More Bits and Bytes (No. 2)

Continuing the theme I started last week, here are a few stories I noted relating to the global health business and my comments.

Unlike the subtle pressure being put on drug prices in the US by insurers that I mentioned last week, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority of India announced recently that it was reducing the allowed retail price of 50 generic cardiovascular and diabetes drugs so no brand is priced at more than 25% above the average price of that category (FiercePharma article and Wall Street Journal blog). The immediate effect was a decrease in the share price of foreign and domestic pharma companies, and the longer term effect may be an increase of Indian companies increasing efforts to sell outside of India, especially in countries with third-party payers (the US and Europe) and growing middle classes (developing world).

Speaking of which, the Indian pharma company, Glenmark, will be selecting a site for a new factory in Canada or Mexico to serve the North American generic drug market. The company, which already has more that a dozen non-Indian plants, said it is planning a $100 million investment over five years (FiercePharmaManufacturing article). I’m glad to see a company intending to help bring US health care costs down.

In big news for ROW vaccines, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) submitted its malaria vaccine (called “RTS,S”) for approval by the European Medicines Agency last week (FierceVaccines article). GSK noted in a press release that it has expended $350 million and expects to spend another $260 million to complete development and that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, through the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative, kicked in $200 million (GSK press release). GSK also stated it that “the eventual price of RTS,S will cover the cost of manufacturing the vaccine together with a small return of around 5 per cent that will be reinvested in research and development for second-generation malaria vaccines, or vaccines against other neglected tropical diseases.” I am hoping that buyers, primarily health ministers in Sub-Saharan African countries subsidized by the Global Fund, will find this acceptable.

And in other vaccine news, PanVax, a California-based company that I have posted on previously (“Knick-Knacks”), obtained an additional $50 million in debt financing and $12 million in a Series B venture funding and will use the funds to complete acquisition of an approved oral typhoid vaccine (Crucell’s Vivotif) and for its ongoing Phase III study of a cholera vaccine candidate (PanVax press release).   PanVax’s mission: “We are committed to providing both attractive financial returns and social returns, without a significant trade-off between the two. As a double bottom line business, we will measure our financial success in terms of return on equity and we will assess our social returns by access to our vaccines globally, particularly to the poor and otherwise disenfranchised. We strive to develop and deliver vaccines that are affordable and deliverable anywhere in the world regardless of the state of medical infrastructure or supply chains.” (PanVax About).


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