Pharma companies admit to sharing 'sensitive' info to keep prices high

FiercePharma | September 23, 2019

As U.S. officials press a massive case for alleged generic drug price fixing, authorities in the U.K. have unearthed an example of rivals working a little too closely with each other. King Pharmaceuticals and Alissa Healthcare Research, which both sold the antidepressant drug nortriptyline, admitted to exchanging "commercially sensitive information" in order to keep prices high. The U.K.'s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said in June it had found the companies exchanged info about prices, volumes and market entry plans for their drugs. Officials opened their investigation back in October 2017, and the allegations covered conduct between 2015 to 2017. Even as King and Alissa admitted to the violations, a third company, Lexon Limited, denied them. The investigation against Lexon is ongoing, and the authorities say they're preparing to levy penalties against the company. Meanwhile, a slate of generic drugmakers face U.S. allegations that they worked together to keep prices high. Dozens of states have sued leading generic firms, alleging they met in person and communicated digitally to share info about launch plans and divide up the market. The alleged price-fixing scheme encompassed some of the biggest generics makers in the business, including Teva Pharmaceutical and Mylan, prosecutors say.

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Hyfe Joins Forces with Merck to Deploy Its Artificial Intelligence-Powered Cough Detection and Counting Technology

Hyfe, Inc. | July 20, 2022

Hyfe, Inc., the global leader in AI-powered cough detection, tracking and classification, has entered into an agreement with Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, to integrate its artificial intelligence-powered (AI) cough tracker technology into Merck’s consumer disease educational efforts.. Hyfe’s AI-powered technology passively and remotely monitors the number of times a person coughs and the sound of the cough through any smart device, such as a mobile phone. This data collected over time provides the user with helpful information by revealing patterns and potential triggers like seasonal allergies that may be causing the cough that would otherwise go unnoticed or unaddressed. “The overwhelming majority of people cannot even come close to accurately estimating the number of times they cough per day. In order to help diagnose and treat patients, cough frequency and sound should be monitored and measured with the same accuracy as blood pressure, temperature, heartbeat and other biomarkers that are essential for assessing health and medical conditions.” Peter Small, M.D., chief medical officer of Hyfe, Inc Users of the app will be able to determine when and how long to track their coughing. The AI-powered technology records cough-related sounds and allows the user to compare the frequency and quality of their coughs against their own benchmark. This personalized approach provides users with more detailed information and confidential data about their individual situations to share with their health care providers. Hyfe, Inc. is the global leader in AI-powered cough detection and classification that provides insight into cough patterns and correlations that can greatly improve treatment and prevention. With more than 280 million samples, Hyfe maintains the largest cough dataset in the world enabling the building of powerful models to track, manage and diagnose respiratory illnesses. Hyfe provides platforms and data for pharmaceutical companies, medical researchers, government agencies, health care providers and patients and has partnerships with leading academic institutions including Johns Hopkins University and the University of California at San Francisco. The company was founded in 2020 and is headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware.

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Ligand Pharmaceuticals Announces Inducement Grants Under NASDAQ Listing Rule 5635(c)(4)

