MILAN, 20 July (APM) - Amazon’s acquisition of PillPack has the potential to have a significant impact on prescription drug prices, a fund manager said in a comment piece published in Wednesday’s Il Sole 24 Ore.
Andy Acker, portfolio manager for Janus Henderson’s Global Life Sciences Fund, analysed efforts to stem rising drug costs. He said the main question about Amazon’s June acquisition is whether it will radically modify prescription drugs distribution in the U.S. PillPack has less than 1% of the retail and online pharmacy market so it seems unlikely.
However, PillPack specialises in chronic diseases which represent 80% of the prescription market. Amazon could exploit its size and technical skills to bring transparency to drugs pricing, Acker suggested.
The U.S. health system is notoriously complex with many operators, including pharma companies, pharmacy distribution groups, pharmacy benefit managers, pharmacies and insurance companies, in entrenched positions in the market.
The complexity increases costs. The Trump administration has made proposals to reduce them for patients in Medicare Part D. One of the ways could be to create greater competition between pharma producers so price reductions can be passed on to patients and there is greater transparency.
But the proposals are limited in scope and mostly just for Medicare. Amazon could make similar changes as those proposed by the government through PillPack, Acker suggested. The company is authorised to ship to 49 states and has relationships with major insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers.
Amazon also has more than 100 million prime users worldwide. If the company succeeds in strengthening the pharmaceutical service, with such a large volume it would have considerable bargaining power. That would give it the potential to have a significant impact on prices.
Italy/UK agree on measles strategy
Walter Ricciardi, head of Italy’s national health institute (ISS), met Duncan Selbie, England’s public health director, this week to discuss measles prevention, Quotidiano Sanità reported on Thursday.
It follows an editorial in The Times which claimed Italy has “exported” measles to England and suggested the government’s position on vaccines was to blame, the online publication said.
According to information provided at the meeting between Ricciardi and Selbie, there have been at least 7 cases of measles in Great Britain since the beginning of 2017 where infection came from Italy, four of them this year. But there have also been 4 cases of measles in Italy traced back to Great Britain since January 2018.
The two sides have agreed that numerous outbreaks of measles in Europe mean mutual cross-infection between countries is inevitable. They agreed that eradication of measles is an objective which should be pursued vigorously including through vaccination.
Sanofi’s Kevzara now available in Italy for rheumatoid arthritis
Sanofi’s Kevzara (sarilumab) is available in Italy for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, About Pharma reported on Wednesday.
The monoclonal antibody is for use in combination with methotrexate for moderately to severely active RA in adults who respond inadequately or are intolerant to one or more disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs. It is alo available as monotherapy for patients unable to take methotrexate.
Action needed to improve adherence to therapies
Actions are required to improve adherence to therapies, Il Denaro reported on Wednesday.
A survey by the citizens rights group Cittadinanzattiva and its patients association, Tribunal del Malato, showed that regional health services do pay attention to appropriateness of prescriptions but not so much to information and the use of technology to support patients so that their adherence is improved, the paper said.
Thirteen regions responded to a questionnaire. The results showed that regional health services rely on GPs most of all to ensure patients stick to their treatments, followed by specialist doctors and pharmacists. But no region looks to caregivers to help while patients’ groups are given only a secondary role, the paper said.
Tribunale del Malato is recommending that a national plan for chronic diseases needs to be implemented so that a more coordinated effort can be made to improve adherence.
Pharma industry, unions agree new deal for employees
Pharma employers and unions have agreed a new contract for employees in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, Il Sole 24 Ore reported on Thursday.
The deal for 2019-2022 includes a number of changes to ensure greater flexibility, training and increased productivity benefits to allow companies to operate more effectively, the paper said.
The head of Farmindustria, Massimo Scaccabarozzi, said the new contract was agreed well ahead of schedule. He highlighted how alliances with government institutions and unions help the industry in Italy stay competitive.