Archive for September 1st, 2008

Amgen: A Small Concession

September 1st, 2008 | No Comments | Source: NY Times

Already backpedaling amid concerns about the safety of its anemia drug Aranesp, Amgen has announced it will curtail certain pricing practices that may have fostered overutilization of the drug.

Until the change, Amgen gave rebates to oncology practices that were heavy users of Aranesp, and gave Aranesp-prescribing doctors discounts toward the purchase of related drugs in Amgen’s quiver.

Pricing policies like this and the perverse prescribing incentives they create are common in the industry. Still, something had to give when Aranesp and similar drugs were found to accelerate progression of some cancers, cause cardiovascular problems, and shorten survival.

Although Amgen stock is up 35% for the year, things can’t be honky-dory in Thousand Oaks these days. Congress is investgating Amgen for its pricing practices and Medicare has cut reimbursement for Aranesp. To make matters worse, a batallion of blogospherists has seized on the news, turning the Amgen brand into a full blown populist cause.

Amgen management is running a gauntlet between its need to increase shareholder value and its need to do right by those who use its products. Everyone wants them to succeed, it’s just not everyone agrees on what constitutes success.


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What’s the EU To Do?

September 1st, 2008 | No Comments | Source: Boston Globe

Forgive the Europeans for being perhaps not quite so riveted by the unfolding situation in Louisana. It’s just that the EU is holding an emergency summit today for the purposes of crafting a response to the trampling of Georgia by Russia last month.

Britain and Poland are expected to call for a tough response. Angela Merkel’s coalition government is badly split on the issue, so Germany is a wild card. Other countries such as Italy and Spain prefer a more conciliatory approach.

Even as it lashes the south, Gustav has created an eye in the US political hurricane. We have a short time when it’s not politics as usual. We share fear and hope for folks in harm’s way and we want to see how the candidates react to the situtation. We also hope the candidates don’t take their eyes off the ball when it comes to critial developments outside the country.



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