Throughout the year we asked for insight on these titanic events and what they might mean from a number of legal teams including Morgan Lewis, finnCap and BonelliErede. Be sure not to miss UK Biopharma and life after Brexit and The impact of Brexit on the pharmaceutical industry: Some preliminary considerations.
In the new year, companies will have to tread carefully until we better understand where these new factors will take us. Look out for our focus on how president Trump could shake up the industry in the upcoming issue of Pharmafocus.
The wider issue featured heavily during the US presidential race as Clinton and Trump clashed over ways to curb outrageous pricing, and since then, former-democrat candidate and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders has led the charge against big pharma’s unjust measures, calling out Sanofi, Lilly and Novo for allegedly colluding to raise their prices. And as Trump was named president, price control measure proposition 61 was defeated by popular vote. We delved into the pricing crisis facing the US in our feature Price hiking: US pharma’s elephant in the room.
The problem has also been rife in the UK, as NHS suppliers were investigated over hiking the price of the drugs they provided by as much as 1000%, while Pfizer broke records by being hit with a massive £84.2 million fine for overcharging the health service by 2600%.
This is a problem that never went away and is only now being placed under harsh scrutiny, so expect more pricing scandals to erupt in the coming year.
Even Facebook chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg took centre stage in the industry, launching his $3 billion Chan Zuckerberg Health Initiative alongside his wife Priscilla Chan with a remit to “cure, prevent or manage all disease within [their] children’s lifetime”. The initiative also managed to snatch up former chair of AstraZeneca’s genomics advisory panel Cornelia Bargmann as its president of science.
Looking forward to 2017, expect these types of deals to become the norm as the industry increasingly recognises the value and warms to the adoption of powerful new technologies.
Acquisitions are just part of the industry’s lifeblood, but as the precedent of increasingly larger deals is set, pharma companies may be seen to dig deeper in their pockets in future when looking to seize vital portfolio-expanding assets.
2016 saw the roll-out of the world’s first public immunisation programme against the dengue virus, courtesy of Sanofi. The company also announced its intention to co-author a vaccine for zika with the US government, later securing $43 million for its development.
The wildly different nature of developing markets and the challenges they present prompted GSK to pitch a global biopreparedness unit to pre-emptively tackle outbreaks in non-lucrative areas, while a new UN declaration to help fight the rising threat of drug-resistant infection saw signatures from 193 countries. With the issue taking centre stage in global affairs while remaining a crisis issue, it will surely remain something the big players will be keeping an eye on in the coming months.
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Allergan CEO Brent Saunders outlined the company’s new “social contract” with its consumers, with pricing, quality and safety of its products playing core roles. Novo Nordisk later pledged no higher than single-digit price increases on its products, and GSK vowed to put a stop to its previous practice of paying doctors to promote its products.
This new attitude is increasingly becoming the expected standard with debates on the topic burning tirelessly; earlier in the year, we looked at these discussions in depth with our feature The ethical battle for the future of pharma.
As the big players go on record with these commitments, the pressure is on for their rivals to follow suit, so expect more companies to make it clear they will be pursuing more equitable practices in 2017.
It is battle that will continue into 2017, with a fight between the lead medications expected over new indications whilst new players also come to the fore. As yet, Tecentriq has not entered into the field with as much force but positive results are boosting sales.
On top of this, the new field is exploding with research as everyone tries to enter the game. Pfizer has also recently announced a partnership with IBM Watson Drug Discovery to try find new targets within immuno-oncology. 2017 is expected to reveal far more research and a far more competitive field. (Ver)
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