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The Readout Damian Garde

Happy New Year. Here’s a cheat sheet

Since last we spoke, a whole new calendar year has begun. And if you’re still inching back to speed from the news deadzone that is the holiday week, we have just the thing.

STAT’s Adam Feuerstein put together all of the burning questions facing the biggest players in biotech, including whether Celgene can change the narrative, if Amgen is headed for a transformation, and, of course, whether Biogen can literally change the world. This should all come in handy as the annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference looms on the other side of the weekend, and you can read it all here.

Speaking of J.P. Morgan, if you’re going to San Francisco next week, consider spending some time with STAT. STAT Plus subscribers will have access to a reserved working space replete with snacks and private meeting rooms. There’s even a cocktail reception. You can register here.

Was that the bottom?


Biotech spent roughly the entire winter in a freefall, racing with the broader market to see which could better fluster investors and inspire financial news graphics departments. But then, coinciding with the shortest day of the year, biotech appeared to hit bottom.

Since Christmas, the XBI biotech index is up more than 9 percent. It was still down about 18 percent on the year and a full 30 percent from its late-August peak, but, for the first time in a month, it’s not getting worse. Even Moderna Therapeutics is up since Dec. 24.

What do you think? Is this the trough against which a future peak will be measured? Or is biotech a dead cat in the middle of that fabled bounce? Fill in the blank: In 2019, biotech ___ trade below its 2018 close.


How PhRMA got blindsided by a $12 billion bill

PhRMA, the drug industry trade group, employs some 180 lobbyists to get its message across in Washington and to ensure that it’s never caught flat-footed by developments in Congress. But last year, that system failed, and a surprise development is about to cost drug makers $12 billion over a decade.

As STAT’s Nicholas Florko reports, PhRMA was unprepared for a congressional plan to force the industry to pay a larger share of a Medicare beneficiaries prescription costs. And despite millions of dollars and months of lobbying, PhRMA was unable to turn the tide, perhaps a sign that the legendarily powerful group is losing influence in Washington.

“This might well be the biggest political loss that PhRMA has suffered in a decade,” Daniel Carpenter, a professor of government at Harvard, told STAT.

Read the inside account here.

While you were holidaying

The latter days of December are famously slow when it comes to news, but it wasn’t entirely a snooze. Here are a few biotech stories you may have missed.

  • Billionaire Phillip Frost is offering to pay $5.5 million to settle charges that he played a role in a $27 million penny-stock fraud. The proposed settlement wouldn’t amount to an admission or denial of guilt, and the SEC has until Feb. 9 to file an amended complaint, according to CNBC.
  • Peter Meldrum, co-founder of the game-changing testing firm Myriad Genetics, died Dec. 20. Meldrum, alongside Dr. Mark Skolnick, founded Myriad in 1992, building a multibillion-dollar company in the then-nascent field of genetic testing. He was 71.
  • Undaunted by recent returns, Gossamer Bio filed to raise about $265 million in an IPO. The company, led by former Receptos executives, is developing treatments for asthma, pulmonary arterial hypertension, and inflammatory bowel disease.

More reads

  • Moderna analysts plan reckoning after valuation declines. (Bloomberg)
  • How to cut U.S. drug prices: experts weigh in. (New York Times)
  • A dearth of physician innovators can derail new biomedical startups. (STAT)

Thanks for reading! Until tomorrow,


Wednesday, January 2, 2019


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