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Quick note: The Readout won't be publishing from Dec. 24 to Jan. 1. The newsletter will be back on Jan. 2!

What will become of biotech in 2019?

What's the legacy of Sarepta Therapeutics? And how do you say "overhyped" in Mandarin?

We discuss all that and more on the latest episode of “The Readout LOUD,” STAT’s biotech podcast. First, STAT's Ike Swetlitz joins us to discuss the IBM's latest travails with Watson Health, the purportedly revolutionary technology that has quickly become a cautionary tale. Then, we look forward to 2019 and the major biotech stories we'll be keeping an eye on throughout the year. Finally, Ed Kaye, CEO of Stoke Therapeutics, joins us to talk about his new company, relive his days at Sarepta, and, bravely, answer rapid-fire questions in a lightning round.

You can listen to the episode here. To listen to future episodes, be sure to sign up on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Happy New Year! Drugs are more expensive now

Come Jan. 1, roughly two-thirds of the world’s most expensive medicines are going to cost more than they did the day before.

That’s according to Bernstein analyst Ronny Gal, who has been surveying payers and expects prices to rise between 7 percent and 9 percent.

Start-of-the-year price hikes are business as usual for pharma, but 2019’s incarnation comes after a contentious year for the industry. Pharma treaded lightly when it came to pricing in 2018, when intensifying rhetoric from the Trump administration led many companies to forgo scheduled increases.

Now the industry is making up for lost time, according to Gal, who points out that “the breadth of the [2019] increases is about 20 percent higher than previous years.”

Read more.

Your sneak peek at the next buzzy biotech

Meet VL49, a code-named biotech startup operating in stealth with money from the industry's most bombastic venture firm and plans to put some buzzy technologies to use.

STAT's Kate Sheridan has the details on the company, which is graduating from a shared lab space and plans to triple its workforce by 2020. Flagship Pioneering, the firm that brought you Moderna Therapeutics and Rubius Therapeutics, is funding the fledgling company, which promises to use artificial intelligence in its efforts to craft new medicines.

Read more.

When will biotech bottom out?


The XBI biotech index has fallen more than 30 percent from the all-time high it hit in August. And, if biotech’s last major correction is a sign of things to come, the industry may have a ways to go yet.

Way back in 2015, the last time the XBI set a record, it took a full six months to hit bottom, falling almost 50 percent along the way. The headlines from back then will sound familiar (drug prices and political uncertainty were issues then, too) and the malaise stretched through a rainy J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference.

The good news is things got better. The bad news is it took more than two years.

More reads

  • Tiny populations up the ante for gene therapy pricing. (EP Vantage)
  • IPO activity next year could dampen if markets do not rebound. (Reuters)
  • Relay Therapeutics raises $400 million in venture capital funding. (STAT Plus)

Thanks for reading! Until next year,


Friday, December 21, 2018


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