scrutiny from lawmakers looking to lower cost

wbjournal | April 16, 2019

Members of the Health Care Financing Committee on Thursday pressed pharmaceutical industry representatives to identify ways drug manufacturers can help bring more transparency to their pricing and lower costs for consumers. "You all have had a long time to be transparent," Sen. Cindy Friedman, the committee's Senate chair, said. "Pharmaceutical companies have had a long time to come to the table and say let us be as transparent as our insurance companies are and as all the other parts of health care that we patrol. You have had that opportunity, and you haven't done it. With all due respect, we want you at the table but we need you to be equal partners and be willing to understand that you have skin in the game, we have skin in the game, everybody in this room does." Friedman directed her comments to Leslie Wood of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, Patrick Plues of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, and Robert Coughlin of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, who testified together during a hearing on drug pricing, access and transparency bills. The hearing, at its outset, was so crowded that advocates and interested parties spilled out of the open doorways into the hall. Much of the testimony focused on legislation filed by Sen. Jason Lewis and Rep. Christine Barber that takes various steps in hopes of managing the rising costs of prescription drugs, which Lewis said was the most urgent health policy issue facing lawmakers. He said prescription spending in MassHealth has doubled over the past five years, growing at twice the rate of other MassHealth spending.

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Spotlight

Lung cancer rates are dropping, but it remains second-most-common cancer in both men and women (excluding skin cancer). About 14 percent of all new cancers are lung cancers, and most of those are NSCLC. But today, the outlook for patients is improving, in large part because immunotherapy is transforming the way cancers are treated.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS

MediPharm Labs Enters into $6.2M Purchase Agreement for the Sale of Australian Facility

MediPharm Labs Corp. | July 12, 2022

MediPharm Labs Corp. a pharmaceutical company specialized in precision-based cannabinoids, has entered into a Share Purchase Agreement with OneLife Botanicals PTY for the sale of MediPharm Labs Australia Pty Ltd a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company, for a minimum value of $6.9M AUD. The Agreement is subject to routine conditions and is anticipated to close within 90 days. The Agreement includes the assets of MPLA, specialized licensing, operational knowledge, and Australian and New Zealand customers currently served from that facility. All international contracts outside of Australia and New Zealand will remain with MediPharm Labs and be serviced from our Barrie GMP facility. In July 2021, MediPharm Labs was the first purpose-built cannabis facility to receive a pharmaceutical Drug Establishment License. Awarded by Health Canada, this license is recognized in over 50 countries as part of the Pharmaceutical Inspection Co-operation Scheme. At this time, the Company has completed a review of its international manufacturing platform and identified significant potential savings in moving all domestic and international manufacturing to the Canadian facility. After an extensive sale process, the Agreement with OneLife Botanicals was identified as a strategic fit for both parties. OneLife Botanicals is an emerging leader in Australia region for cannabis-based wellness and medical products, with plans to launch OTC CBD products across Australia. Purchasing the MPLA facility expedites OneLife Botanicals' timing to commercialization. The Company and OneLife Botanicals will also enter into a transition services agreement to allow for the two companies to smoothly transition products and services produced in the facility, and to work together on future commercial opportunities. David Pidduck, CEO of MediPharm Labs commented, "This sale represents a major milestone for MediPharm Labs as it continues to focus on rightsizing the business to achieve profitability. As we look to maintain our strong cash balance, this transaction paired with corporate restructuring completed in June 2022 should allow us to reduce our quarterly burn rate as we improve sales. I want to personally thank our Australian team. This group of professionals are trailblazers in the Australian and international medical cannabis market, achieving major milestones such as multiple customer product launches and our first deliveries to Germany. OneLife Botanicals is gaining one of the most capable medical cannabis manufacturing teams in Australia." "This purchase aligns and expedites the strategic aim of our organization to produce high quality medicinal cannabis products by integrating manufacturing into the end-to-end supply chain. The integration of a fully operational facility brings forward our objectives to take our products and brand to the market. OneLife Botanicals CEO Andrew Grant Our company undertook extensive research in considering this important acquisition and is highly confident about the capabilities and capacity of the operation to manufacture products in accordance with all compliance and quality standards. The integration of this business with our existing cultivation facility facilitates savings in capital investment, access to operational efficiencies and establishes us as a significant supplier in the Australian medicinal cannabis industry. We intend to build on the existing customer base and develop additional product distribution opportunities to become a formidable participant in the market." About MediPharm Labs Founded in 2015, MediPharm Labs specializes in the development and manufacture of purified, pharmaceutical-quality cannabis concentrates, active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) and advanced derivative products utilizing a Good Manufacturing Practices certified facility with ISO standard-built clean rooms. MediPharm Labs has invested in an expert, research driven team, state-of-the-art technology, downstream purification methodologies and purpose-built facilities with five primary extraction lines for delivery of pure, trusted and precision-dosed cannabis products for its customers. Through its wholesale and white label platforms, MediPharm Labs formulates, develops processes, packages and distributes cannabis extracts and advanced cannabinoid-based products to domestic and international markets. In 2021, MediPharm Labs received a Pharmaceutical Drug Establishment Licence from Health Canada, becoming the only company in North America to hold a domestic Good Manufacturing Licence for the extraction of natural cannabinoids. The Company carries out its operations in compliance with all applicable laws in the countries in which it operates. About OneLife Botanicals Onelife Botanicals is a niche producer of medicinal cannabis in Melbourne, Australia. The company has a passion for developing and producing products that provide a range of health benefits and assist in treating a range of specific health conditions. The company operates an existing cultivation site with extensive Infrastructure, including fit for purpose glasshouses for growing Medicinal Cannabis in a controlled environment. The glasshouses facilitate the optimum growing environment through temperature and climate control, allowing natural sunlight to be maximized in a protected and secure environment. The Directors and stakeholders are focused on identifying and exploring market opportunities, along with embracing innovation in the production processes. The success of the business is able to be achieved with an extensive Research and Development program, aimed at staying ahead of changes in growing methods, technological solutions and product applications, along with advanced automation ensuring that we minimize operating expenditure and maximise quality control.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS

