(Reuters) – Aetna Inc, the third-largest U.S. health insurer, said it negotiated a discount with Gilead Sciences Inc for its hepatitis C treatment and will offer it as the preferred choice to nearly 11 million commercial customers.
Aetna, which posted an updated coverage policy on its website on Friday, said it believes the price it received for Gilead’s Sovaldi, and a newer combination treatment called Harvoni, is “competitive with other recently announced agreements for this class of therapy.” It would not detail the size of the discount.
By Bill Berkrot
(Reuters) – Researchers believe they have discovered a mechanism by which tumors eventually evade effective combination treatments for melanoma, providing clues that could lead to longer-lasting therapies for the deadliest of skin cancers.
The two-year study, led by Dr. Roger Lo of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, looked at tumor samples from 15 melanoma patients prior to therapy that combined a BRAF inhibitor with an MEK inhibitor and after they developed resistance to the drugs.
By Bill Berkrot
(Reuters) – Orthopedic device and surgical equipment maker Stryker Corp said on Wednesday it is eyeing growth through acquisitions, and has set its sights on improving market share for its products in Europe.
Stryker Chief Executive Kevin Lobo, speaking at the JP Morgan healthcare conference in San Francisco, said the company was in a very strong cash position that would allow it to make acquisitions that are “small, medium or even large.”
By Susan Kelly and Bill Berkrot
(Reuters) – Express Scripts, the largest U.S. pharmacy benefit manager, on Tuesday said cost savings on expensive cancer treatments could be achieved if the company were involved earlier in the decision-making process.
Express Scripts, which has become more aggressive in negotiating discounts on drugs for insurance plans and employers, in December stopped covering Gilead Sciences Inc’s hepatitis C treatments after lining up a cheaper price for AbbVie’s newly-approved alternative.
By Bill Berkrot
(Reuters) – Bristol-Myers Squibb and Merck & Co broke further away from rival drugmakers in the race to treat lung cancer with a new generation of immune system therapies, adding pressure on the likes of Roche and AstraZeneca to play catch-up.
Merck said it would file an application with U.S. regulators in the middle of this year seeking expanded use of its new Keytruda treatment for non-small cell lung cancer, the most common form of the deadly disease.
Jan 8 (Reuters) – Conatus Pharmaceuticals Inc said
on Thursday initial results from small early stage trials
supported continued development of its experimental drug for
patients with cirrhosis and liver impairment.
In one of the studies, the company tested its drug,
emricasan, at three doses in 21 patients with cirrhosis and
acute liver failure – the sickest patients on the liver disease
NEW YORK, Jan 7 (Reuters) – Halozyme Therapeutics Inc
believes it has a multibillion-dollar cancer drug on
The drug, PEGPH20, being tested against pancreatic cancer,
has the potential to help treat several other types of solid
tumor cancers, its chief executive said in an interview.
Jan 5 (Reuters) – CVS Health Corp, one of the
largest U.S. managers of drug benefits, said it would give
preferred status to the hepatitis C treatments from Gilead
Sciences and cover a new competing treatment from
AbbVie Inc only as an exception.
The latest salvo in the battle to grab market share for new
all-oral treatments for the liver-destroying hepatitis C virus
follows a move last month by CVS rival Express Scripts Holding
that favored AbbVie’s regimen after negotiating a price
discount below what Gilead had been charging its commercial
By Bill Berkrot
(Reuters) – Nestle on Thursday will announce plans to open 10 skin care research centers worldwide, deepening its investment in a faster-growing market for healthcare products.
The Swiss company, known globally for its chocolate bars, baby food and coffee, signaled a heightened interest in skin care earlier this year. It spent $5.7 billion for the rights to some injectable wrinkle treatments of Valeant Pharmaceuticals and for L’Oreal’s share of a dermatology joint venture the two operated.
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Shire PLC’s (SHP.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) chief executive said he sees no urgency to spend the windfall the Dublin-based drugmaker received when AbbVie (ABBV.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) walked away from a $55 billion takeover bid earlier this year.
AbbVie scuttled the so-called inversion deal in October after changes in U.S. tax rules aimed at preventing U.S. companies from redomiciling abroad to take advantage of lower corporate taxes.