If 2014 was the year of the emboldened U.S. payer, then 2015 promises to be the year of the pharma negotiator.
Express Scripts may have warned the world that it would use its gatekeeper status to force big hepatitis C discounts. But when word of its exclusive, discounted deal with AbbVie actually hit on Monday, analysts went a-Twitter, biotech shares slid, other payers pricked up their ears--and media outlets went berserk.
Companies in Egypt have been advertising Indian-made versions of Gilead Sciences' hepatitis C cure Sovaldi for sale. The problem is, none of the 7 drugmakers that were granted the right to produce the drug, 6 of them Indian companies, have gotten past development with the product. That suggests that whatever is being sold in Egypt is not really generic Sovaldi.
AbbVie has made Express Scripts' wish come true. Or perhaps it's the other way around. The proud new parent of Viekira, a highly anticipated hepatitis C cocktail, AbbVie now has exclusive access to millions of the pharmacy benefits manager's patients in return for a "significant discount" off its $85,000 list price.
Gilead Sciences is pushing further into oncology R&D, teaming up with Ono Pharmaceutical on a cancer treatment that could complement its first major success in the field.
After winning top reviews from the Harvard Business Review for his 2014 performance, Gilead's John Martin has picked up a "best CEO" nod from a prof at Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business.
A California cost-effectiveness panel is prepared to say this about Gilead Sciences' brand-new combination treatment for hepatitis C: It's cost-effective, even at an eye-popping price. But--and this is a big but--the state can't afford to pay it.
In what could be a test case for future payer lawsuits, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) has sued Gilead Sciences over "exorbitant" pricing for its hepatitis C drug Sovaldi.
Fundamental scientific and patient advances, as well as the investors who embrace them, have transformed biotech in just the last few years. As this has coincided with a broader resurgence in the stock market, industry valuations have skyrocketed. Suddenly, big cap biotechs Gilead Sciences and Amgen are larger than all but four of their pharma peers as measured by market cap.
In biotech, here are the top 10 news stories of the year so far, based on web traffic.