Washington Week: Drugmakers, PBMs Hammered Over High Drug Prices

medpagetoday | April 12, 2019

Washington Week: Drugmakers, PBMs Hammered Over High Drug Prices
WASHINGTON -- Members of Congress blamed and shamed key players in the pharmaceutical market for high drug prices, while also asking for their help; and the Trump administration quietly advanced its block grant strategy for Medicaid. Drugmakers, PBMs Run the Gauntlet at House Hearing No punches were thrown, but tensions were high during a House hearing on Wednesday, as witnesses representing drug companies and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) fought to shield themselves from blame for high insulin prices, and desperate and dying patients. Members of the House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, mostly Democrats, leveled a number of threats around price-fixing, and turning PBMs into utilities or getting rid of them entirely. "You're in trouble ... If you think you can out-talk us without any transparency, without any accountability, I just want you to know your days are numbered," said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) to drugmakers after highlighting how "curiously close in price" each one's product was -- in the range of $270-$280.
In the Senate, PBMs Plead Innocent Senators chastised pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) for using backdoor tactics and secret schemes that make drugs costlier to patients than they otherwise would be, during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Tuesday.

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PHARMA TECH

n-Lorem Foundation Partners with Alnylam to Expand Technology Access to RNAi Therapeutics for Patients with Nano-rare Diseases

n-Lorem a nonprofit Foundation | January 20, 2022

n-Lorem, a nonprofit Foundation, discovering and providing experimental antisense oligonucleotide medicines to nano-rare disease patients for free, for life, today announced a new partnership with Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Inc. “Discovering, developing and providing individualized medicines for nano-rare patients is a monumental task. At n-Lorem, using ASO technology, we take advantage of three decades of experience, unparalleled quality control and integrated safety databases that are used to select frequency and dosage for each individual ASO therapy. As we expand our highly selective and versatile model to other amendable technologies, it is important for us to maintain a high level of quality,” said Stanley T. Crooke, M.D., Ph.D., Founder, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman, n-Lorem Foundation. “Alnylam’s RNAi therapeutic technology is the perfect complement to Ionis’ ASO technology, both are well understood, proven drug discovery technologies. Adding Alnylam as a partner is another step in the creation of a broad network of partner stakeholders committed to treating nano-rare patients.” “We are pleased to partner with the n-Lorem Foundation in identifying opportunities to bring our novel RNAi technology platform to potentially help patients with nano-rare diseases. At Alnylam, we are committed to identifying pathways to expand access to our medicines and we applaud the work of the foundation in bringing together industry partners who are driven to provide options for patients that have little or no options for treatment,” Akshay Vaishnaw, M.D., Ph.D., President at Alnylam “Although we have the tools and expertise to understand nano-rare patients at a genetic level, the extreme rarity of these patients present insurmountable challenges to the current healthcare systems,” said Dr. Sarah Glass, Chief Development Officer, n-Lorem Foundation. “n-Lorem is addressing these challenges one nano-rare patient at a time and is supported through a consortium of well-renowned and diverse organizations worldwide. These include our biotechnology and pharmaceutical partners, including Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Biogen, Ultragenyx and today Alnylam; our clinical research partners, including Charles River Labs, Korea Institute of Toxicology and Parexel; our contract manufacturing partners, including ChemGenes, Cytiva and Nitto Avecia; and many other collaborations that make n-Lorem’s mission possible.” Alnylam is leading the translation of RNA interference into a whole new class of innovative medicines with the potential to transform the lives of people afflicted with rare genetic, cardio-metabolic, hepatic infectious, and central nervous system ocular diseases. Based on Nobel Prize-winning science, RNAi therapeutics represent a powerful, clinically validated approach for the treatment of a wide range of severe and debilitating diseases. Founded in 2002, Alnylam is delivering on a bold vision to turn scientific possibility into reality, with a robust RNAi therapeutics platform. Alnylam’s commercial RNAi therapeutic products are ONPATTRO®, GIVLAARI® (givosiran), and OXLUMO®, as well as Leqvio®, which is being developed and commercialized by Alnylam’s partner Novartis. Alnylam has a deep pipeline of investigational medicines, including six product candidates that are in late-stage development. Alnylam is executing on its “Alnylam P5x25” strategy to deliver transformative medicines in both rare and common diseases benefiting patients around the world through sustainable innovation and exceptional financial performance, resulting in a leading biotech profile. Alnylam is headquartered in Cambridge, MA. About n-Lorem n-Lorem Foundation is a non-profit organization established to apply the efficiency, versatility and specificity of antisense technology to charitably provide experimental antisense oligonucleotide medicines to treat nano-rare patients diagnosed with diseases that are the result of a single genetic defect unique to only one or very few individuals. Nano-rare patients describe a very small group of patients who, because of their small numbers, have few if any treatment options. n-Lorem Foundation was created to provide hope to these nano-rare patients by developing individualized ASO medicines, which are short strands of modified DNA that can specifically target the transcripts of a defective gene to correct the abnormality. The advantage of experimental ASO medicines is that they can be developed rapidly, inexpensively and are highly specific. To date, n-Lorem has assisted in the development and treatment of 14 nano-rare patients and received over 100 applications for treatment with more than 40 nano-rare patients approved. n-Lorem was founded by Stanley T. Crooke, M.D., Ph.D., former chairman and CEO of Ionis Pharmaceuticals, who founded Ionis Pharmaceuticals in 1989 and, through his vision and leadership, established the company as the leader in RNA-targeted therapeutics.

