The Voyage to Beantown

Pharmaceutical CommercePharmaceutical Commerce - August 2023
Volume 18
Issue 4

Pharma Commerce team attends DIA's Annual Meeting for the first time.

The final week of June brought the Pharmaceutical Commerce and sister brands Pharmaceutical Executive, Applied Clinical Trials, and Medical Device & Technology editorial and marketing teams together under one roof for event coverage, which was a rare occurrence. The Boston Convention and Exhibition Center was home to the Drug Information Association (DIA)’s Global Annual Meeting, featuring over 5,000 attendees from various branches of the life sciences sector. Oftentimes, the publications’ areas of focus don’t intersect, but there is a bit of crossover when it comes to certain topics, for instance, drug pricing and biosimilars.

As far as PC-specific coverage, I reported from several educational sessions, including:

  • “Is Mark Cuban Really Solving the Drug Pricing Problem?”
  • “The Inflation Reduction Act Price Setting: What are the Impacts on Biopharmaceutical Innovation from Different Perspectives?”
  • “The Future of Biosimilars and Interchangeable Biologics: Global Development, Harmonization, and the Inflation Reduction Act”

As a basketball aficionado, my mind immediately gravitated toward the drug pricing panel that references Cuban. It also featured moderator Nancy Brandish Myers, JD, CEO and founder of Catalyst Healthcare Consulting; Craig Barton, SVP of policy and strategic alliances and executive director, Association for Accessible Medicines; Josie Cooper, executive director, Alliance for Patient Access; and Vinod Mitta, medical officer, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Innovation.

Nicholas Saraceno interviews DIA’s Courtney Granville.

Nicholas Saraceno interviews DIA’s Courtney Granville.

Cuban—who is primarily known for being majority owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks—launched Cost Plus Drugs in January 2022, which as the session outlined, is an online-only pharmacy that negotiates directly with drug manufacturers, side-stepping pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and insurers to offer patients drugs at a lower cost.

Cost Plus Drugs provides more than 1,000 total generics, biosimilars, and brand-name drugs, and it is fair to point out that this compares with other online pharmacies, with the likes of Walmart ($4/30-day or $10/90-day fill for over 100 generics) and Amazon (flat $5/month for Amazon Prime members that sign up for RxPass for unlimited number of covered scripts, and 30-day fill for 50 of the most common generic drugs).

When PC and sister-brand editors were not attending the educational seminars, we also spent time conducting interviews at our show-floor booth and in the press room. One of several meaningful chats was with Courtney Granville, DIA’s global head of science and scientific strategy, who dove into the multitude of issues that are impacting the broader supply chain, such as drug shortages, the availability of raw materials, and last-mile transport. I also had the chance to speak with Venkatraman Balasubramanian, PhD, Orion Innovation’s SVP and global head, industry solutions, healthcare and life sciences, who explained how synthetic data—information that is artificially created with the help of computer algorithms—can be useful in the post-launch commercial environment.

As we gear up for the next show, you can always find our most recent article and video coverage at

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