Dispensed: A secret patch, a $31 million pay package, and Amazon's ambitions in a $300 billion healthcare-technology market

Hollis Johnson/Business InsiderWelcome to Dispensed: A weekly dose of pharma, biotech, and healthcare news

Hello!

Welcome to Dispensed, your weekly dose of the biotech, pharma, and healthcare stories that kept Business Insider’s healthcare team busy this week. I just got back from Seattle – stay tuned next week for some stories gathered from my adventures wandering around the city.

We unfortunately had some technical glitches last week, so if you subscribed then, please do so again! Promise it will be the last time.

And if you’re new to the newsletter? You can sign up here.

While I was out on the road, the healthcare team in New York and San Francisco kept busy, documenting the changes coming to biotech leadership and interesting venture funding.

For starters, on Monday Gilead confirmed it had picked Roche Pharmaceuticals CEO Daniel O’Day as its next CEO. Emma Court has the scoop on what direction he might take the company.

Gilead’s new CEO has a pay package of about $US31 million – here’s what he might do, and why Wall Street is cautiously optimistic

  • Roche Pharmaceuticals veteran Daniel O’Day will take over as CEO of Gilead Sciences next year.
  • Wall Street is hoping O’Day will put Gilead’s cash to work in big deals, but some say his track record for deals is limited.
  • Gilead’s flagging pipeline of drugs will need to be a top priority for O’Day – and there are already some hints about what his focus will be.

I chatted with O’Day back in August and got his perspective on Roche’s decision to acquire Foundation Medicine and Flatiron Health. It might be too much reading of the tea leaves, but I’m curious if O’Day will make some interesting bets/take some new strategies over

Emma also took a deep-dive into the state of peanut allergy treatments. There have been a lot of developments in the past year, and 2019 is shaping up to be the year of the peanut-allergy patch.

Peanut allergy medicineBI Graphics

A ‘secret’ patch shows the future of treating the most common food allergy, and two biotechs are competing to own the $US3 billion market

  • 2019 could be the year of the first treatments for kids with peanut allergies.
  • Two companies are competing for a market of around $US3 billion. Both are seeking approval from US regulators to start selling their products.
  • The treatments aren’t a cure, but do reduce the risk of a dangerous allergic reaction to peanuts.
  • Some parents say they prefer one product over the other, but it has a key drawback.

Emma also took a look at Biogen’s advances back into ALS drug development, even though it’s the area where it experienced the biggest failure in the past.

On the West Coast, Erin Brodwin took a look at a Silicon Valley startup that got a boost in funding for its approach to anti-ageing treatments.

The man who helped build Silicon Valley’s premier education startup is diving into the antiaging fight with a fresh $US18 million

  • Ben Kamens, the first hire and lead engineer of Silicon Valley education platform Khan Academy, founded a new startup called Spring Discovery, which is dedicated to defeating ageing and to extending life.
  • Spring told Business Insider it raised $US18 million from venture firms including First Round Capital (backers of Square and Flatiron Health) and General Catalyst (backers of Snap and e-commerce site Jet).
  • The new funding puts the startup on the map within the $US850 million antiaging field for the first time.
  • Spring aims to hasten the scientific-discovery process for therapies designed to reverse ageing using machine learning and hands-on research at an expanding lab in San Carlos, California.

It’s been a crazy year for private biotech funding, and this week was no exception. Erin reports that Zymergen – a company using organisms to make new products – raised $US400 million from SoftBank’s Vision Fund and Goldman Sachs.

Get this – that only makes it the third largest deal of 2018. Pitchbook tells us Vir Biotechnology and Allogene Therapeutics both managed to raise more in deals this year. What a year.

In the spirit of my Seattle trip, I took some time Monday to analyse Amazon’s health IT approach and what we know of it. Analysts are mixed on the impact the retail giant will have.

Amazon is dipping its toes into a $US300 billion healthcare-technology market, and it has analysts wondering if the retail giant has a shot at disrupting it

  • In November, Amazon announced a new service called Amazon Comprehend Medical, which aims to help hospitals, insurers, and pharmaceutical companies analyse their health-record data.
  • The move dropped Amazon into the $US300 billion healthcare-digitization market amid stiff competition from health-information-technology giants like Optum, Epic, and Cerner.
  • It has analysts mulling over whether Amazon could truly disrupt the market or if the incumbents can hold out.

And a quick Friday update on the urgent care front: Last week, I took a look at the industry overall and the dynamics shaping it as we get into 2019, and then on Thursday, two large urgent care chains merged, effectively creating one of the largest urgent care chains in the country rivaling MedExpress, a chain owned by Optum.

That’s all for now! Stay tuned for many Seattle dispatches and some end-of-year coverage next week as we head into the holidays.

As always tips? Stories we absolutely need to have on our radar going into 2019? Cookie recipes we should try out? Find me at [email protected] and the entire healthcare team at [email protected]

Don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter!

– Lydia

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.