A leading cancer specialist attacked the high cost of new cancer drugs at a medical meeting Sunday.
Leonard Saltz, chief of gastrointestinal oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering, said the monthly price of new cancer drugs in the U.S. had more than doubled over the last decade, to nearly $10,000. The prices are “not related to the value of the drug” but rather “what the seller believes the market will bear.” Dr. Saltz’s particular focus was on a promising new melanoma treatment made by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.
Drug prices aren’t normally a focus of such scientific confabs, which tend to be sponsored by pharmaceutical companies. You can take this as a clear sign that dissatisfaction with drug company pricing is reaching a new peak. Dr. Saltz’s solution: Medicare should be allowed to “negotiate” with pharma on pricing.
Also on Sunday, an overflow crowd of some 3,000 people – more than has attended any recent Hillary Clinton rally — gathered to hear Sen. Bernie Sanders fiery rhetoric about income inequality and corporate greed. We don’t consider Sen. Sanders as a serious candidate, but his surging popularity will force Clinton to tack left.
Enjoy the day. We’ll spend it closing the magazine’s Fortune 500 issue, out on Thursday.
• Intel looks poised to buy Altera
Intel will reportedly announce a roughly $17 billion acquisition of Altera on Monday, agreeing to pay a 56% premium to Altera’s trading price before talks between the companies were first hinted at in late March. A deal would represent further consolidation in the semiconductor industry, coming just days after Avago Technologies agreed to pay $37 billion for Broadcom. WSJ (subscription required)
• Senate lets NSA spy program lapse
The legal authority for U.S. spy agencies to collect Americans’ phone records and other data expired at midnight on Sunday after the Senate failed to pass legislation extending their powers. Republicans are divided on the issue: security hawks want the NSA program to continue while libertarians want to kill it. Democrat President Barack Obama, meanwhile, has pushed for a reformed measure. Reuters
• GE explores sale for lending assets
General Electric has reportedly kicked off a sale process for a roughly $40 billion portion of its U.S. commercial lending assets. The businesses include financing for dealers of boats and recreational vehicles, as well as loans to buy construction equipment. GE’s businesses could be sold to a single buyer or in pieces, a source told Wall Street Journal. Fortune
• Greece and creditors trade barbs
Greece and its creditors have let another one of the government’s self-imposed deadlines for securing a deal pass, as disagreements between the two sides persisted over budget targets. Greece is due to make four payments totaling almost $1.78 billion to the International Monetary Fund this month and its bailout package backed by the euro region expires at the end of June. Bloomberg
Around the Water Cooler
• Mutual funds vote to keep insiders in
Vanguard and Fidelity appear to be standing against investors who want to bring much-needed fresh air to the stale director selection process. For example, proposals that would allow investors to nominate directors as long as they held at least a 3% stake for three years or more failed at 18 companies this year. An analysis indicated that many of those failed proposals would have won if Fidelity had supported them. New York Times (subscription required)
• No. 1 city for female entrepreneurs
About 28% of Brooklyn-based startups that received funding between 2009 and 2014 had at least one woman founder. That’s the highest percentage in the country and well above the national average, outpacing other tech hotspots such as Boulder and San Francisco. Fortune
• Hefty price tag for promising drugs
Here’s the good news: a new study has found two cancer drugs, when taken jointly, can shrink tumors in nearly 60% of people with advanced-stage melanoma. The price tag for this treatment? Around $295,000 over nearly one year. If all U.S. patients with metastatic cancer took drugs at that price, it would cost $174 billion to treat them for just one year. Time
• Can Boston Market take flight again?
Before Boston Market landed in bankruptcy in the late 1990s, it was a stock market darling that posted a 140% jump for its 1993 initial public offering — a gain that outperformed what Chipotle and Shake Shack later posted. Though Boston Market, unlike other “fast casual” restaurants chains, won’t be seen as the next Chipotle, it is aiming to talk about the quality of the rotisserie chicken maker’s food more like many rivals. Fortune
5 things to know today
Jobs, NBA and IPOs — 5 things to know in the week ahead. Today’s story can be found here.