Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Readout by Damian Garde & Meghana Keshavan

Welcome to The Readout, where we keep you on top of the latest in biotech. For more in-depth coverage of biopharma, subscribe to STAT Plus. On Twitter: @damiangarde@megkesh, and @statnews.

What’s going on at Grail?

Grail, the colossally well-funded startup out to make liquid biopsy a reality, just lost another top executive.

Vikram Bajaj, Grail’s top scientist, left to join Foresite Capital. The move is entirely personal and says nothing about Grail’s science, Bajaj told STAT.

But it does come just three months after Grail replaced its CEO with no definite explanation, sparking more than a little curiosity about what's going on inside biotech's blood unicorn.

Read more on STAT Plus.

Who wins (and loses) if Amazon enters the Rx market?

As if feature films, cloud computing, and, like, shoelaces weren’t enough, Amazon’s now edging into the medication sphere — having obtained pharmacy licenses in at least a dozen states. So, what happens if the company makes the move to sell prescription drugs?

STAT’s Ed Silverman dives into the implications of Amazon’s pharma strategy, mapping out three possible scenarios. Some approaches could benefit consumers and hurt retailers and pharmacy benefit managers — while others could actually be a boon to the establishment. One of the biggest questions: Will Amazon contract out to PBMs, or become one?

Read more on STAT Plus.

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This gender parity stuff is getting depressing

Rock Health has delved into the fraught issue of gender parity in health care in a new report — and has come up with some glum findings. Nearly half of the women surveyed think it’ll take at least 25 years to get women’s equality in the workplace — and a stunning 16 percent wager it’ll never happen. 

There’s a slight rise in health care companies hiring women in leadership positions, with most working in human resources, legal services, and marketing. But it's still pretty slow progress.

Yet compared to other sectors, health care is actually slightly ahead in some respects: 

So that's a win?

When in doubt, blame the media

CytRx is a penny stock, one that has lost roughly 99 percent of its value in the past decade. And thus Wall Street sentiment, as you might assume, is not particularly sanguine.

But CEO Steve Kriegsman, speaking at a shareholder meeting last week, had an interesting theory as to why: "Investors like yourselves are consistently being duped by people like Adam Feuerstein."

That's from a recording of the meeting obtained by Feuerstein, who, as you might know, works for STAT. The recording prompted him to run through just why CytRx has fallen so hard in recent years — and how Kriegsman has been deeply enriched in the process.

Read more on STAT Plus.

More reads

  • Sanofi, Regeneron enlist HBO series 'The Night Of' creator to shine light on atopic dermatitis. (FiercePharma)
  • BIO lobbies for an orphan tax credit. (BioCentury)
  • Drugging the undruggable: the story of Kymera. (LifeSciVC)
  • Novartis to pay $3.9 billion for radio-pharmaceuticals firm. (Wall Street Journal)

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Thanks for reading! Until tomorrow,

Damian & Meghana

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