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PHARMA TECH

IACTA Pharmaceuticals and TALLC Corporation Announce Strategic Collaboration to Utilize Novel SmartCelle Topical Delivery Technology

IACTA Pharmaceuticals, Inc. | December 16, 2021

IACTA Pharmaceuticals, Inc. an innovation leader in ophthalmic therapeutics, and TALLC Corporation Inc. a pioneering ophthalmology company focused on the growing unmet needs of patients with corneal and retinal conditions, announced that they are entering into a strategic collaboration and licensing agreement. The agreement grants IACTA the use of TALLC’s proprietary SmartCelle™ micellar technology, a novel platform for pan-ocular drug delivery, for future clinical development. IACTA plans to utilize TALLC’s SmartCelle technology to deliver one or more of its novel ophthalmic therapeutics, as well as co-develop new ophthalmology therapeutic candidates that leverage IACTA’s formulation and clinical expertise with TALLC’s novel delivery technology. The collaboration also includes an option agreement, granting IACTA exclusive rights to negotiate a separate license agreement for the right to co-develop TALLC’s lead product candidate TA-A001, a novel anti-inflammatory anti-angiogenic molecule with analgesic properties in various disease state models. “I am thrilled to be able to partner with TALLC, a company with a shared vision focused on addressing the growing and significantly underserved ocular pain market. IACTA was formed with the mission of developing and commercializing innovative ocular therapies through novel compounds and utilizing leading drug delivery technologies, and we view this collaboration as the perfect synergy to realize the full potential of our ophthalmology pipeline. We are excited to explore how best to deploy the SmartCelle technology within our current pipeline, as well as the future co-development opportunities this partnership provides.” Damon Burrows, Chief Executive Officer of IACTA Pharmaceuticals TALLC’s proprietary SmartCelle pan-ocular drug delivery technology employs 30nm micelles that enable delivery of difficult to formulate drugs into corneal and retinal tissues after topical delivery. The company’s pipeline is led by SmartCelle TA-A001, a novel CB2 receptor activator, delivered topically to treat the effects of dry eye syndrome and age-related macular degeneration. “We are delighted to partner with the IACTA team for this important program. IACTA, with its in depth scientific and commercial understanding of the ophthalmic space is an ideal partner for TALLC as we drive towards further commercialization of the SmartCelle platform and TA-A001,” said Damon Smith, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of TALLC. “We look forward to working closely with the IACTA team and to co-developing SmartCelle versions of the IACTA pipeline.” About TALLC, Inc. TALLC is a Montreal-based developer of ophthalmic medicines actively engaged in the commercialization of SmartCelle TA-A001, and its pipeline of SmartCelle-delivered drug candidates, as treatments for acute and chronic inflammation. Focused initially on unmet needs in inflammatory front of eye indications, TALLC plans also to develop SmartCelle TA-A002 and TA-A003 in other chronic conditions including macular degeneration and glaucoma. SmartCelle enables pan ocular delivery of drug candidates by topical application directly to the ocular surface, by injection or by insufflation. About IACTA Pharmaceuticals, Inc. IACTA is an innovation leader in ophthalmic therapeutics, led by former top executives from one of the leading eye care companies in the world. The company currently has four products in development for major market opportunities. IC 800 is a novel, non-opioid, dual enkephalinase inhibitor, being studied for the treatment of acute ocular pain. In addition, IACTA’s IC 265, is a SYK kinase inhibitor being developed as a potential novel treatment for dry eye disease.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS

