Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Arena and New Merck Pull The Plug on MK-1903

Apparently, Arena's collaboration with New Merck -- on a new atherosclerosis drug candidate called MK-1903 -- is at an end.

Per Reuters reporting, tonight:

. . . .Merck's decision to pull out from developing MK-1903 came after a mid-stage clinical trial conducted on patients with dyslipidemia failed to meet the primary objective for efficacy, Arena said in a statement.

Merck indicated that the increase of "HDL" or so-called good cholesterol relative to a placebo did not meet the trial's pre-specified objective for efficacy, but did not tie its decision to any safety concerns, Arena said. . . .


Anonymous said...

A totally different thought but, prompted by your discussion on the Yahoo board.

Reimportation: with Canada as an example.

While probably not a direct relationship-don't the Canadians underwrite the cost of their negogiated cheap drugs (along with their universal health coverage) by their relatively higher taxes?

If so, why would they allow significant shipments of Rxs across the border?

Condor said...

Interesting, Anon.

For the benefit of those assembled, here is what I said on Yahoo!:

I do think the "allocation" argument (one PhRMA repeatedly has made, BTW) is somewhat naive. It claims that pharma will simply "short stock" countries that might be inclined to sell cheaper drugs back into the US.

You see, the idea of allowing safe drugs, made in FDA reviewed plants, but then sold to lower-margin markets (EU and Canada, for example) does NOT hinge on "simple" control of EXPORTS.

As a creature of legislation, the cheaper dug source could be acheived through any number of methods.

When Pharma -- through PhRMA and Billy Tauzon -- suggests that it would put Canadians "on allocation" -- it too-conveniently forgets a fact Tauzin (as a former legislator, himself) well-knows: Congress will be in charge -- Congress will make the rules, here.

There would be literally nothing to prevent the Congress from decreeing that pharma cannot put certain geographies "on allocation", unless the entire US is put on an equally strict allocation. [Something pharma won't want to do.]

In fact, Congress COULD decleare any such "allocation" plan a form of "unfair competition", or even a form of "price fixing". Each of these forms of conduct are already prohibited, under Robinson-Patman and the Sherman and Clayton Acts, among others.

So -- when it comes -- cheaper drug legislation may take a myriad of forms.

Pharma can't simply wave a magic "allocation" wand, and solve the fundamental problem that its pricing is anti-competitive, on a global basis.

In short, such a law, all alone, may turn out to be more injurious to pharma's profitability than ALL of the current reform packages' measures, combined.

And let's not forget that pharma's tab is now looking to be north of $100 billion, not the $80 billion originally thought. The House and Senate reconcillation process will see to that. . . .

My answers to yours, Anon., next.

Condor said...

Anonymous asked whether I agreed that ". . .don't the Canadians underwrite the cost of their negogiated cheap drugs (along with their universal health coverage) by their relatively higher taxes?

If so, why would they allow significant shipments of Rxs across the border?. . . .

Again, as I indicated in mine, above -- I think the Canadians' tax rates are a less important part of the equasion than the fact that the US is effectively OVERPAYING for the same drug -- and Congress knows it.

[Canadians need not sell into the US at all, to bring down US prices -- all Congress need do is change a few words in about six definitions in the Robinson-Patman Act, and the Clayton and Sherman Acts.]

I think my larger point is not so much that Canada or the EU will be THE source of cheaper drugs, made in the same FDA-reviewed plants, as that Congress will be willing, in the new year (in an effort ex-Presidential candidate McCain will join!), to demand that drug pricing be rationalized across geographies.

If PhRMA and Billy Tauzin won't do it, Congress will. And our 44th PResident will sign it.

SO, either way, the days of 40 percent markup on branded drugs in the US are coming to an end. And that will benefit the US consumer.

Namaste, and Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

Oh, I don't have a disagreement that Congress will get involved-it was more of a 'if they didn't and went the path of reimportation.'

More of a what if type scenario.

Anyway-a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Healthy New Year to you and yours.

Thanks for the discussion, insight and banter.

Condor said...

I enjoyed it -- the same to you and yours!