Tuesday, May 27, 2008

An Association of One's Own: "Specialty" Companies Band Together

Q: What do these seven companies have in common? Celgene, Cephalon, Cubist, Endo, Millennium, Purdue and Sepracor.

A: Enough to form their own Washington, DC lobbying coalition.

Today's issue of "The Pink Sheet" reports that the companies are all founding members of America's Specialty Medicines Companies (ASMC).

Their first order of business: enacting legislation resolving once and for all what "specialty pharma" even means.

Okay, not seriously. In fact, the association is still in the formative stages, working with the DC antitrust law firm Constantine Cannon to get organized, set up a policy agenda and ultimately begin advocacy. (In particular, ASMC is represented by former Circuit City General Counsel Stephen Cannon and by former Patton Boggs attorney Todd Anderson.)

The members stress that they are not showing dissatisfaction with other DC trade associations--like PhRMA or BIO. Though it is safe to say that the companies will have a much bigger voice in this trade group than in any other.

And it certainly is an intriguing mix of members. Sepracor and Cephalon make a lot of money in the primary care market (thanks to Lunesta and Provigil), though both also sell more specialized medicines. Cubist sells the antibiotic Cubicin. Millennium and Celgene rely on the oncology market, though Millennium will soon be acquired by Takeda. Endo is usually considered a drug delivery company (and also has a branded generic business). Purdue, of course, is still most associated with the biggest drug-delivery/branded generic opportunity of all time: Oxycontin.

So it is by no means obvious what their common issues will be, except that each is a commercial business, all have first hand experience with the challenges of the regulatory and reimbursement climate in Washington, and none of them is big enough to shape the policy agenda of the major trade associations.

Come to think of it, that's a pretty good working definition of a specialty pharma company.

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