Pack4U acquires leading pharmacy technology company Catalyst Healthcare

Pack4U | January 07, 2022

Pack4U, a connected health services company, acquires long-time technology partner Catalyst Healthcare whose patented AdhereNet® platform links pharmacists, patients, and care teams to effectively manage drug complexity and improve medication adherence. "We are dedicated to improving patient outcomes at scale. Bringing this domain knowledge in-house is vital for Pack4U. Catalyst's CEO Shane Bishop is a pharmacy thought leader and we are excited about building the next phase of Pack4U with the Catalyst team on board. Catalyst's proprietary and patented platform strengthens our ability to meet the needs of patients, providers and health plans by offering a full, end-to-end, connected care solution seamlessly integrated with our vast clinical team across all states." Pack4U President, Rahul Chopra Pack4U provides in-home and virtual services that connect patients with pharmacists for oversight, medication delivery, remote monitoring, and care coordination. Our complete suite of connected health IP fortifies Pack4U's ability to personalize care, improve health outcomes, and lower total cost of care across North America. "I am extremely excited to see these organizations come together and to join the team that is transforming in-home healthcare," said Shane Bishop. "Pack4U's extensive and diverse team of pharmacists combined with Catalyst's adherence solutions, create opportunity for a new patient monitoring paradigm. With central fills for scale and community pharmacy adoption, we will reach more people to change more lives." "This collaboration follows our aggressive growth in 2021. It expands our vision of in-home care via a full suite of managed services featuring patient specific, in-home medicine dispensing, always-on patient engagement, electronic medicine administration record and supply chain software for centralized filling," said Rahul Chopra. About Pack4U Pack4U Inc is a tech-enabled health services company. We connect people with community pharmacists to manage drug complexity and maximize health benefits through personalized medication delivery, virtual monitoring, and proactive care. Our fully automated, high-volume central fill pharmacy hubs, proprietary health platform and medication adherence network power a robust, scalable solution to chronic condition management that leads to better patient outcomes and total cost of care reduction.

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PHARMA TECH

CSL Limited announces tender offer to acquire Vifor Pharma Ltd

Vifor Pharma Group | December 15, 2021

Global biotechnology leader CSL Limited and Vifor Pharma Ltd, a global specialty pharmaceutical company with leadership in iron deficiency, nephrology & cardio-renal therapies, announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement for CSL to acquire Vifor Pharma for an aggregate equity value for Vifor Pharma of US$ 11.7 / CHF 10.9 billion. CSL has offered to acquire Vifor Pharma in an all-cash tender offer of US$179.25 per share, payable in U.S. dollars.1 The offer assumes a dividend of CHF 2 expected to be declared at the AGM of 26 April, consistent with past practice. The tender offer represents an implied premium of approximately 61% to the unaffected closing price of Vifor Pharma on 1 December 2021 and a 47% premium to Vifor Pharma’s unaffected 1-month VWAP as of 1 December 2021.2 Patinex AG, Vifor Pharma’s largest shareholder holding 23.2% has agreed to tender its shares into the offer. The Transaction remains subject to the conditions and further terms including: Minimum acceptance rate of 80% of all Vifor Pharma shares on a fully diluted basis; and further customary offer conditions, including regulatory approvals. The tender is currently expected to commence around 18 January 2022 and the transaction is expected to complete around mid-2022. The Board of Directors of Vifor Pharma considers that the proposed transaction respects the interests of all stakeholders and is unanimously recommending the offer to shareholders. There is committed financing for the deal and a strong commitment to pursue regulatory clearances. “Vifor Pharma's strategy has been to focus towards continuing being a market leader in iron deficiency, nephrology and cardio-renal therapies. The offer provides an excellent strategic opportunity for Vifor Pharma to optimize future market opportunities from a position of strength and to create substantial value for all stakeholders.” Jacques Theurillat, Chairman of the Board of Directors Vifor Pharma Group The transaction will enable Vifor Pharma to leverage CSL’s global reach, balance sheet and capabilities to bring more products to patients within its key categories. The transaction also enables Vifor Pharma to accelerate growth in cardiovascular-metabolic, renal and transplant. Centerview Partners UK LLP is acting as exclusive financial advisor to Vifor Pharma on the transaction. IFBC have been retained as Fairness Opinion providers by the Vifor Pharma Board of Directors. About Vifor Pharma Group Vifor Pharma Group is a global pharmaceuticals company. It aims to become the global leader in iron deficiency, nephrology and cardio-renal therapies. The company is a partner of choice for pharmaceuticals and innovative patient-focused solutions. Vifor Pharma Group strives to help patients around the world with severe and chronic diseases lead better, healthier lives. The company develops, manufactures and markets pharmaceutical products for precision patient care. Vifor Pharma Group holds a leading position in all its core business activities and consists of the following companies: Vifor Pharma and Vifor Fresenius Medical Care Renal Pharma Vifor Pharma Group is headquartered in Switzerland, and listed on the Swiss Stock Exchange About CSL CSL is a leading global biotechnology company with a dynamic portfolio of life-saving medicines, including those that treat hemophilia and immune deficiencies, as well as vaccines to prevent influenza. Since our start in 1916, we have been driven by our promise to save lives using the latest technologies. Today, CSL — including our two businesses, CSL Behring and Seqirus- provides life-saving products to more than 100 countries and employs more than 25,000 people. Our unique combination of commercial strength, R&D focus and operational excellence enables us to identify, develop and deliver innovations so our patients can live life to the fullest.

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Spotlight

We are at a pivotal moment in healthcare history. An unprecedented convergence of medical knowledge, advanced analytics, and data science is revolutionizing patient care. With partners around the globe, Roche is bringing together a unique understanding of human biology with new ways to analyze health data to develop new precision medicines. Our vision is to transform the lives of people everywhere - ensuring the right treatment for the right patient at the right time. Explore personalized healthcare!

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