Ligand Pharmaceuticals | August 02, 2022

Ligand Pharmaceuticals Incorporated announced that effective August 1, 2022, Ligand’s Board of Directors approved the grant of non-qualified stock option awards to purchase an aggregate of 90,073 shares of its common stock, 5,000 restricted stock units and 4,000 performance stock units the target level to six non-executive employees. The options were granted on August 1, 2022, and the grant date for the RSUs and the PSUs will be the date on which Ligand files a Form S-8 Registration Statement to register the shares pursuant to Ligand’s 2022 Employment Inducement Plan. The awards were granted under the Inducement Plan as employment inducement awards pursuant to NASDAQ Listing Rule 5635(c)(4). The Inducement Plan is used exclusively for the grant of equity awards to individuals who were not previously employees of Ligand, or following a bona fide period of non-employment, as an inducement material to such individuals’ entering into employment with Ligand, pursuant to Nasdaq Listing Rule 5635(c)(4). The options have an exercise price of $89.70 per share, which is the closing price of Ligand’s common stock on The Nasdaq Global Select Market on August 1, 2022. The stock options have a term of ten years and will vest over four years, with 12.5% of the shares vesting six months after the employee’s commencement of employment and the balance of the shares vesting in 42 equal monthly installments thereafter, subject to the grantee’s continued service on such vesting dates. The RSUs will vest over three years on the first three anniversaries of the grantee’s commencement of employment, subject to continued service through each applicable vesting date. The PSUs will vest based on the achievement of certain total shareholder return objectives and the completion of the contemplated spin-off of OmniAb, Inc. from Ligand. The number of shares earned under the PSUs may be up to 6,500 in the aggregate if maximum performance levels are achieved. About Ligand Pharmaceuticals Ligand is a revenue-generating biopharmaceutical company focused on developing or acquiring technologies that help pharmaceutical companies discover and develop medicines. Our business model creates value for stockholders by providing a diversified portfolio of biotech and pharmaceutical product revenue streams that are supported by an efficient and low corporate cost structure. Our goal is to offer investors an opportunity to participate in the promise of the biotech industry in a profitable, diversified and lower-risk business than a typical biotech company. Our business model is based on doing what we do best: drug discovery, early-stage drug development, product reformulation and partnering. We partner with other pharmaceutical companies to leverage what they do best (late-stage development, regulatory management and commercialization) ultimately to generate our revenue. Ligand’s OmniAb® technology platform is a patent-protected transgenic animal platform used in the discovery of fully human monoclonal and bispecific therapeutic antibodies. The Captisol® platform technology is a patent-protected, chemically modified cyclodextrin with a structure designed to optimize the solubility and stability of drugs. Ligand’s Pelican Expression Technology® is a robust, validated, cost-effective and scalable platform for recombinant protein production that is especially well-suited for complex, large-scale protein production where traditional systems are not. Ligand has established multiple alliances, licenses and other business relationships with the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies including Amgen, Merck, Pfizer, Sanofi, Janssen, Takeda, Gilead Sciences and Baxter International.

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Hovione expands drug product offering with a new manufacturing line dedicated to Continuous Tableting

Hovione | September 07, 2022

Hovione, the leader in spray drying and particle engineering, announced that it has expanded its continuous manufacturing offering and services. A new state-of-the-art continuous manufacturing facility is now coming online at the Loures site in Portugal. In addition, to support Hovione's commitment to providing access and services for continuous tableting, Hovione has further strengthened its capabilities by establishing a highly experienced multi-disciplinary global team in continuous tableting and upgrading its labs with the tools needed to support the drug product lifecycle, thereby further guaranteeing competency and capacity from research & development to production. Continuous manufacturing is expected to change the landscape of drug product development and commercial production. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is partnering with the International Council for Harmonization and leading a global initiative to advance continuous manufacturing of small molecules and other pharmaceutical modalities. Hovione is offering customers a commercial continuous tableting platform prepared to support key control needs and deliver on operational excellence, mechanistic modeling, and appropriate process analytical technology (PAT). Additionally, Hovione´s quality system has been designed to support the release of continuous tableting products through automated in-process controls, deployment of real time release, and compliant digital infrastructure. This cutting-edge technology offers a distinct set of features and advantages including faster development of simpler processes, agile manufacturing for variable demand, robust control strategies and high process quality standards. "Hovione has been historically focused on innovative technologies that benefit our customers and patients. With this investment in continuous tableting, our customers can rely on our support to bring much needed medicines to the market as fast as possible with the highest quality and manufacturing standards. We are investing to accelerate the adoption of this technology as we continue to innovate and enhance our offering around our areas of expertise." Jean-Luc Herbeaux, Hovione´s CEO "This investment in continuous tableting from R&D to production further strengthens Hovione´s CDMO offering and responds to the growing customer interest." says Filipe Neves, Hovione´s Strategic Business Director. This latest investment in Continuous Tableting is part of Hovione´s broader strategy to build differentiated and enabling capabilities and assets to meet customers unique needs for oral dosage forms manufacturing. About Hovione Hovione is an international company with over 60 years of experience as a Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization with a fully integrated offering of services for drug substance, drug product intermediate and drug product. The company has four FDA inspected sites in the USA, Portugal, Ireland and China and development laboratories in Lisbon, Portugal and New Jersey, USA. Hovione provides pharmaceutical customers services for the development and compliant manufacture of innovative drugs, including highly potent compounds, and customized product solutions across the entire drug life cycle. In the inhalation area, Hovione offers a complete range of services, from API and formulation development to devices. Hovione´s culture is based on innovation, quality and delivery. Hovione was the first Chemical/ Pharmaceutical Company to become a Certified B Corp, is a member of Rx-360, EFCG and participates actively in industry quality improvement initiatives to lead new global industry standards.

