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

Updated 22 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Pence chief of staff Marc Short tests positive for coronavirus — COVID-19 looms over White House Halloween celebrations.
  2. Health: Fauci says maybe we should mandate masks if people don't wear them — America was sick well before it ever got COVID-19.
  3. World: Polish President Andrzej Duda tests positive for COVID-19.
What Matters 2020

The missed opportunities for 2020 and beyond

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Jason Armond (Los Angeles Times), Noam Galai, Jabin Botsford (The Washington Post), Alex Wong/Getty Images

As the 2020 presidential campaign draws to a close, President Trump and Joe Biden have focused little on some of the most sweeping trends that will outlive the fights of the moment.

Why it matters: Both have engaged on some issues, like climate change and China, on their own terms, and Biden has addressed themes like economic inequality that work to his advantage. But others have gone largely unmentioned — a missed opportunity to address big shifts that are changing the country.

Pence chief of staff Marc Short tests positive for coronavirus

Marc Short with Katie Miller, Vice President Pence's communications director, in March. Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times via Reuters

Marc Short, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, tested positive for the coronavirus Saturday and is quarantining, according to a White House statement.

Why it matters: Short is Pence's closest aide, and was one of the most powerful forces on the White House coronavirus task force.

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