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News Breaks
June 2, 2014
11:05 EDTAZN, CICigna, AstraZeneca in Crestor pact
Cigna (CI) has entered into a first-of-its-kind contract with AstraZeneca (AZN) to help ensure that customers are given an appropriate cholesterol-lowering medication based on their treatment needs. For Cigna customers who are at increased risk for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, ASCVD, and need to aggressively manage their low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, LDL-C, CRESTOR , a brand-name, cholesterol-lowering drug manufactured by AstraZeneca, can be prescribed and filled without requiring prior authorization. “Our arrangement with Cigna is an evolutionary step in supporting patient health, and facilitating access to CRESTOR for high risk patients. Predictive risk modeling can be used to help support the right treatment for the right patient at the right time, and we are excited to be working with Cigna because they are the only insurance carrier or Pharmacy Benefit Manager we have seen who has offered this capability,” says Philip de Vane, MD, Executive Director of US Medical Affairs, AstraZeneca.
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July 28, 2014
05:36 EDTAZNQIAGEN, AstraZeneca announce collaboration
QIAGEN (QGEN) announced a collaboration agreement with AstraZeneca (AZN) for the co-development and commercialization of a liquid biopsy-based companion diagnostic to be paired with IRESSA, AstraZeneca's targeted therapy for non-small cell lung cancer, or NSCLC. The project builds on a master framework agreement signed by both companies in 2013 and aims to develop and market a novel QIAGEN companion diagnostic that analyzes plasma samples to assess EGFR mutation status in NSCLC patients. The assay will be designed to guide the treatment of NSCLC patients with Astra Zeneca's oral monotherapy anti-cancer treatment when tumor tissue is not available. QIAGEN already offers the therascreen EGFR RGQ PCR Kit as a tissue-based companion diagnostic for lung cancer patients, which was approved in the U.S. by the FDA in July 2013 and in China in May 2014. The companies will collaborate to create a new companion diagnostic for IRESSA based on liquid biopsy samples from NSCLC patients, rather than requiring invasive surgical collection of tissue samples. Data from several studies, including the IFUM Study presented at the "World Lung 2013" conference, provided evidence of the ability to assess the EGFR status of advanced lung cancer patients using blood / plasma samples. This breakthrough provides hope for patients for whom surgical biopsy is not an option by enabling them to have their EGFR mutation status assessed using a less invasive method.
July 25, 2014
12:11 EDTCIWellCare profit warning sinks managed care names
A number of managed care names are falling after one of the companies in the sector, WellCare (WCG), preannounced significantly weaker than expected results. UBS, however, recommends using the weakness in the sector as a buying opportunity. WHAT'S NEW: WellCare, which specializes in managing Medicaid and Medicare plans, preannounced a second quarter per share loss of 7c, excluding certain items. Analysts on average expected the company to report a per share profit of 90c. The company's revenue came in slightly above expectations. WellCare cut its full-year earnings per share guidance to $2.20-$2.50 from $4.40-$4.75. The company said recipients of a new Medicaid program in Florida utilized more medical services than expected since the company began administering the program in May. Additionally, the company took an impairment charge related to an acquisition and it had an unfavorable reserve development. ANALYST REACTION: The factors cited by WellCare for the cut in its guidance appear to be specific to that company, UBS analyst A.J. Rice wrote. Meanwhile, data from other companies that administer Medicaid plans indicate that the increased utilization costs in that state are also specific to WellCare, Rice contended. For example, Centene (CNC) reported Q2 results earlier this week and indicated that utilization trends for newly covered beneficiaries in Florida was largely in line with expectations, while UnitedHealth (UNH) said its Medicaid business had performed well last quarter, the analyst stated. Additionally, WellCare said that its higher than expected medical utilization costs had been caused primarily by drug costs that exceeded its forecast, Rice stated. Since drug costs tend to be known relatively quickly, United Health and Centene would have divulged any issues with drug costs in conjunction with their Q2 results, Rice said. The analyst recommended that investors buy Aetna (AET), Cigna (CI), United Health and WellPoint (WLP) on any weakness today. PRICE ACTION: In late morning trading, Aetna fell 1.5% to $83, Cigna lost 1% to $95.50, UnitedHealth lost 1% to $84.50, WellPoint slid 1.5% to $113.50 and Centene tumbled 7% to $74 while WellCare plunged 19% to $62.
10:52 EDTCIWellCare issues largely company-specific, says UBS
UBS notes that aside from WellCare (WCG), which attributed its lowered guidance to the start-up of its Florida MMA program and other issues, that Centene (CNC), WellPoint (WLP), UnitedHealth (UNH) and Humana (HUM) are the leaders in Medicaid in the state. However, the firm believes a majority of WellCare's issues appear company specific and UBS views any weakness in UnitedHealth, WellPoint, Aetna (AET), or Cigna (CI) as opportunity to buy those four stocks, on all of which it has Buy ratings.
July 24, 2014
06:50 EDTCIConsumers received $9B in refunds from health insurers, The Hill says
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July 22, 2014
13:46 EDTCICourt upholds Obamacare subsidies, NY Times says
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10:43 EDTCIAppeals court bars subsidies in health care law
A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down part of President Obama's healthcare law by siding today with plaintiffs who argued that the law barred the government from giving subsidies to people in states that chose not to set up their own insurance marketplaces. The appeals court stated, "Because we conclude that the ACA unambiguously restricts the section 36B subsidy to insurance purchased on Exchanges 'established by the State,' we reverse the district court and vacate the IRS’s regulation." Twenty-seven states decided against setting up marketplaces, and another nine states partially opted out, according to the Washington Post.
05:25 EDTAZNAdams Express, MedImmune announce clinical trial partnership
Advaxis (ADXS) has entered into a clinical trial collaboration with MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca (AZN). The Phase I/II immunotherapy study will evaluate the safety and efficacy of MedImmune's investigational anti-PD-L1 immune checkpoint inhibitor, MEDI4736, in combination with Advaxis' lead cancer immunotherapy vaccine, ADXS-HPV, as a treatment for patients with advanced, recurrent or refractory human papillomavirus, or HPV,-associated cervical cancer and HPV-associated head and neck cancer. Both MEDI4736 and ADXS-HPV are cancer immunotherapies, a new class of treatments that use the body's own immune system to help fight cancer. Under the terms of the agreement, MedImmune and Advaxis will evaluate the combination as a treatment for HPV-associated cervical cancer and squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. The Phase I part of the trial is expected to establish a recommended dose regimen of MEDI4736 with ADXS-HPV, and the Phase II portion will assess the safety and efficacy of the combination. The study will be funded and conducted by Advaxis. Results from the study will be used to determine whether further clinical development of this combination is warranted. Under the terms of the deal, MedImmune has a non-exclusive relationship with respect to HPV-driven tumour types. MedImmune has first right of negotiation for future development of combinations involving MEDI4736 and ADXS-HPV.
July 16, 2014
10:36 EDTAZNTreasury calls on Congress to halt inversion deals
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08:01 EDTAZNAlexion names former AstraZeneca CEO David Brennan to board
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07:59 EDTAZNTreasury Secretary urges Congress to take action on tax inversions
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