Welcome to Dispensed, Business Insider’s weekly healthcare newsletter. This week, it took a cold to make me realise just how much I talk as part of my job. Thanks to all who have been willing to move meetings around as my voice slowly gets back to its usual tenor.
Luckily, a head cold won’t prevent me from bringing you the biggest stories of the week from the team.
To start the week, I spoke with Alto Pharmacy CEO Matt Gamache-Asselin about the $US250 million round led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2.
Through my reporting, I got some insight not only into what’s ahead for Alto – now at a reported $US1 billion valuation – but also the second Vision Fund, which has yet to have outside investors in it beyond SoftBank.
SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2 just made its first bet on a buzzy US pharmacy startup. The CEO of Alto told us how he plans to use the fresh $US250 million.
- Alto Pharmacy, a startup that delivers medications, just became the SoftBank Vision Fund’s first foray into the pharmacy business.
- Reuters reported in January that Alto had raised $US250 million in a round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2, which valued the company at more than $US1 billion.
- “Really from the beginning I was surprised by the level of depth and rigour that got put on profitability and economics,” Alto CEO Matt Gamache-Asselin said of SoftBank’s investment in the startup.
Elsewhere in big venture funding, Andreessen Horowitz just raised its third biology-focused fund to the tune of $US750 million. It wasn’t the firm’s only health-related headline of the week – as my colleauge Avery Hartmans reports, the firm is asking visitors to avoid handshakes due to the coronavirus outbreak.
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Andrew Dunn this week took a close look at some of the efforts drugmakers are making to combat the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Drugmakers are dusting off their Ebola playbooks as they race to develop coronavirus treatments and vaccines. Here’s how 5 top firms are tackling a contagion that’s already killed 400.
- As the coronavirus outbreak has exploded into a global public-health emergency, leading drugmakers have begun researching treatments and vaccines to stop the virus.
- In recent days, Johnson & Johnson, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, GlaxoSmithKline, Gilead Sciences, and Moderna have all announced efforts to combat the virus.
- The virus’ rapid spread has instilled urgency in developmental efforts, which are set to test how quickly these companies can identify and mass-produce effective treatments.
Andrew also took a look at the HIV therapies companies are repurposing and testing to combat the virus. If it works, it could be a short-term solution to the outbreak, he writes.
Doctors are testing HIV drugs against the Wuhan coronavirus as scientists scramble to halt the outbreak
Like I said, the health and science teams over at Insider have been covering virtually every facet of the outbreak. I wanted to highlight this well-reported piece from my colleague Morgan McFall-Johnsen. She spoke to workers at 6 US hospitals about how they’re preparing to handle patients potential coronavirus cases.
Workers at 6 US hospitals reveal how they respond to potential coronavirus cases – including face shields and negative-pressure isolation chambers
Another sign that the DNA-testing fad is over
I’ve been tracking the downfall of the consumer genetics market for a few months now, but the layoffs to me signal a new level of severity and tightening on the business.
Plus, if it’s happening at the biggest companies in this space, what’s happening to all of the smaller companies also trying to make a name for themselves? We’ve seen one genomics player halt US operations. I’d imagine the reckoning isn’t quite over yet.
Which leaves me with a big question: What comes next? Will we ever get past the inflection point, or was the consumer genetics market always destined to be something only early adopters were into? Send me your thoughts: [email protected]
Out today, Andrew has post about how Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan voluntarily gave up $US400,000 of his bonus, citing the data manipulation scandal around Novartis’ gene therapy Zolgensma. (Narasimhan still made nearly $US11 million in 2019).
And I spoke with David K. Lee, the 37-year-old CEO of Servier Pharmaceuticals. He laid out for me the precise strategy he uses to advance his career.
If you’re planning on being at the BIO CEO conference next week, be sure to stop by a session I’m moderating on the evidence you need these days to successfully launch a new drug. Andrew will also be up for the conference, so be sure to say hi if you see him around Midtown.