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What We’re Reading: VA Will Cover Alzheimer Drug; Pfizer to Buy Seagen for $43B; Novo Nordisk to Cut Insulin Costs

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The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will cover Alzheimer drug lecanemab (Leqembi) based on inclusion criteria approval and other factors; Pfizer Inc. will buy drug maker Seagen Inc. and their targeted cancer drugs for $43 billion; Novo Nordisk will reduce its insulin costs by up to 75%, and also plans to discount other drugs.

Alzheimer Drug Gains VA Coverage

Eisai Co Ltd and Biogen Inc announced that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will cover their Alzheimer drug lecanemab (Leqembi) to veterans in early stages of the disease, said Reuters. The drug will be available if patients request it, receive prior approval, and meet strict inclusion criteria. Access to the drug is currently limited by multiple factors, including reimbursement restrictions by Medicare. Leqembi has been approved under the FDAs accelerated review program, and Medicare currently restricts drugs in that category. The drug manufacturers anticipate that Leqembi will receive full FDA approval by summer 2023 or by the end of the year.

Pfizer Will Buy Seagen for $43 Billion

Pfizer Inc. has agreed to pay $43 billion for biotech Seagen Inc. and its targeted cancer drugs, reported The Wall Street Journal. Current terms state that Pfizer would pay $229 per share in cash, with the deal, which includes debt, expected to close in late 2023 or early 2024. The purchase will likely face scrutiny from antitrust regulators who have increased their reviews of health care deals and other mergers and acquisitions. Seagen is known for its antibody drug conjugates, which enable more precise targeting of tumors.

Novo Nordisk to Cut Some Insulin Prices by up to 75%

Novo Nordisk A/S will slash US list prices for multiple insulin drugs by up to 75%, making them the latest drugmaker to lower prices as pressure mounts to contain diabetes treatment costs, reported The Washington Post. The company is one of the largest sellers of insulin in the U.S. and worldwide. The price of its NovoLog insulin will be reduced by 75% and the prices of Novolin and Levemir by 65% beginning in January 2024. Novo Nordisk also plans to reduce prices for its unbranded insulin products to match the lowered price of their corresponding brands. The move comes 2 weeks after Eli Lilly announced price reductions on some of its insulin products.

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