Week of April 17, 2023

This week we look at a range of topics in the life sciences industry, from drug pricing negotiations and long-COVID-19 treatment to quantum computing in drug development.

Each week we highlight five things affecting the life sciences industry. Here’s the latest.

U.S. health care insurers, health care providers and pharma companies are criticizing the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for its proposed changes to drug pricing laws. The changes allow CMS to negotiate prices for up to 10 drugs in 2026 without public input. Critics argue that CMS is expanding its mandate too far and argue changes could potentially harm innovation as they do not incentivize the development of newer and better drugs. Despite these criticisms, some analysts indicate CMS is well within its legal rights to make the changes.

Long COVID-19, the mysterious illness that can persist even after the initial infection, may be a smorgasbord of diseases that fall under one big umbrella. It’s a complex and often debilitating condition with potentially hundreds of different symptoms. While researchers are starting to get a consensus on what long COVID-19 is, the lack of a definitive diagnostic test, combined with the many possible symptoms, make designing clinical trials for potential treatments difficult.

Creating a “quantum-ready workforce” to develop new mRNA medicines using quantum computing and generative artificial intelligence requires new skills and partnerships. The goal is to combine quantum computing hardware, software development platforms, and in-house scientists to help predict a molecule’s properties and better understand how generative AI can design new therapeutics.

The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies will ask the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve the use of the stimulant and psychedelic drug, MDMA, for treating post-traumatic stress disorder following two successful trials. FDA approval would signal a significant turning point for the use of psychedelic drugs, which has been illegal for decades, making them difficult to study.

Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) have introduced legislation that would cap insured patients’ insulin costs at $35 per month for at least one insulin of each type and dosage form and require pharmacy benefit managers to pass through rebates from manufacturers to insurance plans. The proposal also includes provisions that would create a new, expedited pathway for the FDA to consider biosimilars and would allow Medicare drug plans to put biosimilars on their formularies as soon as they come on the market.

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