This week in pharma, AbbVie is showing signs of a strong year. Skyrizi, their, recent collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim, just got greenlighted in three different types of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. It is backed by key committees in the EU and is waiting on an FDA decision. The drug expected to gross over a billion dollars and is one of two drugs with large earning potential coming down the AbbVie Pipeline. Vascepa, a triglyceride lowering medication based off fish oil, was recommended as a standard of medical care by the American Diabetes Association in cutting CV risk in diabetes patients. This decision was based off the Reduce-It clinical trial data, where Vascepa was given concurrent to statins and was shown to cut major adverse CV events. However, the trail data is met with some skepticism. The critics of the trial design claim that the dummy pill skewed the data, indicating superior outcomes. However, This ADA recommendation will likely drastically increase Vascepa’s earning potential going forward. Novartis’ Mayzent was also approved in secondary progressive multiple sclerosis and is expected to gross 1.3 billion dollars. However, doctors don’t necessarily know when patients have progressed to the more advanced stage. Novaratis has launched an educational program aimed at physicians to get their drug to the right patient in order to mitigate this issue. AstraZeneca’s Farxiga was approved in by the EMA for patients with type one diabetes and a BMI greater than 27kg/m^2. However, there is concern about its approvability in the US following the rejection of its close competitor Zynquista by the FDA. On the wakes of the release of their trial data, for Farxiga, AtraZeneca has rolled a education program on preventing complications of the condition particularly CKD. This could be sign of heightened interest and investment in the lacking kidney disease market and should be monitored going forward.
Legislation between the state of Louisiana and Gilead have set an interesting precedent. Gileads generic unit has partnered with the state and will be providing the sole supply of Heptatis C medication to the area. The deal represents a much-needed influx of money for Gilead and could start a trend of states signing deals with pharma for exclusive sales rights in their boarders. It will be interesting to see where this so-called “subscription” practice goes. Merck placed big dollars into the development of the biologics site where it makes its immunotherapies. Merck currently holds a large stake in immuno-oncology as well as other areas of immunotherapy. With this move, It looks as though they will be doubling down on their investment to the continued expansion of biologics and the immunology market. While Merck made big investments, Bayer lost big bucks. A U.S jury found the company’s weed killer liable to a plaintiff’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and awarded them 80million dollars in damages This is worrying due to Bayers continued accumulation of debt following a merger with Monsanto and its resulting lack of investment power. This coupled with more pending litigation could lead to problems for company. Also, on the legal side, the Federal Trade Commission has homed in on the Celegene-BMS merger over the issue of control of the psoriasis market. This could force the two companies to sell off products to avoided future complications. Finally, Novartis and Alcon are cutting ties after an eight-year merger. Novartis said it will be withdrawing from eye care to focus on developing perceived block busters in their pipeline. Like some other large companies, Novartis appears to be looking to invest in organic growth going forward rather the continued reliance on their acquisitions.