What We're Reading: New Rules Could Derail Pfizer-Allergan Merger

What we're reading: new rules from the Treasury Department could derail the Pfizer-Allergan merger; false medical beliefs could lead white medical students and residents to suggest inappropriate treatment for black patients; and while prescriptions were down, sales were up for the top 10 drugs in the US.

New rules released by the Treasury Department could derail the impending merger between Pfizer and Allergan. The Wall Street Journal reported that the Treasury has imposed tougher and more aggressive curbs on corporate inversions—a strategy used by companies to reduce their tax burden—which could stall the $150 billion merger. Through an inversion, an American company (Pfizer) takes a foreign address through a merger with a smaller firm (Allergan in Ireland). The Journal reported that the new rules seem aimed specifically at the Pfizer-Allergan transaction.

A new study has found that white medical students and residents believe there are biological differences between blacks and whites and that black patients feel less pain. As a result, these medical students and residents were more likely to suggest inappropriate treatment for black patients, reported STAT. There were a number of false beliefs espoused by the white participants and those who had a higher than average level of false beliefs gave less accurate advice about 15% of the time.

Even though prescriptions for the top 10 drugs dropped 22%, sales were up 44%. According to Reuters, prices for 4 of the top 10 drugs increased more than 100% and the other 6 went up more than 50% since 2011. While Turing Pharmaceuticals and Valeant Pharmaceuticals were in the news the most for their drug price increases, routine price increases that drew less attention added up. While drug makers claim the Reuters analysis fails to capture negotiated discounts and rebates, that information is closely guarded.