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The Readout Damian Garde & Meghana Keshavan

Gilead: Acquire, or get acquired?

For some time now, investors have been watching and waiting to see which biotechs, if any, Gilead Sciences might acquire. Indeed, when CEO Dan O'Day popped into the STAT Summit in Cambridge in November, he acknowledged the company, which is sitting on a ton of cash, might be in an "acquisitive mode."

Lately, though, another question has arisen among investors: Might Gilead itself be a takeover target? That chatter and a suggestion by Jefferies analyst Michael Yee sent Gilead's stock shooting higher late last week.

A health care investor, asked his view on the matter by STAT's Adam Feuerstein, said talk of an acquisition was preposterous. But that doesn't mean it doesn't tell us something about investor views on Gilead these days.

Read more.

New drugs to watch in 2020

Most drug makers hope to develop a blockbuster or two. Which lucky manufacturers will hit the coveted $1 billion mark with their new drugs?

BioWorld, along with Clarivate Analytics, are out with a new report today highlighting 11 new drugs slated to reach the market this year that might reach blockbuster status by 2024. 

The report highlights Biomarin’s hemophilia A gene therapy, Valrox, as a contender, along with Rybelsus — a “holy grail” oral semaglutide drug for diabetes. Celgene’s CAR-T lymphoma drug Liso-cel, developed by Juno Therapeutics, also makes the cut. 

Most health startups fail. Why?

The attrition rate for startups is high. That’s especially true for fledgling health-adjacent companies, according to the folks over at MedTech Innovator, a global competition and accelerator in this sector. They outline 10 reasons in a new First Opinion for STAT.

Among the reasons: Picking the wrong CEO, or staying in stealth mode too long — a trend often seen among biotechs in particular. 

Direct-to-consumer models also end up complicating matters for startups. Most consumers, outside of a smattering of early adopters, will be reticent to pay for anything out-of-pocket — so consumer health startups switch directions and opt for the regulated route. But many are invariably too late — and run out of cash before insurers get involved.

Read more.

Straight pricing talk from Democratic contenders

There’s a consensus among the Democratic presidential candidates that policymakers ought to step in more aggressively to lower drug prices. Beyond that, however, there are subtle but meaningful differences in their viewpoints. 

STAT’s Andrew Joseph sat in on the Boston Globe editorial board's interviews with seven of the candidates — including Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and Pete Buttigieg. He asked tough questions, such as whether the candidates might be able to accept fewer drugs being invented. 

“…drug companies are profiteering at record levels,” Andrew Yang told STAT. “If they argue, hey, if our profits are less, we’re going to have less in innovation — it’s not plausible.”

Read more.

More reads

  • Cancer-neuronal crosstalk and the startups working to silence it. (Nature Biotechnology)
  • Novo Nordisk investing $117.4M in manufacturing site in Denmark. (FiercePharma)

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,

Damian

Monday, February 10, 2020

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