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Clarkston Consulting Interviewed on 2019 Life Sciences News

December 27, 2019 | Durham, NC

Partners Irene Birbeck and Janel Firestein were interviewed by Investing News Network on 2019 life sciences news. Excerpts from the interviews and a link to the full article from Investing News are included below.

During an April interview with INN, Irene Birbeck, partner with Clarkston Consulting, spoke about the challenges facing drug companies in terms of balancing drug accessibility and getting funding for research and development.

Birbeck said Novartis’ (NYSE:NVS) gene therapy Zolgensma — a drug that treats children with spinal muscular atrophy type 1 — is a perfect example of the struggle the industry is dealing with.

According to Forbes, the one time treatment of Zolgensma could cost US$4 million.

“What’s fascinating about drug pricing to me is that there is a bipartisan agreement on very little in (the US),” Birbeck told INN at the time. “But on (therapy costs), there is a bipartisan agreement on the fact that drug pricing is an issue.”

The problem was also discussed earlier this year when executives from AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV), AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN), Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY), Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and Sanofi (NASDAQ:SNY) testified in US Congress about rising drug costs.

Chuck Grassley was chairman of the “Drug Pricing in America: A Prescription for Change, Part II,” hearing, which called on Big Pharma to lower prohibitively high drug prices.

“(Drug price increases are) not the result of a system too complicated for Americans to understand,” Senate Finance Ranking Democrat Ron Wyden said. “Drug prices are astronomically high because that’s where pharmaceutical companies and their investors want them.”

An increase in high-value M&A proved to represent another driver for the pharma space this year.

“We’re seeing mega mergers occur,” Janel Firestein, life sciences industry lead and partner with Clarkston Consulting, told INN.

The expert explained these types of transactions will continue as companies in the market face questions about continued growth, investment and expansion in the pursuit of “the next big thing.”

Firestein noted that M&A activity slowed down for the space in the second half of the year, but other experts have said that the industry is still lively despite the trend.

In an October interview with INN, Samuel Macleod, senior healthcare analyst at GlobalData, said companies with novel treatments will continue to be top picks in the sector.

“This is mainly owing to the fact that Big Pharma has a track record of making deals with companies that have a focus on highly specialized biologics and other high-value therapies,” Macleod explained.

Read the full article on 2019 life sciences news here.