Hello, and Happy New Year!
Hope you all had a restful end to 2018, because 2019’s here and it’s hitting the ground running. I guess I should have known that the week before a major healthcare conference would not necessarily be a slow week for news, even with a holiday on a Tuesday to divide up the week.
With the full Business Insider healthcare team back online this week, and a mega-merger and $US1 billion funding round on the same day, there was plenty to keep us busy.
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To start, the healthcare and finance teams at BI were all over the Bristol-Myers Squibb-Celgene $US74 billion merger news that hit on Thursday.
- From covering the breaking news of the deal’s announcement, which made it the largest healthcare deal on record when factoring in debt.
- To dissecting the reaction investors had to the deal (analysts are sceptical a combination will heal each company’s issues).
- We looked at the “synergies” the combined company hopes to achieve by joining forces and what that could mean for employees at the pharma and biotech giants. BMS said it expects to realise $US2.5 billion in synergies by 2022, which could mean jobs are on the table.
- And a tiny boutique bank landed a big role in the massive deal. Finance reporter Alex Morrell has the story on what that bank is all about.
And in case you missed it over the holidays, Erin Brodwin, as always, has been keeping close tabs on marijuana-related regulations.
On the heels of hemp legalization, regulators have fired a ‘warning shot’ to the $US1 billion CBD industry
- Earlier in December, Trump signed the US Farm Bill into law. It legalizes hemp, a plant that’s roughly identical to marijuana and is a key source of the highly touted wellness ingredient CBD.
- Hours after the law was passed, regulators released a statement emphasising their power to police CBD retailers, which already make up a roughly $US1 billion industry.
- Analysts called the move a “warning shot” to the thousands of cafes and stores selling CBD drinks, snacks, and supplements.
Erin also had the story on what Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is up to in health these days. Three words: implantable brain devices.
A group of Mark Zuckerberg-funded researchers is testing implantable brain devices as part of a $US5 billion quest to end disease
- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his pediatrician wife, Priscilla Chan, have sold 29 million Facebook shares to raise $US5 billion for an ambitious biomedical-research program called the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI).
- Related to the CZI is the Chan-Zuckerberg Biohub, which employs top-notch scientists from Stanford University, UC Berkeley, and UC San Francisco.
- Researchers including a Biohub investigator are studying a wireless implantable brain device, called the “Wand” for short, in primates.
- Published on New Year’s Eve, their first study details how the Wand records, stimulates, and disrupts movement in real time.
Emma Court took a look at what pharmaceutical drugs investors are keeping an eye on this year that’s definitely a good primer for the week (and year) ahead.
From the gene therapy that spurred a $US9 billion acquisition to a CBD medication for rare types of childhood epilepsy, here are the 12 promising drugs to watch in 2019
- Investors should keep an eye on 12 key new drugs going into 2019, according to Jefferies analyst Michael Yee.
- The medications range from a gene therapy that could be a game-changer for a rare disease to a CBD product for rare childhood epilepsy and a fish-based drug that could improve heart health.
- But new drug launches can be a bumpy time for companies, so buying shares in these drugmakers may not make sense, Yee said.
Emma last week also spoke to a Yale researcher who had a warning for those working on cancer immunotherapy.
A Yale scientist who pioneered a cutting-edge approach to cancer treatment is warning that the field is going off-course – and that drug giants could be making it worse
- A leading Yale scientist whose work helped a cutting-edge approach to cancer called immunotherapy get off the ground is now warning that the field has lost touch with the fundamental science.
- If current trends continue, “we are going to see a lot of negative trials in cancer patients,” the researcher, Dr. Lieping Chen, told Business Insider.
- Chen is particularly concerned about an approach that large firms like Bristol-Myers Squibb and Boehringer Ingelheim are taking.
- Yet another pioneering cancer scientist, whose company is focused on this space, said the worries could be unfounded.
A new year brings a new crop of price increases to the drug industry as well. Emma ran through the new increases from Allergan, BMS, Biogen, and others, with insight into whether 2019 might be the year we actually see policy changes that curb these increases.
Trump may have shamed Pfizer for increasing drug prices, but that isn’t stopping drugmakers from doing more of the same
- Since President Donald Trump called out Pfizer and other drugmakers for prescription drug price increases in July, the issue has largely stalled.
- Now, though, pharmaceutical companies are implementing new drug price hikes. One expert predicted that the increases could even be larger than usual.
- Expect to hear a lot more about the cost of drugs this year.
Finally, ahead of JPMorgan, I wrapped up some of my reporting from my December trip to Seattle. A big focus of mine that week – surprise surprise – was looking at where tech is intersecting with healthcare out there. Here’s what I gathered from my conversations with health execs:
- The hospital in Amazon’s backyard has a plan to disrupt itself before being disrupted by big tech companies
- We got 6 big predictions about how Amazon could disrupt healthcare from execs in the tech giant’s backyard
Erin, Zach Tracer, and I will be out in San Francisco next week, so be sure to say hi if you’re out and around Union Square as well!
In the meantime, feel free to send tips, party invites, or general words of encouragement to get us through next week to the team at [email protected] And as always, you can find me at [email protected]
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