Name Game, Game Change?

I’m thinking “game” this weekend because the Patriots are in the Super Bowl, again, and I will need to watch it like the rest of Boston. I only watched my first football game two years ago when, surprise surprise, the Patriots were in the Super Bowl. Every sports fan knows the Patriots, I am told. It’s easy to cheer for your home teams when the names (Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins, Celtics) endure for decades. It’s harder when it’s the drug companies that make your factor concentrate. There’s a lot of game changing going on lately.

The news was announced just three days ago: Biogen, maker of Eloctate and Alprolix, has spun off its hemophilia division, which has now become an entirely separate and new company called Bioverativ.

Biogen’s two revolutionary products, the first ones with a longer half-life, were game changers. Now there are a few more choices for longer half-life products, but these were the first and were rolled out with much fanfare. Then boom! Three years later, Biogen doesn’t want them anymore.

This is just a reminder to us patients that this is a marketplace, and we are consumers. And companies need to make business decisions—hence the “game.” As consumers, it’s up to us to understand how the game is played, and who are the players. The names have been changing, more rapidly than I can keep up with in the specialty pharmacy arena, and those are truly game changers.

In the factor concentrate manufacturing arena, we had two name changes just in the last few months: Biogen to Bioverativ, and Baxalta to Shire. But this has been happening for years in our community, so here’s a review. It’s worth knowing the players—of which YOU, the consumer, are the most important!

Remember Alpha? Those of you who use Alphanate or Alphanine may wonder why these drugs are called that when sold by the Spanish company Grifols. Simple: Grifols bought Alpha Therapeutics hemophilia therapies years ago and simply kept the drugs’ names the same. (It’s hard to change a drug’s name.) In 2011, Grifols also bought Talecris, making it the third-largest global manufacturer of plasma-derived therapies. Oh, and Talecris? It was a spin-off from Bayer, which didn’t want to keep plasma-therapies anymore. Bayer’s plasma-product Koate-DVI went to Talecris, and Bayer kept Kogenate FS. If you look at the Koate-DVI packaging, you’ll still see the Bayer primary color line around the box!

Baxter Healthcare produced factor concentrates like Recombinate, Advate, Hemofil M and FEIBA. It spun off its hemophilia division, which became an independent company called Baxalta. That didn’t last long. Shire, an Irish pharmaceutical company, liked what it saw and scooped it up. All the former Baxter/Baxalta products now belong to Shire.

The biggest name changer is CSL Behring. I knew it in 1987 as Armour Pharmaceutical. Then in 1996, Armour and Behringwerke (a Geman company) formed a joint venture known as Centeon. Things happen fast: in 1999, Centeon became Aventis Behring. Why? Armour’s parent companies (Rhone-Polenc Rorer and Hoechst) merged to become Aventis. Meanwhile, CSL (an Australian plasma therapies manufacturer) acquired ZLB Blood Transfusion Services. In 2004, CSL acquired Aventis Behring, to form ZLB Behring, later called CSL Behring.

(There’s a comprehensive timeline of this interesting company here.)

Genetics Institute: anyone remember that? They developed BeneFIX and ReFacto (no longer on the market). It evolved into Wyeth, and then was bought by pharma giant Pfizer Inc.

Bayer is one that seems to have stayed the same, but it’s had name changes too. Bayer bought Cutter Labs in 1978 and Miles Labs in 1979. In 1995, they all became Bayer. I think Novo Nordisk (Denmark) has stayed the same… so far!
And some companies dropped out altogether, like the American Red Cross.  And new ones entered, like Octapharma (Switzerland) and Kedrion (Italy), tapped to distribute Koate DVI for Grifols. And Aptevo Therapeutics… oh, which was owned by Cangene (Canada) first, then Cangene was bought by Emergent Biosolutions in 2014! And they all originated from Inspirational Biopharmaceuticals, which in 2013 sold all its product rights to them, and dropped out of the game.

More passes than Tom Brady!

Whew! It’s amazing tracking the history of just the name changes: but we also need to know products. We are tracking who makes what on our website Hemophilia Factor Chart by Brand, available as a download. We are updating it all the time… a necessity to keep track of this ever-changing game, and business.

