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Business Meeting


August 2016 - September 2016

Pfizer to Buy Cancer Drug Maker in $14 Billion Deal

Pfizer has acquired Medivation, which makes the big-selling drug Xtandi to treat prostate cancer, with a $14 billion agreement, representing $81.50 a share in cash. Pfizer, just as all the other pharmaceutical companies, is making a big push into oncology. The main big reason is that cancer drugs can sell for well over $100,000 a year and so far have been more resistant to cost-cutting efforts by insurers than drugs for some other diseases. Xtandi has generated $2.2 billion in global sales in the last four quarters and analysts see sales eventually reaching $4 billion or more annually. Ian Read, chairman and chief executive of Pfizer, expects that proposed acquisition of Medivation will immediately accelerate revenue growth and drive overall earnings growth potential for Pfizer.

Why a Chinese Billionaire is Now the Biggest Investor in CHS

Turnover among top shareholders of distressed Community Health Systems has happened so dramatically over the past eight months that management could be excused if they need an introduction to the newcomers. The new largest shareholder of CHS is Tianquiao Chen, a Chinese billionaire, and he has announced that he had accumulated about 11.4 million shares of CHS, or 10% of common shares. During the time Chen and Wellington, second largest shareholder, were buying big into CHS this year, the company’s stock was trading for less than $20 a share whereas it was traded for $60 a share a year ago. Neither Chen nor Wellington likely intend to be activist investors and demand board seats to foist operational changes on management.

U.S. Funding for Fighting Zika Virus is Nearly Spent, C.D.C. Says

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that federal funds to fight the Zika virus were nearly exhausted, and that if Congress did not replenish them soon, there would be no money to fight a new outbreak. The C.D.C. had spent $194 million of the $222 million it was allocated to fight the virus. The issue of funding is urgent because the Gulf Coast, where the Zika mosquito mostly lives, is only about halfway through peak mosquito season and the chances that the virus could start circulating in Houston or New Orleans are relatively high. There is currently a record of 16 infants born in the US with Zika-related microcephaly.

HCA Pouring $2.7 Billion into Hub Hospitals and Markets

HCA Holdings plans to spend $2.7 billion this year to expand patient access in its hub markets. HCA, the nation’s largest investor-owned hospital chain, is developing more than a dozen free-standing emergency rooms in its markets through 2017 to go along with the 57 already open. HCA is also adding ambulatory surgery centers, urgent-care centers, diagnostic centers, and new hospital wings to provide convenience and the right setting for the severity of illnesses and injuries. Healthcare demand has been up 4% and more across the country. But that is likely to taper to a more traditional 2% rate and HCA wants to be ready to capture those patients at any point in the continuum by having the facilities in place when patients come.

EpiPen Price Rises Could Mean More Riches for Mylan Executives

Mylan, the pharmaceutical giant, has been vilified for price increases on its EpiPen allergy treatment. Although Nina Devlin, a spokesperson stated that Mylan’s big price increases were not intended to help propel its performance toward the earnings and stock price targets, Brian Foley, an independent compensation consultant argued it is impossible to separate the company’s business decisions from its pay practice. Under the grant, Mylan executives will be rewarded if the company’s earnings and stock price meet certain goals by the end of 2018. Given that EpiPen accounted for $1 billion of Mylan’s $9.4 billion in revenue in its most recent year, the allergy treatment’s price increases seem integral to meeting those targets and generating a big payday.

Obamacare Premiums Set to Rise, Even for Savvy Shoppers

In the last few years, even though premiums in the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplaces were rising, most customers could avoid a big price rise by shopping for a cheaper plan. Next year, according to a preliminary analysis, that is going to be a lot harder. There is expected to be an average premium increase of 11%. The plans that were least expensive this year in the popular “silver” category are no longer price leaders in most markets. People who want to stay in their current plan could face much larger increases.

A Push to Lower Drug Prices That Hit Insurers and Employers the Hardest

Insurers and employers say that a big financial shock has come from a largely overlooked source: expensive anti-inflammatory medications like Humira and Enbrel, drugs taken by millions of people for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. In recent years, the prices of these medications have doubled, making them the costliest drug class in the country. Express Scripts, the nation’s largest drug benefits manager, changed its recommendations to insurers and employers saying they should cover fewer drugs for many inflammatory conditions. The idea is that the new limits will force drug companies to lower their prices, saving insurers and employers money.