WuXi STA Opens New Large-scale Oligonucleotide and Peptide Manufacturing Facility

WuXi STA | July 07, 2022

WuXi STA, a subsidiary of WuXi AppTec, announced the opening of a new large-scale oligonucleotide and peptide manufacturing facility at its Changzhou campus. The new facility underscores WuXi STA's ongoing commitment to enhance its capacity and capability to meet the fast-growing customer needs for oligonucleotide and peptide therapeutics development and manufacturing worldwide, making more innovative therapies accessible to the patients. With the opening of the new 30,570 sq.ft. oligonucleotide plant, WuXi STA extends its leadership in oligonucleotide development and manufacturing worldwide, with four large-scale oligonucleotide production lines and more than 20 small- to mid-scale production lines that increase the overall manufacturing capacity of a single synthesis run from 1.9 mol to 6.0 mol. The new 22,260 sq.ft. peptide plant features three new production lines with reactors that can accommodate up to 1,000 L, increasing WuXi STA's overall Solid Phase Peptide Synthesis total reactor volume to 6,490 L. The new facility is an essential part of WuXi STA's comprehensive end-to-end Contract Research, Development, and Manufacturing Organization platform for new modalities. The platform supports oligonucleotides and peptides, including novel monomers and linkers, and complex conjugates, from early discovery to development and commercial production at any scale. With this enhanced manufacturing capacity and over 850 dedicated scientists, WuXi STA's new modality CRDMO platform can better enable global partners as their projects progress to late and commercial stages. In addition, WuXi STA offers injectable formulation development and manufacturing services, including Lipid NanoParticle technology as well as comprehensive analytical and Chemical, Manufacturing, and Controls dossier preparation services, which further accelerate the development of new oligonucleotide and peptide therapeutics for the market. "We are pleased to support our global partners in their efforts to develop new modality therapies for patients in need. WuXi STA is committed to enabling partners by enhancing our new modality CRDMO platform's capacity and capability to expedite the development and commercialization of more innovative therapies to benefit patients worldwide." Dr. Minzhang Chen, Co-CEO of WuXi AppTec and CEO of WuXi STA WuXi STA has a global network of multiple R&D and manufacturing sites across Asia, North America and Europe, including a new pharmaceutical manufacturing campus in Middletown, Delaware that is scheduled to open in 2024. About WuXi STA WuXi STA, a subsidiary of WuXi AppTec, is a leading pharmaceutical development and manufacturing capability and technology platform company serving the life sciences industry with operations across Asia, North America and Europe. As a premier Contract Research, Development, and Manufacturing Organization, WuXi STA offers our worldwide partners efficient, flexible, and high-quality solutions for integrated CMC solutions from preclinical to commercial uses.