Putting the Fun in Insurance Education

Pulse on the Road Speakers

I enjoyed a lovely weekend in Cleveland, Ohio, a wonderful city that was enduring a collective sigh over the loss of the World Series. Still, with sunny skies we held another Pulse on the Road with the Northern Ohio Hemophilia Foundation. Program/Advocacy Manager Randi Clites invited us earlier this year and we were thrilled to finally make it.

A solid turnout of families came to hear Kelly Lynn Gonzales share her riveting personal story of advocacy. You can read Kelly Lynn’s story in our latest edition of Pulse magazine, available on our website.

Michelle Rice and Kelly Lynn Gonzlaes

I followed next, with a presentation entitled “Sympathy for the Payer,” a play on the song “Sympathy for the Devil,” appropriate as Cleveland is home to the famous Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I believe that if we can try to understand better how payers think, we can better advocate to them our need for access to product and providers for the best comprehensive care. I compared insurance to a chess game, and it’s our responsibility to know who the players are, what their moves might be and how to counter move.

Laurie Kelley introducing Patrick James Lynch

Michelle Rice, senior vice president of public policy and stakeholder relationship, NHF, then gave a new presentation called “Don’t Get Lost in Translation,” and shared the various acronyms, definitions and concepts payers use. All this information would be useful for someone with a bleeding disorder to self-advocate to payers, as Kelly Lynn successfully did.

Finally, after lunch… who knew insurance could be fun? Patrick James Lynch, of Believe Limited, and his teammates Ryan Gielen and Rob Bradford, engaged the audience in “Factor Feud,” a new game that allowed teams to compete using the knowledge they just absorbed through our presentations. Modeled after the TV game show Family Feud, Patrick acted as game show host and asked the teams at their tables to recall answers to various questions gleaned from our presentations. We all had a laugh when he asked the toughest question: What were the nine counter moves Laurie listed that payers have made in the last few years? Even I had a hard time remembering what I had said!

Patrick James Lynch

For each question Patrick charismatically posed, the teams consulted at their tables, racing against the clock. They wrote their answers on a white board, came to the front of the room—while game show music played and Rob swayed—and ta-da! Flipping their white boards over, Patrick read off the answers. The team with the right answers advanced an extra logo on the huge Factor Feud white board. Everyone got into the game immediately and loved it!

So not only did the audience of bleeding disorder families get tons of information about insurance, they got to revisit it, recall from memory, and compete to give correct answers. What an effective and fun way to learn!

Patrick is the perfect game show host, and the fact that he has hemophilia reminded me of how much talent and passion there is in our community. After the event, Sean, a father of a child with hemophilia, approached us and thanked us deeply for our efforts. He said this was one of the best information days he had been to.

Thanks to Sean for that, thanks to Randi Clites for hosting us, thanks to Shire for funding us, thanks to my fellow presenters—Kelly Lynn Gonzales and Michelle Rice—and thanks to Believe Limited for all the fun!

Answers please!

Patrick engages the audience

Ryan tracks the teams

The Factor Feud participants
Rob loves the 70s style theme song!

Susan Moore jots her answers down

Who won?

Baxalta, now part of Shire

Powered by their commitment to you.

There’s been a lot
of change in our community this year, but perhaps none so impactful as the
change in Baxalta, now a part of Shire. Please read below to learn more about
these changes, and click through to learn how Shire will keep on serving you!
Shire, is built on
strength and experience, and is powered by an enduring commitment to you. Each
company brings world-class products, as well as, a foundation for sustained
category leadership in rare diseases.
Combining 60 years
with 30 years of dedicated history to bleeding and rare disorders communities,
the new company has even more resources to offer. What that means for patients
is that Shire is maintaining its solid commitment to you while still offering
innovative products. Introducing new treatments for bleeding disorders, and
making a meaningful difference in the lives of patients and families continues
to be Shire’s main focus.
Shire’s combined
product offerings have expanded the range of therapeutic areas. Shire and
Baxalta are combining 30 years with 60 years of dedicated history to the rare
disease and hematology community. Together they are commitment to the
hematology community.
This is a paid announcement by Baxalta, now part of Shire.
August 2016

USBS/MG1/16-0527a
ADVERTISEMENT