Jun 18, 2019

Big Pharma wants to sell cancer drugs

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Pfizer's $11.4 billion takeover of Array BioPharma highlights how eager industry titans are to commercialize cancer medications, making cancer the most in-demand pharmaceutical asset outside of gene therapy.

The state of play: Big Pharma wants to expand cancer lineups because cancer drugs command huge price tags that health insurers and society usually pay for uncritically. 

Where it stands:

  • Merck is acquiring Peloton Therapeutics for $1 billion. 
  • Eli Lilly is buying Loxo Oncology for $8 billion.
  • AstraZeneca is paying Daiichi Sankyo upwards of $9 billion for partial rights to an experimental cancer treatment.
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb is trying to complete a $74 billion takeover of Celgene.

And all of that is just this year's activity.

What we're watching: Array has 2 FDA-approved drugs on the market, Mektovi and Braftovi, and more in development. The drugs have high prices, and Pfizer is known for its routine price hikes — even in the face of political pressure.

  • Packages of 180 Mektovi 15 mg pills, 180 Braftovi 75 mg pills and 120 Braftovi 50 mg pills each had list prices of about $11,000 when they were approved last June. Array raised those prices to $11,500 in January, according to Elsevier's Gold Standard Drug Database.

Go deeper: ACA reduced racial disparities in cancer treatment access

Go deeper

Joe Biden makes first public appearance in over two months

Photo: Oliver Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden made his first in-person appearance in over two months on Monday to honor Memorial Day by laying a wreath at a Delaware veterans park, AP reports.

Why it matters: Biden, the Democratic Party's presumptive nominee, has taken the unprecedented step of campaigning from his home during the coronavirus pandemic, ever since canceling a rally in Cleveland on March 10.

WHO temporarily suspends trial of hydroxychloroquine over safety concerns

Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization is temporarily pausing tests of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment in order to review safety concerns, the agency's director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu said Monday.

Why it matters: The decision comes after a retrospective review published in The Lancet found that coronavirus patients who took hydroxychloroquine or its related drug chloroquine were more likely to die or develop an irregular heart rhythm that can lead to sudden cardiac death, compared to those who did nothing.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12 p.m. ET: 5,449,135 — Total deaths: 345,721 — Total recoveries — 2,188,200Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 a.m. ET: 1,647,741 — Total deaths: 97,811 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. 2020: Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina.
  4. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil Over 100 cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Top Boris Johnson aide defends himself after allegations he broke U.K. lockdown
  5. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks over Memorial Day.
  6. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 55 mins ago - Politics & Policy