What we're reading, March 10, 2016: spending on drug advertisements up 60% over 4 years; lawsuit between Gilead and Merck over hepatitis C virus drugs; and Tennessee considers allowing pharmacists to prescribe contraceptives.
Despite lawmakers pushing for tighter restrictions on drug advertisements, drug makers are pouring more money into TV and print campaigns. STAT reported that ad spending increased 60% in the last 4 years and 9 prescription drugs are expected to spend more than $100 million for ad time. Humira, Lyrica, Eliquis, Cialis, and Xeljanz were responsible for the most ad spend last year.
A lawsuit between Gilead Sciences and Merck & Co will kick off this week regarding patent claims on Gilead’s hepatitis C virus drugs. Merck wants a cut of Gilead’s sales of Sovaldi and Harvoni because the active ingredient, sofosbuvir, infringes 2 of Merck’s patents, reported The Wall Street Journal. Gilead is seeking a judgement that Merck’s patents are invalid. Gilead is also having trouble with AbbVie, which also claims Gilead’s drugs infringe patents covering various drug combinations.
Tennessee could become the next state to allow women to obtain contraceptives from a pharmacist. The bill, which would allow pharmacists who enter an agreement with a physician and meets certain provisions to prescribe birth control, passed the state Senate, reported USA Today. Since the pharmacist would still need to write a prescription, health insurance would cover the cost. This Tennessee bill follows similar ones passed in Oregon and California.