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The Readout Damian Garde

Are we running out of ideas in oncology?

Is pharma in for a swarm of subpoenas?  And can a drug possibly be worth $4 million a dose?

We discuss all that and more on the latest episode of “The Readout LOUD,” STAT’s biotech podcast. First, STAT Washington correspondent Lev Facher joins us to recap the midterms, going over what the new Congress has in store for drug prices, victories for anti-pharma crusaders, and the end of former Celgene CEO Bob Hugin's campaign for Senate. Then, on the eve of a major cancer conference, we'll dig into how the seemingly bright future for combining immuno-oncology drugs has led to surprising disappointment. Finally, a new gene therapy from Novartis has showed dramatic effects on a rare and deadly disease. The company says it would be cost-effective with a $4 million price tag, and not everyone agrees.

You can listen to the episode here. And you can expect another episode next Thursday evening — and every Thursday evening — so be sure to sign up on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcasts.

We hear there’s a lot going on out west

And so we’re launching a new weekly newsletter to keep you updated on the biggest, most interesting stories in health and medicine happening in places like Silicon Valley, San Francisco's Mission Bay neighborhood, Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

It’s called Go West, and it arrives in inboxes each Wednesday morning care of Rebecca Robbins, STAT’s San Francisco correspondent. In it you’ll find original reporting and a roundup of headlines, as well as newsworthy clinical trials, job postings, and upcoming events to keep an eye on.

If you’re interested in signing up, you can do so right here. Look for the first edition on Nov. 14.

Amarin’s moment of truth

Shares of the biotech company Amarin are up almost tenfold since September, when the company said that its modest-selling cardiovascular drug led to major long-term improvements in patient health.

But that was based on a few figures in a press release. This weekend, we’ll find out all the gritty details, which will determine whether Amarin’s pill is really a major advance in cardiovascular care or whether there’s a sizable asterisk lurking somewhere in the data.

On Saturday, the company will present the full results of its study at the American Heart Association’s annual gathering in Chicago. If the results hold up, one of the year’s most surprising stories in biotech will only get better. If not, Amarin’s $6.6 billion market cap might not make it through Monday.

Stay tuned to STAT for the news once it happens.

Biotech's red-hot chili pepper IPO

Biotech's once-verdant IPO market has recently showed signs of decay, with the last two big debuts failing to pop the way their investors surely hoped. And next week brings us another chance to test the waters.

Centrexion, led by former Pfizer CEO Jeff Kindler, is looking to raise $92 million in an IPO next week. That'll help it push forward a pipeline of treatments for pain, the most advanced of which takes its inspiration from the science behind capsaicin, the chemical that makes peppers spicy.

The company is expected to price somewhere between $14 and $16 per share. If Centrexion hits the end of that range and then trades up, it'll help emboldened other IPO hopefuls. If, like its recent predecessors, the company takes a valuation haircut and then struggles on Day One, biotech's narrative going into the winter is unlikely to improve.

More reads

  • Elijah Cummings has a gavel to take on pharma (STAT)
  • AstraZeneca sees years of growth as drug sales turn corner. (Reuters)
  • Chat: The midterms are over. What’s next for health and medicine? (STAT Plus)
  • Political gridlock could be good for biopharma. (EP Vantage)

Thanks for reading! Until next week,


Friday, November 9, 2018


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