Morning Read: GSK CEO warns of big pharma shakeup, Valeant management will confront ‘pharmaceutical Enron’ claims

Valeant reacts to fallout over Citron report with conference call.


GSK CEO Andrew Witty warns that pricing pressure will lead to a shakeup of the pharmaceutical industry. — Financial Times

Valeant CEO Michael Pearson is calling all hands on deck from its management team and board members for a conference call Monday following an explosive report by short selling firm Citron Research. Its founder, Andrew Left, accused it of fraud and referred to it as a “pharmaceutical Enron”. It maintains Valeant has used Philidor, and an unknown number of specialty pharmacies like it, to generate fake invoices so it can book revenue for sales that never happened. — Business Insider, The New York Post

  • A profile of Left — The Wall Street Journal
  • It’s not the first whiff of scandal to hit the company. Before Valeant acquired it, Biovail Corp had an interesting history too, particularly its former chairman and CEO Eugene Melnyk, who was banned from senior roles at public companies in Canada for five years and penalized to pay $565,000 by the Ontario Securities Commission. The company also settled a complaint with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission after agreeing to pay $10 million to settle accounting fraud charges.  — Seeking Alpha
  • Here’s a copy of the complaint naming Melnyk.— SEC
  • Last year, Melnyk called himself a whistleblower over what he said were dishonest tax practices by Valeant. The article conveniently leaves out Melnyk’s own accounting record.  — Financial Post


Merrimack Pharmaceuticals got FDA approval for its pancreatic cancer drug treatment Onivyde. It’s designed to treat metastatic pancreatic cancer in patients who have failed to respond to chemotherapy drug gemcitabine. But it comes with a black box warning of a low white blood cell count. — Reuters

Europe has recommended approval of Amgen’s talimogene laherparepvec (“T-Vec”) for treating melanoma. – Reuters

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The FDA issued a safety warning that AbbVie’s treatments for hepatitis C — Viekira Pak and Technivie — could cause serious liver harm for patients with an underlying liver disease, such as cirrhosis.. — The Wall Street Journal

Nextremity Solutions, a foot and ankle company, has acquired a foot fusion technology from Del Palma Orthopedics. — Nextremity

A woman who may have the ability to detect Parkinson’s disease by smell is inspiring scientists. If they can tie it to a molecular signature, they could develop a diagnostic test for the neurological condition. — Washington Post


The second largest insurer in Wyoming, WINHealth, is shutting its doors after 19 years. Three licensed payers remain. — Becker’s Hospital Review

To support people with dementia, more cities are developing partnerships between businesses and healthcare organizations to increase awareness and provide activities for people with the condition.  — The Wall Street Journal

Someone should calculate the number of “what healthcare can learn from Uber” stories. It’s got to be in the triple digits by now. The latest example: what can insurers keen to be more consumer focused learn from Uber? — Modern Medicine

Just what you don’t want to see at a hospital: a cockroach infestation. — Los Angeles Times


Google is rethinking artificial intelligence and machine learning…as in, allocating more towards this area, according to its Q3 earnings. — Business Insider

An American Medical Association workgroup is hard at work developing billing codes for telemedicine. — Modern Healthcare

Quintiles and IMS Health will collaborate on late stage clinical research. — BusinessWire

The unsung engineers behind medtech milestones. — Health Care Communication News

Health IT company DrFirst has started a service as part of its e-prescirbing software that will provide real-time, patient-specific information to providers about a patient’s prescription drug benefit coverage and the out-of-pocket costs the patient will incur at the pharmacy for prescribed medications. —BusinessWire


Nurse Kaci Hickox, who was quarantined last year after she had contact with Ebola patients in West Africa, is suing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and state health officials who she contends held her against her will illegally. —The New York Times

The Centers for Disease Control wants to encourage people to boost their public health IQ with a health trivia game. — iMedical Apps


The plague dates back to the Bronze Age new research has found.  — Smithsonian