Dispensed: Young blood startup is back, a scoop about CityMD, and telling remarks from Merck's CEO

Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesWarburg Pincus struck a deal to acquire Summit Medical Group and combine it with CityMD, which it already owns.

Hello,

Welcome to this week’s edition of Dispensed, our weekly healthcare newsletter here at Business Insider, where we’re hoping for sunnier weather after this rainy week. Lydia Ramsey is letting me (healthcare editor Zachary Tracer) take over this week while she’s off on vacation.

Questions? Complaints? Email me at [email protected]


New to our newsletter? You can sign up for Dispensed here.

First, the scoops:


Erin also published another story on the troubled poop-testing startup uBiome. This story focuses on the company’s short-lived partnership with Nurx, a startup that sells birth control online and recently ran into problems of its own.

Embattled $US600 million poop-testing startup uBiome once partnered with Nurx, a birth control company at the center of a New York Times exposé

  • The Silicon Valley health startup uBiome is in hot water on the heels of an FBI raid in April.
  • Founded in 2012, uBiome raised $US105 million from investors on the promise of exploring the microbiome, a “forgotten organ.”
  • As uBiome advanced from a citizen science project to a clinical-testing company, it overstated the medical value of its tests and prioritised growth over patient care, as reported by Business Insider earlier this month.
  • For a time, uBiome also used doctors who belonged to the clinical care network of Nurx, a birth control startup that was later at the center of a New York Times exposé, insiders told Business Insider.
  • Issues between Nurx and uBiome arose when Nurx required uBiome patients to submit photo IDs, insiders said. Also, Nurx physicians weren’t approving uBiome’s tests quickly enough, according to the insiders.

Need a refresher on all of our uBiome coverage?You can find it here.

To start the week, Collective Health raised $US205 million in a funding round led by SoftBank Vision Fund. Companies like Uber and Palantir use Collective Health to manage their workers’ health benefits.You can read the full story here.

Meanwhile, Emma and Clarrie Feinstein dug into Pfizer’s $US11 billion deal for the cancer biotech Array BioPharma. Click here to read Emma’s analysis of what the acquisition means for Pfizer’s strategy to fight cancer. And here’s what the deal means for investors.

Cancer-loaded DNA adheres to stable substances, such as gold.ShutterstockCancer-loaded DNA adheres to stable substances, such as gold.

3 biotechs that investors should buy next after Pfizer’s $US11 billion deal for cancer drugmaker Array BioPharma

Emma also dug into a revealing lawsuit involving CVS Health and Amazon’s PillPack business. The takeaway: healthcare giants like UnitedHealth Group and CVS could face increased competition.

We just got the first look at how Amazon’s $US750 million acquisition of PillPack could upend the US healthcare system

  • Amazon acquired the online pharmacy PillPack a year ago, signalling an entry by the powerful online retail giant into healthcare.
  • We just got a peek at Amazon’s disruptive new approach through a recent lawsuit, which alleges that PillPack is competing with big companies like CVS and UnitedHealth for a billion-dollar business.
  • Though it’s hard to know what will happen, the development could be negative for CVS, UnitedHealth, and other healthcare companies, the Jefferies analyst Brian Tanquilut and his team said.

Uptown, the drugmaker Merck held its first investor day in half a decade. Two questions were top of mind for investors: Who’s going to succeed Merck CEO Ken Frazier? And what’s next for Merck after the blockbuster cancer treatment Keytruda?

One crucial quote from Merck CEO Ken Frazier at an event for big-time investors in Manhattan shows the US drug giant at a crossroads

  • US drug giant Merck hosted a swanky event on Manhattan’s Upper East Side for investors on Thursday where it mapped out the future of the company.
  • Cancer drug Keytruda has become Merck’s top product and will continue to grow, Merck executives said. But “we do have tremendous growth opportunities beyond Keytruda,” CEO Kenneth Frazier told the audience.
  • The company is also preparing for leadership change at the top, after nearly a decade being led by Frazier.

Finally, I’ll leave you with some smart interviews from the healthcare team this week.

On a personal note, today’s my last day in New York. I’ll still be working here at BI, just from a new perch in Philadelphia. Want to meet up in Philly? Have a favourite spot for vegetarian cheesesteaks? I’m at [email protected]

You can also reach the whole team at [email protected]

-Zach

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