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The Readout Damian Garde

Programming note: We're away for President's Day but back on Tuesday, Feb. 19. 

What can pharma learn from ketamine?

Is liver disease more complicated than anyone thought? And does AI actually have a place in medicine?

We discuss all that and more on the latest episode of “The Readout LOUD,” STAT’s biotech podcast. First, our colleague Matthew Herper joins us to pick apart Gilead Sciences’ recent failure in the pervasive liver disease NASH. Then, STAT’s Megan Thielking stops by to talk about what could be the first novel treatment for depression in more than three decades, a ketamine-related drug from Johnson & Johnson. Later we hear from Dr. Eric Topol, a cardiologist and geneticist at the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, about the chasm between hype and reality when it comes to AI in medicine.

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.

Separating sound bites from solutions when it comes to drug pricing

A winning idea for political candidates is to, one, declare that drugs are too expensive, and, two, say that you’re going to make them cheaper. But what might all these recently elected legislators actually _do_?

President Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have made clear that the cost of prescription drugs is among their top priorities, but with a fiercely resistant pharmaceutical lobby, an unpredictable White House, and split control of Congress, it’s unclear which proposals might actually have a shot.

Join Lev Facher and Nicholos Florko, two of STAT’s Washington correspondents, for a deep dive into the ideas, feasible and otherwise, bouncing around the halls of government in 2019. That dive will take the form of a webinar, replete with charts and figures and the like. And that webinar will take place on Feb. 27. You can sign up right here.

A look at biotech’s IPO class of ’19


It is, by any measure, way too early to draw conclusions about how biotech IPOs will fare in 2019. Just four companies have gone public so far this year, and, because the federal government was shut down for most of January, they’ve only traded for a handful of days.

But let’s draw some conclusions anyway. On average, things are going well: Those four companies are up about 5 percent as a group and just over 1 percent at the median. When you consider that the average 2018 IPO is down 3 percent, and the median one is in the hole 24 percent, that looks pretty good.

And speaking of NASH

In light of all the discussion around Gilead Sciences and its failed trial in NASH, yesterday we asked readers: Does that failure make the next big NASH trial, from Intercept Pharmaceuticals, less likely to succeed?

About 64 percent said no, Intercept’s drug — which takes a different biological approach to treating the disease — will succeed or fail on its own merits, regardless of Gilead’s work. But the other 36 percent believe Intercept’s odds are now that much lower.

We’ll find out in the next month or so, as Intercept has promised to disclose the results of its study by the end of the quarter.

More reads

  • Drug company raises price of pain reliever by 70 percent. (Axios)
  • Draft federal spending deal includes largest boost for FDA in five years. (STAT Plus)
  • Teva's CEO is running out of rope. (Calcalist)

Thanks for reading! Have a nice weekend,


Friday, February 15, 2019


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