One of the largest investor health conferences this year, the J.P. Morgan Health Conference is taking place this week in San Francisco. Here are some of the hot topics discussed during the four day event that ends Thursday.

BioMarin Mulls Payment Plans

The President and CEO of BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc., Jean-Jacques Bienaimé, said he would consider making arrangements for the phased payment of experimental gene therapy of biotechnology for the treatment of hemophilia. At the conference, Mr. Bienaimé told the Wall Street Journal that Valrox's unique infusion would likely cost millions of dollars, as studies have shown that it can eliminate bleeding in patients and that current treatments Hemophilia taken chronically can cost millions of dollars. several years. "We are not trying to charge more than existing therapies," he said. "We want to offer better treatment at the same cost or at a lower cost."

Johnson & Johnson warns about prices

As politicians lower the price of drugs,

Johnson & Johnson

CEO Alex Gorsky suggested companies should control themselves. At the conference, Gorsky told investors that pharmaceutical companies should evaluate drugs in a reasonable and transparent manner. "If we do not do it as an industry, I think there will be other alternatives that will be more expensive for us," says Gorsky. Some drug companies withdrew from rising prices in mid-2018 after a thorough political review, but prices for many drugs rose in early 2019.

Marijuana drugs are promising

GW Pharmaceuticals

Last year, PLC received the first US FDA approval of a prescription drug derived from the marijuana plant to treat rare epilepsies. About the drug, GW CEO Epidiolex, Justin Gover, told the newspaper that the launch was going well and the demand was strong. GW is pursuing additional uses of Epidiolex and is developing other experimental cannabinoid drugs to treat diseases such as autism. "We overcame all the prejudices," he said. "We have shown how cannabinoids can be genuine medical treatments."

CVS discusses new stores

CVS Health Corp. Chief Executive Officer Larry Merlo has begun presenting the first concepts that the company will test as they begin testing new models of its drugstores incorporating its Aetna suit. The first new test store will open next month in Houston, he told investors, and will include expanded health care services, including a new janitor who will help patients ask questions.

Aetna spares on the way

Merlo also said when the company would realize the initial $ 750 million in synergies promised in the CVS-Aetna transaction. In the first quarter, he said that consolidating the company's functions would be beneficial to the company. The savings from purchasing and aligning drug lists should be visible in the first half of the year, he said. The medical cost savings will begin to affect the results by the end of the year, he noted.

Lilly Cuts Price

Drug maker Eli Lilly & Co. expects the average net price of its drugs in the United States – after discounts and rebates – to drop by less than 1% in percentage this year, told the Director-General Finance, Josh Smiley. Lilly's net prices increased in the first half of 2018, but fell in the third quarter as the company adopted a "moderate approach," Smiley said. Lilly, which has not yet announced its fourth-quarter results, announced some increases in the list prices of cancer drugs at the end of December, but did not raise prices in the new year, he said. declared.

Write to Peter Loftus at peter.loftus@wsj.com and Anna Wilde Mathews at anna.mathews@wsj.com