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Aculys Pharma and SUSMED Have Entered into a Contract to Conduct the World's First Clinical Trial Utilizing Blockchain Technology

Aculys Pharma, Inc. | July 13, 2022

Aculys Pharma, Inc. a company focused on the development and commercialization of new innovative drugs in the fields of neurology and psychiatry, has entered into a contract with SUSMED, Inc., a company that promotes digital medicine to conduct the world's first1 corporate-sponsored clinical trial using blockchain technology. The clinical trial utilizing this blockchain technology, provided by SUSMED, will be conducted in collaboration with CMIC Co., Ltd., a pioneer in drug development support (CRO), with the cooperation of several medical institutions. With the sophistication of research and development and the increasing cost of new drug development, improving the efficiency of clinical trials is one of the challenges in the pharmaceutical industry that requires addressing. In such an environment, efficient use of resources and pursuit of efficiency are required. And improving productivity and quality of new drug development is also extremely important for society as a whole. Under these circumstances, Aculys Pharma is working to improve productivity and quality of clinical trials by utilizing AI and digital technologies for the development and commercialization of new drugs. The clinical trial system developed by SUSMED enables the reduction of data entry work and monitoring work2 by medical institutions by using the SUSMED-patented technology that binds e-worksheets and eCRF using blockchain technology. In addition to publishing multiple medical papers3, the clinical research that SUSMED conducted with the National Cancer Center has been approved by the Cabinet Office regulatory sandbox4. The result of the verification test conducted by the regulatory sandbox was published in the International Medical Journal in June 20205. With this outcome, The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare issued a notice on December 4, 2020 that source data verification (SDV: Source Data Verification) using blockchain technology is permitted as an alternative method under the GCP ministerial ordinance. CMIC will promote these efforts for attaining an efficient clinical trial by 1) supporting the operation of the system at the medical institution, 2) cooperating with development of the e-worksheet and eCRF, and 3) complementing the functions outside the scope of the system. This clinical trial which utilizes blockchain technology significantly reduces the number of processes around data entry at medical institutions and SDV compared to conventional methods, and also contributes to reducing the number of required CRA visits to the medical institutions. In addition, by taking advantage of blockchain technology, it is expected to have the effect of increasing the reliability of the clinical trial data itself. Through these methods, we aim to improve the efficiency of the clinical trial-related work-streams necessary for new drug development, and to optimize new drug development costs without compromising reliability. "We are delighted to be able to conduct a clinical trial utilizing blockchain technology in collaboration with SUSMED and CMIC as Aculys Pharma strives for providing new therapeutic modalities by making full use of the latest in digital technology. We expect this pioneering effort of three companies, which aim to improve the quality and efficiency of clinical trials, will realize digital transformation of clinical trial monitoring work and contribute to the optimization of new drug development costs. We will continue to actively introduce new technologies not bound by a conventional framework and aim to solve social issues surrounding Japanese healthcare by collaborating and partnering with external partners." Kazunari Tsunaba, President and CEO of Aculys Pharma, Inc Taro Ueno, President and CEO of SUSMED, Inc., stated as follows. "In the clinical trials conducted in the development of new medical technology, prevention of data tampering and cost efficiency have been issues. While developing therapeutic apps in the healthcare field, we have come to focus on the possibility of using blockchain technology in clinical development and continued research and development. This time, we are delighted to be able to collaborate with CMIC to conduct the world’s first clinical trials using blockchain technology in a corporate-sponsored clinical trial of Aculys Pharma, a company that focuses on the development and commercialization of new innovative drugs. We believe that utilization of blockchain technology enables us to realize efficient and reliable clinical development and we also can contribute for optimization and sustainability of future social security.” "CMIC was established in 1992 as Japan's first CRO and has supported a number of clinical trials of drug development. This time we are participating in the corporate-sponsored clinical trial of Aculys Pharma with SUSMED. While digitalization will furthermore drive acceleration of process efficiency, we will continue to pursue further improvement of quality and efficiency of clinical trials in monitoring work by utilizing CMIC's know-how based on numerous clinical trial experiences over the past 30 years." About Aculys Pharma, Inc. Aculys Pharma is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of innovations in the fields of neurology and psychiatry. Its corporate name was created from the philosophy of "Catalyst to Access." Aimed to act as a bridge for innovative medical care in the field of neuropsychiatry, Aculys Pharma develops and commercializes novel pharmaceuticals and provides innovations for better medical care to patients, their families, healthcare professionals, and society.

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Only the U.S. and New Zealand allow prescription drug ads to reach the airwaves; the rest of the world has banned them in all forms. But it's a different story for legalized recreational drugs, which, like tobacco ads, can't be broadcast. That's why you won't see a Marlboro man or a weed man  any time soon.

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