Stat: Who wins and who loses if Amazon enters the prescription drug business

Will pharma be the next business Amazon disrupts?In industry after industry, the company has turned practices and expectations inside out — and the pharmaceutical world is the latest poised for change as speculation mounts that Amazon will soon start selling prescription medicines. Anticipation has been building for months, in fact, but it heightened last week on the news that Amazon (AMZN) obtained wholesale pharmacy licenses in at least a dozen states. (Silverman, 10/30)

Bloomberg: Amazon’s ambitious October spooks stocks standing in its path
The looming threat of Inc. siphoned billions in market cap from Under Armour Inc. to FedEx Corp. to Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. — more than $30 billion combined — in October. Companies are gearing up to face Bezos’s behemoth heading into the holiday season, with some appearing ready to get creative as the state of their industries is shaken. (Smith, 10/31)

The New York Times: The more lavish the gifts to doctors, the costlier the drugs they prescribe
When drug companies give gifts to doctors, the doctors prescribe more — and more expensive — drugs. The more lavish the gifts, the greater the effect. Researchers used data from the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services on the prescriptions written by doctors in Washington, and information from the D.C. Department of Health on gifts from pharmaceutical and medical device companies given to providers in 2013. (Bakalar, 10/25)

Stat: Pharma gift-giving sways nurse practitioners and physician assistants, too
Doctors, nurse practitioners, and physicians who were given meals, fees, grants, and other goodies by drug makers were much more likely to prescribe a larger number of medicines for each patient than health care providers who did not receive such payments, according to a new study. And often, the prescriptions were written for more-expensive, brand-name drugs. The study examined $3.9 million in gifts and payments made to more than 1,100 Medicare Part D prescribers in Washington, D.C., in 2013, and found those health care providers prescribed 2.3 more claims per patient than providers who did not receive anything from drug companies. (Silverman, 10/25)

Stat: Trump fumes at Pharma for many reasons. This drug exec embodies them
President Trump says drug makers are “getting away with murder” — and these days, there are few companies that better embody his frustrations than Celgene. The drug maker keeps lots of cash overseas. It does some of its manufacturing abroad. Three times this year, it’s hiked the price of its best-selling cancer drug. And the man presiding over the company, Bob Hugin, donates lots of money to “political people,” which Trump has blasted as a bald attempt to curry favor with the establishment. (Though, inconveniently, Hugin has also donated to Trump himself.) (Robbins, 10/30)

Reuters: U.S. drug pricing watchdog gets funding to expand efforts
A U.S. independent nonprofit organization that evaluates the clinical and cost effectiveness of new medicines said on Tuesday it has received significant new funding that will enable it to greatly expand its work. The Boston-based Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) announced a three-year, $13.9 million grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, which follows its initial two-year $5.2 million award from the foundation in 2015. (Berkrot, 10/31)

Stat: Lawmakers urge Trump administration to enact price-gouging penalty
More than a dozen U.S. senators have asked the Trump administration to proceed “as soon as possible” with a rule that would punish drug makers for overcharging hospitals, clinics, and other providers for medicines purchased under the federal government’s 340B drug discount program. The request comes after the Trump administration recently delayed implementation until July 2018, a move that followed previous delays and prompted fresh criticism that the White House was kowtowing to the pharmaceutical industry. (Silverman, 10/30)

Marketplace: Botox is a multi-billion dollar, potentially deadly monopoly
Botox is a $2.8 billion revenue stream for the pharmaceutical giant Allergan, and that number could grow closer to $4 billion by 2020. Botox is also the end user product of the neurotoxin Clostridium botulinum, a substance so lethal that the U.S. government puts safeguards on the Botox production process. (Ryssdal, Henderson and McHenry, 10/31)

Stateline: A bold step to control prescription drug prices
In a move that could lead to lower drug prices for Medicaid programs across the country, Massachusetts is asking the Trump administration for the authority to exclude some new medicines from the state’s health program for the poor. Amid a steep rise in prices for some medications that has strained state budgets in recent years, Massachusetts said that the change would give it leverage to extract lower prices from pharmaceutical manufacturers. And if the request is approved, health analysts say, many other states likely would follow suit. (Ollove, 10/26)

