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Business in Brief

Appointments

  • Despite abolishing a rule that prevented CEOs running the company past the age of 65, Merck is now seeking a replacement for longstanding leader Ken Frazier, who is set to leave the company ahead of his 65th birthday in December. Frazier, who joined the company over 25 years ago, served as its CEO for 11 years. He oversaw a period of massive growth, with drugs, such as Keytruda, gaining reglatory approval and pushing sales past the $7 billion mark. Though there has been speculation as to who will fill Frazier’s shoes, no official statement has been issued by Merck.
  • Sanofi has hired Paul Hudson to be the company’s new CEO. Hudson, a British pharma executive, will replace Olivier Brandicourt, who left the company for early retirement. Hudson was a former executive at Novartis and will take the reigns at Sanofi from September 1. 

Pricing

  • As US Congress calls for caps on the price of insulin, Eli Lilly has launched Lispro, a generic version of Humalog with a list price of $137.35 per vial. The drug is 50 percent cheaper than its counterpart.
  • The UK’s Competition and Market Authority (CMA) has cast blame on four UK pharmaceutical companies (Alliance Pharma, Focus, Lexon and Medreich) for pushing up the cost of prochlorperazine, an anti-nausea drug often used for the treatment of patients undergoing chemotherapy. The price paid by the UK’s National Health Service for the anti-sickness drug shot up by 700 percent (from  £2.7 million to £7.5 million between 2013 and 2018) when the companies allegedly made an agreement against competition. According to the CMA, the agreement prevented rivals to Alliance Pharma from entering the market, driving up the cost of the drug. If the CMA investigation unveils unlawful conduct, each company could face a 10 percent financial penalty on their worldwide turnovers.
  • Novartis has set the price tag for Zolgensma ( a gene therapy for the treatment of pediatric spinal muscular atrophy) at a record-breaking $2.1 million. As a result, industry watchdogs and patients have asked whether companies are out of control in their attitudes toward drug pricing. Novartis claims that it used “value based pricing frameworks to price Zolgensma at around 50 percent less than multiple established benchmarks including the 10-year current cost of chronic SMA therapy.”

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    About the Author

    Maryam Mahdi

    Assistant Editor

    After finishing my degree, I envisioned a career in science communications. However, life took an unexpected turn and I ended up teaching abroad. Though the experience was amazing and I learned a great deal from it, I jumped at the opportunity to work for Texere. I'm excited to see where this new journey takes me!

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