Medicares new CAR-T coverage rules could boost adoption of slow-growing meds

FiercePharma | August 08, 2019

The national Medicare coverage rule for CAR-T cell treatments is finally here. By changing some requirements in the previous draft version, the federal government lifts some restrictions and burdens on healthcare providers and could in turn boost adoption. In a national coverage decision, Medicare will pay for CAR-T therapies, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said Wednesday. For Gilead Sciences and Novartis, which market FDA-approved CAR-T treatments Yescarta and Kymriah, respectively, the policy could help improve the drugs lackluster sales now that doctors will have the peace of mind that they can get reimbursement for these costly therapies. “Today’s decision makes it very clear that ‘Yes, this is covered.’ We’re paying that not only for CAR-T, but all the related services. The administration of the drug. The collection of the cells. The manipulation of the cells and then putting it back into the patient. And then any of their outpatient or inpatient care as well,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said during a call with reporters. The update could be “a key pivot point” for uptake in Medicare patients, Gilead’s new CEO Daniel O’Day said during a conference call last week ahead of the CMS announcement. “We know that the use of Yescarta in Medicare patients also has an influence in centers on how they treat their non-Medicare patients,” he added. “Lots to continue to innovate here, not just on the science, but also on the reimbursement and access programs.”

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Novartis researchers use automation to rapidly identify starting points for new drugs.

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Novartis researchers use automation to rapidly identify starting points for new drugs.

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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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PHARMA TECH

Nucleai Announces a Partnership with Sirona Dx for AI-Driven Discovery of Novel Spatial Biomarkers in Solid Tumors

Nucleai and Sirona Dx | July 14, 2022

Nucleai, a leader in AI-powered spatial biology transforming precision medicine by unlocking the power of pathology data, and Sirona Dx, a leading provider of multiomic single-cell analytical services, today announced a collaboration to advance the discovery of novel spatial biomarkers in solid tumors. The partnership combines Nucleai’s powerful AI spatial analytics platform with Sirona Dx’s leading multiplex assay development expertise to identify novel spatial signatures in high-plex assays that predict response to therapy and inform treatment decisions. Through this strategic collaboration, Sirona Dx will provide Nucleai and its customers with a CRO partner that will enable the deployment of AI-based diagnostic algorithms to support biopharma clinical trials. Nucleai’s robust computational AI-powered spatial biology algorithm supports various image modalities and cancer indications, offering a highly customizable, deployable solution across the drug development ecosystem. These capabilities earned Nucleai the position of one of the top 10 spatial biology companies in 2022. “Multiplex imaging technologies have improved rapidly over the years; however, identifying actionable insights from all the data collected remains immensely challenging. This powerful synergy between Sirona Dx and Nucleai is very exciting as it will allow us to identify actionable spatial signatures that can predict response to immunotherapy.” Avi Veidman, Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer of Nucleai Sirona Dx is recognized as the original pioneers of spatial biology, having launched the first spatial-omics CRO service to biopharma in 2018. Today, their technology-agnostic, spatial biology suite includes the leading multiplexed imaging platforms and combines deep technical expertise required to develop high-performance multiplexed assays as large as 50 markers. Sophisticated multiplexed tissue imaging capabilities contributed to their selection as a Top 10 CRO of 2021 by Medhealth Outlook. “We are delighted to announce a partnership with Nucleai,” said Andrew Brown, Ph.D. Chief Commercial Officer at Sirona Dx. “Nucleai’s AI-driven analytical capabilities are exceptional. Our combined expertise in multiplexed tissue assay development, data generation and state-of-the-art analysis will unlock new spatial insights and accelerate the spatial biology revolution in precision medicine.” About Nucleai Nucleai is an AI-powered spatial biology company with a mission to transform drug development and clinical treatment decisions by unlocking the power of pathology data. Nucleai provides pharmaceutical companies, contract research organizations, and diagnostics laboratories with a state-of-the-art AI platform to improve clinical trials and clinical decision-making. About Sirona Dx Sirona Dx is a technical, CLIA accredited CRO, founded in 2016 to accelerate the pace of immunotherapy and targeted therapy development. With a leading-edge menu of specialized high complexity, single-cell proteomics and genomics services, Sirona Dx supports exploratory biomarker programs and advanced precision medicine initiatives to deliver safer and more effective treatment solutions.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS

