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Investing News Interviews Irene Birbeck on Q1 Pharma Market

April 18, 2019 | Durham, NC

Partner Irene Birbeck was interviewed on the most impactful pharma news in the first quarter of 2019. An excerpt from the interview and a link to the full article from Investing News are included below. 

n an interview with INN, Irene Birbeck, partner with Clarkston Consulting, said that, while pharma companies are struggling to price certain therapies, it’s an exciting time to be in the industry.

“Frankly, it’s a less scary time to be a patient,” she said. “It’s [also] a less scary time to get a diagnosis, and, well, that’s thrilling.”

On the other hand, Birbeck said that one of the biggest problems for companies is figuring out a price tag for therapies so that research and development (R&D) can be funded. She used Novartis’ (NYSE:NVS) gene therapy Zolgensma as an example; it could potentially cost US$4 million for the one time treatment, according to a Forbes article from last November.

Zolgensma aims to target a deadly disease that impacts children who have spinal muscular atrophy type 1 and are thus at high risk of death by the age of two.

“What’s fascinating about drug pricing to me is that there is a bipartisan agreement on very little in [the US],” Birbeck said. “But on [therapy costs], there is a bipartisan agreement on the fact that drug pricing is an issue.”

In February, several executives from some of the top pharmaceutical companies testified in Congress about rising drug prices.

Led by Chairman Chuck Grassley, the hearing, dubbed “Drug Pricing in America: A Prescription for Change, Part II,” called Big Pharma to action to reduce astronomically high drug prices.

Executives from AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV), AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN), Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), Merck (NYSE:MRK), Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and Sanofi (NASDAQ:SNY) appeared before the Senate Finance Committee.

“[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.”

Read the full article here