Kaiser Health News: Flurry of federal and state probes target insulin drugmakers and pharma middlemen
With the price of a crucial diabetes drug skyrocketing, at least five states and a federal prosecutor are demanding information from insulin manufacturers and the pharmaceutical industry’s financial middlemen, seeking answers about their business relationships and the soaring price of diabetes drugs. Attorneys general in Washington, Minnesota and New Mexico issued civil investigative demands this year and are sharing information with Florida and California, according to various corporate financial filings. (Tribble, 10/30)

Stat: A new team aims to slash drug development times, with help from feds
A global pharma company is teaming up with federal research labs and academics in an ambitious effort to slash the time spent screening potential cancer drugs before they make it into the clinic for testing. The new consortium — dubbed Accelerating Therapeutics for Opportunities in Medicine, or ATOM —  unveiled its plans on Friday, after a nearly two years of planning. Its goal: To cut the preclinical development time from six years to one. (Piller, 10/27)

Stat: Utah lawmaker crafting plan to import medicines from Canada
Seeking a way to alleviate high drug prices, a Utah lawmaker hopes to introduce a bill that would allow the state to import prescription medicines from Canada, a move that is likely to accelerate a fierce debate over drug costs and patient safety. Over the next several weeks, Rep. Norman Thurston, a Republican, plans to submit legislation to authorize state officials to designate an existing pharmaceutical wholesaler to purchase prescription drugs from a wholesaler in Canada. His hope is that retail pharmacies based in Utah would then be able to buy and sell medicines at lower prices. (Silverman, 10/26)

The New York Times: Novartis looks to buy french firm to bolster cancer portfolio
The Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis said on Monday that it had offered to buy Advanced Accelerator Applications of France for $3.9 billion in cash, as it seeks to bolster its portfolio of cancer treatments. The acquisition comes amid a slowdown in the value of deals in the pharmaceutical sector this year. Typically, large companies in the industry have made a major impact on merger activity in the wider health care sector, often buying up smaller drugmakers with emerging treatments rather than spending billions of dollars on their own research and development. (Bray, 10/30)

Bloomberg: Pfizer consumer unit’s sales fall ahead of divestiture call
Sales fell for a third straight quarter at the consumer-products business that Pfizer Inc. may offload, a slump that could pressure the price that the drug giant could get for the division. The drugmaker plans to decide next year what to do with the consumer business, which sells brands including Advil, ChapStick, Centrum. The decision could impact a bigger, later deal that investors have been speculating about since Pfizer’s failed attempts to buy Allergan Plc and AstraZeneca Plc. (Hopkins, 10/31)

Stat: Gilead’s Hepatitis C business is still shrinking and investors are freaking out
Gilead Sciences’ (GILD) hepatitis C business is still shrinking and executives don’t seem to know (or won’t say) when it will stabilize, sending shares lower by 4 percent Thursday night. In what was otherwise a benign third-quarter earnings report, Gilead lowered the top end of hepatitis C sales guidance for 2017 and warned that the fourth quarter would be rough. The problem: Competition from a newly launched and less expensive hepatitis C drug marketed by Abbvie (ABBV) that is taking market share. (Feuerstein, 10/26)

Columbus dispatch: Drug companies pour a record $58M in campaign against issue 2
Drug companies opposed to a statewide ballot issue aimed at lowering prescription prices have raised a record-smashing $58 million this year to defeat the proposal going before Ohio voters Nov. 7. Ohio’s previous high came in 2009 when the successful campaign to bring casino gambling to the Buckeye State drew $47.1 million. And campaign finance reports filed Thursday on state Issue 2 only include money raised through Oct. 18, so the new record could climb higher. (Candisky, 10/26)

Cleveland plain dealer: Issue 2 opponents, backed by big Pharma, outspend proponents 4-To-1
The opponents to Issue 2 outraised and outspent the proponents by a nearly 4-to-1 margin since July in the effort to upend the ballot initiative seeking to lower the price the state pays for pharmaceuticals. The pharmaceutical companies dwarfed the proponents by raising more than $41 million, all of it from the pharmaceutical industry, though exactly which companies are giving the money isn’t known. In-kind contributions of more than $800,000 bumped that sum to about $42 million total. (Richardson, 10/26)