Top Story

Morning Read: The latest salvo against Valeant Pharmaceuticals, meet the 2015 Nobel prize winners

Also news on Cell Therapy, Spark Therapeutics and the quest for an electronic data standard.

TOP STORIES

Here’s everything the general public hates about pharma and big companies in general in three damning paragraphs: massive price spikes, predatory layoffs, small R&D spends and manipulation of tax laws.

Valeant is an extreme example of practices that have been around in the pharmaceutical industry for years. The United States, unlike most countries, does not control drug prices, and pharmaceutical manufacturers have relied heavily on steady and sometimes outsize price increases in this country to bolster their revenue and profits.

Valeant is known for buying one company after another, and laying off their employees to achieve savings, while accumulating a debt of about $30 billion. It spends an amount equivalent to only 3 percent of its sales on research and development, which it views as risky and inefficient compared to buying existing drugs. Traditional big drug companies spend 15 to 20 percent of sales on research and development. Valeant also pays extremely low taxes because it is officially based in Canada, although Mr. Pearson operates from New Jersey.

Price increases provide an extra boost to the company’s sales and profits.

The New York Times basically dared Congress to regulate the industry. – The New York Times

Meet the 2015 Nobel Prize winners for medicine: William C. Campbell and Satoshi Omura were honored for their work battling infections caused by roundworm parasites, while Youyou Tu was honored for her therapy against malaria. – The Guardian

LIFE SCIENCES

British biotech Cell Therapy is considering an IPO in either the United Kingdom or the United States. – Financial Times

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Spark Therapeutics will file for FDA approval later this year after great results from its late stage trial. – CNBC

But shouldn’t we consider Valeant’s M&A as R&D? – Forbes

AtriCure will buy nContact, which develops cardiac ablation solutions, for about $99 million in cash and stock – along with a $50 million contingency payment, among other incentives. – Business Wire

Is everyone screwing up the discussion about CRISPR and gene editing? “The dispute over credit for CRISPR/Cas9 is not the result of exceptional coincidence and disagreement. In fact, it illuminates how science always works.” – Wired

The FDA has expanded Avita Medical’s compassionate use exemption for its ReCell skin treatment (24). – Marketwired

PAYERS-PROVIDERS

From 2013-14, primary care physicians saw reimbursement collections go up 3.3 percent in states that didn’t expand Medicaid. In states that expanded Medicaid, it went up 3 percent. – Forbes

What good is paying for a research study if it’s not going to agree with your world view, anti-vaxxers must be wondering. – Newsweek

TECHNOLOGY

Prometheus Research snagged a $250,000 NIH grant to help create its electronic data capture standard. – PRNewswire

Twenty-seven percent of doctor’s appointments in Britain could be eliminated through the proper use of technology. – The Guardian

POLITICS

A drug-price-control ballot drive is underway in California. – San Francisco Business Times

Policy failed, but publicity worked: The decline of “Big Soda” – New York Times

A LITTLE BIT EXTRA

Google upon its conversion to Alphabet removed its founding motto “Don’t be evil.” It has been converted to: “Do the right thing –  follow the law, act honorably, and treat each other with respect.” (Imagine the lawyers fees involved with that). The company also removed suggestions of how much alcohol to drink at work and deleted a rule that allowed dogs at work but banned cats. – The Independent

Photo: YouTube (DardenMBA)