Secret Drug Coverage Deals May Increase Consumers’ Costs Meanwhile, Walgreens continues efforts to strengthen its relationship with the drug wholesaler, AmerisourceBergen; and investors fret over Gilead’s next steps. Reuters: Gilead Shares Look Cheap But Investors Fret Over Growth The Chicago Tribune: Walgreens Builds Stake In Drug Wholesaler In other pharmaceutical news — Walgreens is strengthening its relationship with AmerisourceBergen, the drug wholesaler that supplies its stores, spending $1.2 billion to purchase a 15 percent stake in the Pennsylvania-based company. Walgreens Boots Alliance, based in Deerfield, entered a 10-year deal with AmerisourceBergen in 2013 and started building its stake in the company at the same time. It has options to purchase another 10 percent next year. (Janssen, 3/18) USA Today: Secret Deals May Mean Consumers Pay More For Drugs Shares of Gilead Sciences Inc (GILD.O) are trading at ultra cheap levels as investors broadly shed biotech holdings and question what the company could do for an encore after several years of torrid growth. To an extent, Gilead is a victim of its own success. The company, the largest biotech by market value at $120 billion, built upon a leading HIV medicine franchise by adding hepatitis C treatments that revolutionized care for the serious liver disease. (Krauskopf, 3/21) A cancer drug originally discovered in Britain has finally been endorsed for treating advanced prostate cancer before chemotherapy on the country’s state health service in a change of heart by the cost agency NICE. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) said on Monday it was now recommending Zytiga, which is sold by Johnson & Johnson, following the submission of new evidence on the drug’s benefits. (Hirschler, 3/21) Researchers are unlocking some of the mysteries surrounding migraines, raising hopes for a new class of treatments. Millions of patients who experience migraines would benefit from better medicines, researchers say. Drugs taken to treat the debilitating headaches don’t work in all patients. Meanwhile, drugs taken to prevent attacks were developed to fight other conditions, like high blood pressure, and have limited effectiveness. (Rockoff, 3/21) The Wall Street Journal: New Migraine Drugs Are On The Horizon NBC News: Americans Mix It Up Too Much With Drugs, Study Finds Secret deals often prompt drug benefit companies to cover brand-name prescriptions when equally effective generic or even over-the-counter medications are available, several drug pricing experts say. These companies, known as pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), negotiate deals with drug makers that include rebates and other compensation to encourage certain drugs and come up with lists of drugs that their insurance plans will cover. Employers and insurance companies then determine which drugs to encourage on these formularies. (O’Donnell, 3/21) More people than ever are taking bunches of medications and supplements that could interact in ways that make them worse instead of better, researchers reported Monday. (Fox, 3/21) Reuters: UK Cost Agency Backs J&J Cancer Drug In Change Of Heart This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.