Digital health news update: Healthcare policy in transition and the cure for what ails pharma

December 14, 2016

Author: Matt Arnold, Principal Analyst

 

  • In presidential transition news, names floated for FDA include Scott Gottlieb, a well-regarded GOP healthcare policy hand, and Jim O’Neill, a colleague of Trump pal and tech kingpin Peter Thiel who has some, um, interesting views on drug approvals and other topics, and also wants to create a floating libertarian utopia. Biotech industry figures and even some conservative health policy hands are expressing reservations. Meanwhile, contra Wall Street’s bet that a Trump Administration will forget about The Donald’s campaign promise to rein in drug prices, Trump told Time Magazine: “I’m going to bring down drug prices. I don’t like what’s happened with drug prices.” That’s pretty nonspecific, but it was enough to trigger a selloff in biotech stocks. Allergan’s Brent Saunders warned his industry peers last week to expect a populist like Trump to wield the bully pulpit against companies taking big price hikes, and Novo Nordisk promptly vowed to limit price increases.

 

 

 

 

  • At the same time, US healthcare spending rose 5.8% in 2015, the fastest rate in eight years, driven in large part by expanded coverage and by pricey specialty drugs.

 

  • The AMA and the AHA are among a quartet of organizations that have formed a “multi-stakeholder collaboration, Xcertia,” that will evaluate the quality, safety and effectiveness of mobile health apps. The initiative will not certify mHealth apps but will develop guidelines meant to serve as “a trustworthy resource to support consumer and clinician choice of mobile health apps.”

 

 

 

  • And Lilly is backing their Trulicity weekly type 2 diabetes drug with a branded app aimed at addressing adherence. They’re promoting the app directly to doctors by bundling it with sample packs. In addition to medication reminders, the app includes a demo of the Trulicity pen, videos and a live chat function. 

 

  • Merck is backing Keytruda with an unbranded campaign urging non-small cell lung cancer patients to get tested for biomarkers – Keytruda is indicated for first-line use in patients with the PD-L1 gene. The digital-centric campaign, dubbed “Test. Talk. Take Action,” includes a website housing a doctor discussion guide and video content featuring Scandal star Bellamy Young talking about her father’s cancer.

 

 

 

 

  • Speaking of Mylan, CEO Heather Bresch addressed the controversy over EpiPen pricing, but not before Congress. Speaking at the Forbes Healthcare Summit, Bresch blamed high-deductible plans and a lack of price transparency for the furore. “We’re the best shoppers in the world,” she said, but “There’s a lack of understanding of where the full list price goes and how it is divided in the system. The pharmaceutical pricing system was not built on the idea of customer engagement.”

 

  • Merck’s Ken Frazier had a lot of smart things to say about the value of prescription drugs and the “natural arc of innovation,” and regarding immunotherapy, he said “We are now at the equivalent stage where we were at when we had the first breakthroughs in HIV drugs. Maybe we’re not at the top of the first inning in immunotherapy, but we’re at the bottom of the first inning.”

 

 

  • Consumer advocacy groups are prodding the FTC to crack down on paid promotion by “micro-influencers,” sub-Kardashian-class KOLs who leverage their social media followings to plug products without disclosure.   

 

 

  • Three out of every four new advertising dollars will go to digital next year, according to a projection by WPP media buying leviathan GroupM.

 

 

 

“Interested in hearing more expert analysis on the healthcare implications of the outcome of the 2016 U.S. election? Register for our live webinar, taking place on Thursday, January 19, 2017 at 10 a.m. EST, and receive a complimentary ebook with key take-aways.”

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