David SellThis is a big day for Merck, which got fast-track approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a new drug to fight cancer.
The FDA said "yes" to Keytruda, which is the brand name for pembrolizumab. It is the first anti-PD-1 drug approved by the FDA for treatment of some of the deadly forms of melanoma.
Merck & Co., is based in Whitehouse Stations, N.J., and employs thousands of people in Montgomery County.
David SellThe serious number crunchers at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released their latest projections for U.S. healthcare spending from 2013 through 2023 and the numbers are staggering. The growth rate is near the historic low, helped by fewer expensive and blockbuster drugs in recent years, but will likely rise in the next few years as more Americans get older.
The report was published in Health Affairs. A link is here, though it is only available free for a week.
The Office of the Actuary of CMS projects that healthcare will account for 19.3 percent of gross domestic product by 2013, whereas it was a mere 17.2 percent in 2012. In dollar terms, economist Andrea Sisko said, the projected spending in the United States would increase from $2.9 trillion to $5.2 trillion. Yes, trillion.
David SellChesterbrook-based Auxilium Pharmaceuticals said Thursday it would merge with Canadian biotech company QLT, in a $345 million stock deal designed to avoid paying higher U.S. corporate tax rates.
The New Auxilium will be registered in Canada, but much of the organization will continue operating from Chesterbrook.
The Auxilium statement says, in part:
David SellMail order medicine is old news. But big pharma's attempts to squeeze every last nickel out of its top selling drugs now includes home delivery of a different sort, and AstraZeneca will host a Twitter Chat at 7 p.m., Thursday (tonight) from @AstraZenecaUS to discuss its program. The hashtag is #AZDirect.
Two AstraZeneca executives are scheduled to answer questions about the company's program: Linda Palczuk, a VP for Cornerstone and Commercial Excellence, and Rick R. Suarez, an executive director, GI and Foundation Brands. Through the program called AstraZeneca Direct, the company - via pharmacies and pharmacists, it says - is selling Arimidex and Nexium.
AstraZeneca, which recently fought off a takeover bid by Pfizer, is headquartered in London, but has operations in Wilmington and Newark, Del.
David SellLife sciences companies are like most other organizations and people: They like government when it does things for them and they dislike government when it does not - or taxes them to pay for roads, schools and the rest.
Pennsylvania Bio, the state trade association for the life sciences, is a bit worried about the budget negotiations in Harrisburg, so president and CEO Chris Molineaux called for reinforcements Thursday.
In an email to members, Molineaux urged PA Bio members to contact their favorite legislators to keep their favorite tax breaks in place. The 609 members in the PA Bio directory include pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device companies, but also organizations and companies connected to them, such as insurers, banks and patient advocacy groups. The PA Bio website is here.
David SellAbbVie chief executive officer Richard Gonzalez told financial analysts Wednesday that his company's $46.5 billion offer for Shire, Plc., is "compelling," and he declined to rule out going hostile in its takeover attempt, Bloomberg News reported. A link to the Bloomberg story is here.
Shire's appeal is that it is incorporated in Jersey, one of the Channel Islands, and domiciled in Ireland, all of which means lower corporate taxes that AbbVie faces in the United States. AbbVie's headquarters is near Chicago. Shire has facilities in Wayne and Exton.
Meanwhile, Shire repeated Wednesday its earlier assessment that the offer under value's Shire's current and future value.
David SellMerck's efforts to re-organize and re-energize itself to boost production of profitable medicine has included more licensing deals with smaller companies.
Tuesday brought another deal with Bionomics, an Australian company that has worked with Merck previously and will now work on the hunt for medicine for Alzheimer's disease.
According to the Bionomics, and as noted in the Pharma Letter, Merck will pay for all research and development, including clinical development, and will be responsible for worldwide commercialization of any products from the collaboration.
Drugmaker Shire Plc., which is trying to fend off a $46.5 billion takeover offer from AbbVie, told investment analysts in a Monday conference call that it hopes to double its revenue by 2020.
Shire is based in Ireland, but has operations in Wayne and Exton.
The Irish base is at least part of the reason that Shire is being pursued by AbbVie. Companies, especially in healthcare, have been scrambling of late to buy other companies so they can re-register in Ireland, which has lower corporate tax rates than the United States. Relatively few employees move to Ireland in such acquisitions. In the language of accounting, this is called tax inversion.