In general news, South Korean officials made a surprise and unusual announcement, from within the White House, declaring that North Korea is now willing to hold face-to-face talks with President Trump. It would be a dramatic turnaround if the meeting transpires. Related, Trump signed into law new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, which likely influenced China to pressured North Korea. The tariffs caused globalist Goldman Sachs alumnus Gary Cohn to resign from The White House. Meanwhile, adding to Trump’s good week, the February jobs reported showed that a record 313,000 jobs were added. Elsewhere, Florida’s governor signed new gun control laws, angering the NRA.
In healthcare business news, the PBM industry business model seems to be dead as the last standalone company, Express Scripts (ESRX), was acquired by Cigna (CI). UnitedHealth (UNH), which already has its own in-house PBM, promised to pass drug rebates on to consumers. Finally, Merck (MRK) partnered with Eisai (ESALY) to develop Lenvima to be used with Keytruda.
On the data front, Dermira’s (DERM) acne drug olumacostat glasaretil failed in trials. Shares plummeted.
From the FDA, Commissioner Gottlieb criticized the convoluted drug pricing schemes involving PBM’s, discounts, and rebates. Sunovion Pharmaceuticals (formerly Sepracor) received approval to market Latuda for bipolar disorder. Google-funded company 23andMe was approved to sell their home genetic tests to screen for BRCA breast cancer mutations. And in other regulatory matters, Martin Shkreli was sentenced to seven-years in prison.