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The Readout Damian Garde & Meghana Keshavan

Don't forget to check out the newest STAT Report: Biosimilars: What will it take to deliver on their promise?

Who has left the largest impact on biotechnology?

Let's say the powers that be of biotechnology had a giant mountain. And let's say they wanted to commemorate the greatest of all time in the granite. Who'd make it onto the industry's Mount Rushmore?

STAT’s Adam Feuerstein has some ideas.

Two faces that clearly should be set in stone: Genentech’s Art Levinson and Genzyme’s Henri Termeer. Without these two, Kendall Square wouldn’t be the biotech hotbed that it is today. But who else makes the cut? 

Read more.

Expect talk of drug prices in the State of the Union

Most of President Trump’s State of the Union address this evening won’t exactly delight Democratic lawmakers — but the portion on drug pricing actually might. As Democrats argued to STAT’s Lev Facher and Nick Florko, Trump’s widely expected mention of high pharmaceutical costs will highlight how unsuccessful the White House has been to rein them in. 

That's not a view shared by the White House, of course. But Democrats have publicly — and repeatedly — proclaimed their commitment to taking more steps to lower prices and asserted that the steps the administration has taken simply haven't gotten the job done.

“The president hasn’t done a damn thing on drug prices,” one congresswoman told STAT. “Maybe I should fall on my knees and offer a novena.” 

Read more.

Andreessen Horowitz is all about the bio

Marc Andreessen has done an about-face on health care. A decade back, the famed Silicon Valley VC proclaimed his firm would never invest in the life sciences — but now, Andreessen Horowitz is launching its third fund  dedicated to health and biology, STAT’s Erin Brodwin writes

Biofund III, as it’s called, will direct its $750 million toward startups that run the medical gamut — from better drug design to health care delivery tech. The common thread among these investments will be how biology melds with technology, because the two are becoming increasingly intertwined. 

Read more.

Coulda, woulda, shoulda: How Medicare could have saved $4.4B

There’s an ongoing debate over whether Medicare should begin negotiating the prices the program pays for medications; a new JAMA analysis underscores how significant it could be were negotiations to come to pass. 

According to the study, Medicare might have saved $4.4 billion in 2017 on insulin had it used the same drug pricing negotiation tactics as the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

“Having a strategy of negotiations would really maximize the ability of the federal government to save money,” the study’s co-author told STAT’s Ed Silverman. 

Read more.

A call for increased investment in oft-forgotten bugs

All eyes are on the new coronavirus outbreak, and scientists are rushing to discover means to contain it. But, quietly, more well-known pathogens are wreaking havoc without nearly enough attention being given to them: Tuberculosis, diarrheal illness, malaria, and pneumonia kill thousands each and every day, writes Dr. Nick Chapman, CEO of the think tank Policy Cures Research. 

There still isn’t enough investment in these diseases — though Chapman points out that this might change. His organization put out a survey of 200 funders, and found that for the first time, investment in neglected disease R&D has grown three years in a row, with funding reaching a record high of $4 billion. 

But there won’t be any meaningful improvement in treatment of these overlooked diseases unless funding continues over the next decade — and begins to come from a greater variety of funders, he writes. 

Read more.

More reads

  • Gilead drug to undergo human trials in China to cure coronavirus. (Bloomberg)
  • Striving for higher res imaging of cells, Harvard team debuts startup with backing from ARCH, Northpond. (Endpoints)

Thanks for reading! Until tomorrow,

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

STAT

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