• Google Life Sciences inked a deal with Sanofi to work on diabetes monitoring technology. The Google/Alphabet offshoot was already working with Novartis’ Alcon, Biogen and BG monitor maker Dexcom on separate projects. Sanofi’s flagship insulin product, Lantus, loses patent protection this year.
  • Kim Kardashian belatedly posted Diclegis risk information – complete with the hashtag #CorrectiveAd – just before Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards, which struck some observers as the Hollywood equivalent of Washington’s time-honored “Friday afternoon news dump.” Earlier in August, a Kardashian Instagram post for Duchesnay’s Diclegis drew a warning letter from FDA (as we suspected it might). The company’s remorse may be tempered by the massive publicity (450,000 Likes and a ton of earned media on the back of its dust-up with FDA) that the post generated.
  • CVS Health will pilot telehealth services in a dozen states, partnering with American Well, Doctor on Demand, and Teladoc. CVS is weighing different models of telehealth care provision, but in a pilot last year that “linked Minute Clinics via in-clinic telehealth systems,” one-third of participants preferred video visits to in-person visits.

 

  • Two big and arguably interrelated stories for the pharmacy world have dropped in recent weeks. One was Target’s decision to sell its retail pharmacy business to CVS, in part because of the complexity of the business. Another is the warning lights blinking on Wal-Mart’s pharmacy business, which has seen disappointing earnings due in large part to the ACA – in short, as more of Wal-Mart’s pharmacy customers are insured through the ACA, thereby enrolling in prescription drug plans that use their scale to negotiate price discounts, Wal-Mart gets fewer of their dollars.
  • In other Bending the Cost Curve news, scientific advisors to the White House want Medicaid to… pay for more Sovaldi scripts? The President’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS and the Public Health Service said current restrictions on newer HCV drugs like Sovaldi and Harvoni are “unreasonable and discriminatory” and “not supported by medical evidence.”
  • And FDA approved Amgen’s PCSK9 inhibitor drug Repatha for the treatment of people at high risk of cardiovascular problems because of genetic hypercholesterolemia. The drug -- which is the second in its class to win approval, coming a month after Sanofi/Regeneron got the green light for Praluent – will sell for an eye-popping $14,100 a year (which is $500 cheaper than the Sanofi drug). Despite the narrow indication, that price tag has payers worried.
  • Wellcoin – a virtual currency for incentivizing good health behaviors – launched with an impressive line-up of tech and commercial partnerships. Can it succeed where a bunch of corporate wellness programs have failed?
  • A legal victory by Amarin against the FDA has thrown into doubt FDA’s practice of punishing pharmas for providing information on off-label uses of their products to HCPs. At issue was Amarin’s marketing of its fish-oil product Vascepa, which is indicated for treatment of people with high triglycerides. Reps talked up the drug for broader usage not justified by the current label. The judge granted Amarin preliminary relief to “engage in truthful and non-misleading speech promoting the off-label use.” It will take a while for the legal implications of the case to shake out, but the legal push to roll back FDA’s regulatory purview has been making strides in recent years.
  • Pharmalot, the long-running blog/comments section fiesta of pharma peeps, has moved again to the Boston Globe, and as ever, you should be reading it on the regular.

Six healthcare policy questions hanging in the balance as the United States votes

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