Pfizer Snaps Up Gene Therapy Group Bamboo for $645m

Pfizer has snapped up the remaining stake in privately-held, US gene therapy group Bamboo Therapeutics in a deal that could be worth as much $645 million. The US drug giant already owned around 22% of the firm’s fully diluted equity, and has now acquired the remainder for an upfront payment of $150 million. Under the deal, Bamboo’s selling shareholders will also be eligible for potential milestone payments of up to $495 million contingent upon the progression of key assets through development, regulatory approval and commercialization. The move significantly ramps up Pfizer’s expertise in gene therapy.

Pharma Industry Should Self-Police Drug Prices, Allergan CEO Says

Recently, a pharmaceutical company, which makes products such as Botox, pledged to limit annual increases on prescription drugs and Brent Saunders, Allergan CEO believes others can and should do the same. He says that government intervention isn’t the answer to keeping drug prices in line. Saunders announced that Allergan would self-police their prices and raise prices no more than once a year. Allergan is getting a positive feedback from the drug industry.

Why You’ve Probably Never Heard of the Mysterious Scientist Behind One of the Greatest Advances in Neuroscience

The new lab technique, called optogenetics, is one of the biggest breakthroughs in neuroscience in decades and it has the potential to cure blindness, treat Parkinson’s disease, and relieve chronic pain. Two American inventors, Karl Deisseroth at Stanford University and Ed Boyden at the MIT have collected tens of millions in grants and won millions in prize money in recent years for their breakthrough invention. However, it turns out that it may be Zhuo-Hua Pan who invented optogenetics first. Pan is a vision scientist at Wayne State University who was driven by a desire to cure blindness and came up with the germ of the idea of optogenics in the early 2000s. Boyden et al. and Pan worked on channelrhodopsin during similar time frame. However, Pan wasn’t able to receive much attention only because the editor at Nature Neuroscience published Boyden’s paper first.

Health Care Providers Scramble to Meet New Disaster Readiness Rule

An estimated 72,315 American health care providers and suppliers will have a little over a year to meet federal disaster preparedness requirements completed early September by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The new rule is aimed at preventing the severe breakdown in patient care that follows natural disasters while also strengthening the ability to provide services during other types of emergencies, such as pandemics and terrorist attacks. The rule is unusual in that it has provisions for 17 different provider types, including outpatient surgery site, physical therapy offices and home health agencies. While the vast majority of organizations have had to adhere to at least some emergency preparedness requirements for accreditation, others were not subject to any and it is expected to have a big impact on those facilities.

Don’t Worry about Orphan Drug Costs, Study Says. The Years of Fast Growth are Over

Researchers at IMS Health and Celgene state that a years-long upswell in orphan drug spending should slow down. The IMS Health and Celgene authors found that – when limited to rare disease indications – orphan drug spending grew to $30 billion in 2013 from $15 billion in 2007. However, the authors expect that growth to slow down for the 2014-2018 period.

St. Jude Sues Short-Seller Over Heart Device Allegations

St. Jude Medical Inc sued short-selling firm Muddy Waters and cybersecurity company MedSec Holdings Ltd, saying they intentionally disseminated false information about its heart devices to manipulate its stock. Muddy waters, run by Carson Block, said in late August that St. Jude’s pacemakers and defibrillators, which are used to regulate heart rhythm and treat cardiac arrest, had cybersecurity flaws that enabled them to be hacked and manipulated, with potentially fatal consequences. These accusations based on research from start-up cybersecurity company MedSec, knocked St. Jude’s shares back 10% on Aug.25. In the lawsuit, St. Jude stated that Block’s statements were defamatory and false.

Congressman Wants a Hearing on Cosmetics Safety

Politicians are putting pressure on the FDA to review and potentially revise existing regulations that govern the cosmetic industry to make sure products are safe. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr noted that there haven’t been substantial changes to policies regarding cosmetics since 1938, when the FDA was first charged with overseeing cosmetic safety. He says that the committee with jurisdiction over cosmetic regulation should examine the existing framework and determine that improvements are necessary. With the cosmetic industry raking in hundreds of billions of dollars per year, projected to reach $675 billion in revenue by 2020, it’s an important time for a review to ensure consumer safety.

FDA Warns Ovarian Cancer Tests Not Reliable

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned that screening tests for ovarian cancer are not reliable and should not be used. Despite extensive research and published studies, currently there are no accurate screening tests for ovarian cancer. However, numbers of companies have marketed tests that claim to screen for and detect ovarian cancer. But these tests may lead to delays in effective preventive treatments for high-risk women who have no symptoms, or result in unnecessary medical tests and/or surgery for those who do not have the disease.


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