Astorg to Acquire Global Medical Communications and Market Access Platform OPEN Health From Amulet Capital Partners

Astorg and Amulet Capital Partners | June 01, 2022

Astorg and Amulet Capital Partners announce that they have signed a binding agreement whereby Astorg will acquire OPEN Health, a leading global provider of scientific communications and market access services to the pharmaceutical industry. Established in 2011 and headquartered in London, UK, OPEN Health is a key partner to its customers in helping them develop strategies for evidence generation and data communication by leveraging their extensive scientific knowledge and relentless focus on quality. Together, this approach consistently delivers best-in-class scientific communications, health economics and outcomes research (HEOR) and market access services to an ever-increasing audience. OPEN Health has more than 1,000 employees in 15 locations and six countries, across North America, Europe and Asia. OPEN Health serves over 170 life sciences customers, including 48 of the top 50 pharmaceutical companies. OPEN Health’s existing management team, led by CEO Rob Barker, will continue to lead the organization, building on a strong track-record of organic growth and strategic acquisitions. "We are excited to build on the momentum across our business and to continue executing with our new partners at Astorg on a shared long-term vision to bring deep scientific solutions that support our clients in driving positive health outcomes. We are grateful for the strong partnership of the Amulet team over the last three and a half years and for all that we have accomplished in expanding our industry-leading capabilities across disciplines. We continue to be very well positioned to drive innovation and growth, and we look forward to embarking on this next chapter for OPEN Health." Rob Barker, CEO, OPEN Health Building on OPEN Health’s leading service offerings, Astorg will invest in the development of the business across its main existing offerings, and beyond, to continue delivering best-in-class scientific content to OPEN Health’s customer base and help them harness the full value of their most important assets. "OPEN Health is a very impressive company. We have been following the development of the medical affairs space for a long time as the function evolved from a supportive to a central role and identified OPEN Health as a global leader in the making. We have been impressed with its outstanding reputation and the trust it benefits from its customer base,” said Judith Charpentier, Partner and Head of Healthcare, Astorg. “We look forward to supporting Rob and the OPEN Health management team in continuing to build a global leading scientific focused medical affairs platform, expanding the platform through both organic initiatives and additional strategic acquisitions,” said Olivier Lieven, Director, Astorg. Ramsey Frank, President and Managing Partner of Amulet, said, “OPEN Health was built around Amulet’s investment thesis in medical affairs: the current generation of drugs is fundamentally different from prior generations, and these therapies need to be brought to market with the support of high science communications and data analytics. We brought OPEN Health together very intentionally via three acquisitions to create a purpose-built suite of services to meet pharma’s evolving needs.” Amulet Partner Nick Amigone continued, “We could not be more grateful to Rob Barker and his team for the outstanding job they have done in building a true industry leader.” The terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals. Houlihan Lokey served as financial advisor to OPEN Health and Rothschild & Co advised Astorg on the transaction. About OPEN Health OPEN Health brings together deep scientific knowledge, global understanding, and broad specialist expertise to support our clients in improving health outcomes and patient wellbeing. We are united as one flexible organization, harnessing the power of the collective to solve complex challenges. About Astorg Astorg is a European private equity firm with over €17 billion of assets under management. Astorg works with entrepreneurs and management teams to acquire market leading global companies headquartered in Europe or the US, providing them with the strategic guidance, governance and capital they need to achieve their growth plans. Enjoying a distinct entrepreneurial culture, a long-term shareholder perspective and a lean decision-making body, Astorg has valuable industry expertise in healthcare, software, technology, business services and technology-based industrial companies. Astorg has offices in London, Paris, New York, Frankfurt, Milan and Luxembourg. About Amulet Capital Partners, LP Amulet Capital Partners, LP is a middle-market private equity investment firm based in Greenwich, CT, focused exclusively on the healthcare sector. Amulet seeks to achieve long-term capital appreciation through privately negotiated investments in companies. Amulet Capital Partners focuses on those segments it believes have the most attractive long-term fundamentals with a target investment size generally between $25 million to $150 million.

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