Eli Lilly and Co. got good news and bad news about its top-selling drug, the lung cancer therapy Alimta. According to Bloomberg News, a British court upheld a patent protecting a vitamin regimen administered with the drug and said that patent would be infringed by a generic competitor. Lilly's patent protecting Alimta's chemical makeup expires at the end of the year in several European markets, but the court decision makes it more likely that the vitamin regimen will last through June 2021. Alimta posted $2.8 billion in worldwide sales last year as Indianapolis-based Lilly's top-selling product, and analysts surveyed by Bloomberg expect Alimta will continue to generate sales of more than $2 billion through 2021. The bad news for the drug came from a task force convened by the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Using a new system for scoring oncology drugs, the task force awarded a zero out of 100 for overall benefit to a $9,200-a-month regimen featuring Alimta. Lilly spokeswoman Carla Cox said the company was still reviewing the system and said the assessment doesn’t represent the intended patient population of people with nonsquamous non-small cell lung cancer. “What I can say is that tools that make generalizations about the value of cancer medicines in the interest of cutting costs dismiss the continuous and complex nature of cancer innovation and could threaten future progress and patient access to better treatments,” she said.
Warsaw-based orthopedic device makers Zimmer Holdings Inc. and Biomet Inc. completed their $13.35 billion combination last week, 14 months after the crosstown rivals agreed to merge. According to Bloomberg News, the merged company will be called Zimmer Biomet Holdings Inc. and, beginning Monday, will trade under the ticker symbol "ZBH." Zimmer Holdings Inc. agreed to buy privately-held Biomet in April 2014 for about $10.35 billion in cash and $3 billion in stock. Zimmer and Biomet said they had about $7.8 billion in combined revenue in 2013. To gain antitrust clearance, Zimmer will sell the U.S. rights to some knee implant products to British competitor Smith & Nephew, and Biomet will sell the U.S. rights to an elbow implant and bone cement to DJO Global. The Federal Trade Commission said those deals will close within 10 days.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence sharply criticized the U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the Obamacare tax subsidies, according to the Associated Press. Pence, a Republican, said in a written statement that the ruling "is profoundly disappointing to me and every Hoosier who had hoped this ruling would give our nation the opportunity to start over on health care reform." The ruling allows about 160,000 low- and moderate-income Indiana residents to keep their subsidies. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates Indiana receives more than $51 million in federal tax subsidies to pay for health insurance. The average enrollee received a tax credit of about $320. But Pence said states could adopt better solutions that would lower the cost of health care rather than merely subsidizing it. "ObamaCare must be repealed and states must be given the flexibility to craft market-based solutions focused on lowering the cost of health care rather than growing the size of government," he said, adding, "It now falls to the American people to elect new leadership in Washington" that will repeal the overhaul.