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The Readout Damian Garde

J.P. Morgan is (basically) over. Want to talk about it? Join Adam Feuerstein, Rebecca Robbins, and Matt Herper for a live, subscriber-only chat about the latest in the industry and the highlights from the ground in San Francisco. The chat will take place at 11 a.m. ET Friday; you can submit your questions in advance here.

China was big at JPM

The latest sign of the rise of China's biopharma sector? Chinese companies had a noticeably more visible presence at JPM. In San Francisco, that's meant greater availability for investor meetings and lots of events, often competing with one another.

And what say the U.S. executives and investors who spent the week soaking up the China biotech pitch? They're optimistic — but also wary of a sector that's had to contend with some scandal and disappointment, STAT's Rebecca Robbins reports.

Read more.

The view from the bottom

Spending thousands on overpriced hotel rooms or meeting spaces might seem tangential to the business of building a new company. Obviously, it wasn’t this week.

As some executives leading biotech’s newest startups told STAT, this week’s conference gave their companies an unmissable opportunity to get some attention, take the pulse of the industry, and size up potential partners and investors.

For these companies, the conference can be the best in-person introduction to biotech society. But as one CEO told STAT’s Kate Sheridan, a lot of the work done at JPM could still be accomplished in other ways. “If I had a startup company with a few million dollars in the bank, I don’t think I’d be coming to J.P. Morgan,” he said.

Read more.

Instead of elusive Alzheimer's drugs, perhaps a robotic cat? 

Hundreds of miles from the big biopharma confab in San Francisco this week, digital health companies were having their own shindig at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas, and talking a bit of smack about their drug-making cousins.

"Who will rescue Alzheimer's if Pharma can't?" was the provocative name of one panel yesterday, and the presenters delivered a pointed message: Families can't wait any longer for a miracle molecule to treat the disease, so the tech industry is working on solutions to help patients and caregivers. STAT's Casey Ross was there and reports that one company is developing a therapy that uses music and images to help patients recover memories, while another is building robotic cats and dogs to treat depression and social isolation. 

Former Insys CEO pleads guilty in kickback scheme

The former chief executive of Insys Therapeutics is now a government witness.

Michael Babich, who resigned as the drug maker’s CEO in 2015, agreed to testify on behalf of federal prosecutors after pleading guilty yesterday to conspiracy and mail fraud charges, Reuters reports. Babich is among the former Insys executives who were accused of taking part in a nationwide conspiracy to bribe doctors to unnecessarily prescribe Subsys, a fentanyl-based painkiller.

Babich faced up to 25 years in prison but could receive a more lenient sentence if he continues to cooperate as a witness. Prosecutors now turn their attention to the case of Insys founder and former chairman John Kapoor, who is scheduled to face trial in the coming weeks.

More reads

  • Shutdown has Aimmune waiting on FDA on multiple fronts. (STAT Plus)
  • Why big tech wants access to your medical records. (Wall Street Journal)
  • CardioDx, maker of heart disease test, shutting down as Medicare rescinds coverage. (San Francisco Chronicle
  • Regeneron's top scientist: 'It's us against the world.' (Endpoints)

Thanks for reading! Until tomorrow,


Thursday, January 10, 2019


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