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PHARMA TECH

European Medicines Agency Accepts Astellas' Marketing Authorization Application for Fezolinetant

Astellas Pharma Inc. | September 30, 2022

Astellas Pharma Inc. announced the European Medicines Agency has accepted for regulatory review the company's marketing authorization application for fezolinetant, an investigational oral, nonhormonal compound seeking approval for the treatment of moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms associated with menopause. VMS, characterized by hot flashes and/or night sweats, are common symptoms of menopause.1,2 "More than half of women 40 to 64 years of age experience hot flashes during menopause, with limited nonhormonal treatment options. The EMA's acceptance of our MAA for fezolinetant brings us one step closer to advancing a potential first-in-class nonhormonal treatment option for women in Europe who experience VMS associated with menopause, similar to the FDA acceptance of our NDA for women in the U.S." Ahsan Arozullah, M.D., M.P.H., Senior Vice President and Head of Development Therapeutic Areas, Astellas The MAA is supported by results from the BRIGHT SKY™ program, which included three Phase 3 clinical trials that collectively enrolled over 2,800 women with VMS across Europe, the U.S. and Canada. Results from the SKYLIGHT 1™ and SKYLIGHT 2™ pivotal trials characterize the efficacy and safety of fezolinetant for the treatment of moderate to severe VMS associated with menopause. Data from the SKYLIGHT 4™ safety study further characterizes the long-term safety profile of fezolinetant. Within the MAA, Astellas proposes a 45 mg daily dose, which is subject to the EMA's review. Fezolinetant is an investigational nonhormonal selective neurokinin 3 receptor antagonist. The safety and efficacy of fezolinetant are under investigation and have not been established. This acceptance will have no impact on Astellas' financial forecasts of the current fiscal year ending March 31, 2023. About the BRIGHT SKY™ Phase 3 Program The BRIGHT SKY pivotal trials, SKYLIGHT 1™ and SKYLIGHT 2™ enrolled over 1,000 women with moderate to severe VMS. The trials are double-blinded, placebo-controlled for the first 12 weeks followed by a 40-week treatment extension period. Women were enrolled at over 180 sites within the U.S., Canada and Europe. SKYLIGHT 4™ (NCT04003389) is a 52-week double-blinded, placebo-controlled study designed to investigate the long-term safety of fezolinetant. For SKYLIGHT 4, over 1,800 women with VMS were enrolled at over 180 sites within the U.S., Canada and Europe. About VMS Associated with Menopause VMS, characterized by hot flashes and/or night sweats, are common symptoms of menopause.1,2 Worldwide, more than half of women 40 to 64 years of age experience VMS with rates in Europe ranging from 56% to 97%.3,4,5 The prevalence of moderate to severe VMS in postmenopausal women in Europe has been reported at 40%.6 VMS can have a disruptive impact on women's daily activities and overall quality of life.1 About Fezolinetant Fezolinetant is an investigational oral, nonhormonal therapy in clinical development for the treatment of moderate to severe VMS associated with menopause. Fezolinetant works by blocking neurokinin B (NKB) binding on the kisspeptin/neurokinin/dynorphin (KNDy) neuron to moderate neuronal activity in the thermoregulatory center of the brain (the hypothalamus) to reduce the frequency and severity of moderate to severe VMS associated with menopause.7,8,9 The safety and efficacy of fezolinetant are under investigation and have not been established. There is no guarantee the agent will receive regulatory approval or become commercially available for the uses being investigated. About Astellas Astellas Pharma Inc. is a pharmaceutical company conducting business in more than 70 countries around the world. We are promoting the Focus Area Approach that is designed to identify opportunities for the continuous creation of new drugs to address diseases with high unmet medical needs by focusing on Biology and Modality. Furthermore, we are also looking beyond our foundational Rx focus to create Rx+® healthcare solutions that combine our expertise and knowledge with cutting-edge technology in different fields of external partners. Through these efforts, Astellas stands on the forefront of healthcare change to turn innovative science into value for patients.

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