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The Readout Damian Garde

Join Adam Feuerstein, Rebecca Robbins, and Matt Herper for a live, subscriber-only chat about the latest in the industry and the highlights from the ground in San Francisco. The chat will take place at 11 a.m. ET today, and you can sign up right here.

A people's history of J.P. Morgan

Like seemingly everyone even tangentially involved in biotech, we spent the week in San Francisco at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, the industry's largest annual gathering. And so we decided to make it the focus of this week's edition of STAT's biotech podcast, “The Readout LOUD.”

But the episode isn't about the thousands of bankers, analysts, entrepreneurs, and investors who gathered to strike deals, talk stocks, and set the agenda for the year ahead. Instead, we decided to present the story of J.P. Morgan through the eyes — and with the voices — of the Lyft drivers, bartenders, and hoteliers without whom biotech’s answer to Woodstock simply wouldn’t happen.

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.

Already, a 2020 spotlight on drug prices

There’s a long list of Democrats hinting at their desire to take on President Trump in 2020 — and they’ve wasted no time zeroing on drug prices.

Sen. Bernie Sanders made it the subject of his first press conference since the midterms. Sen. Amy Klobuchar introduced a trio of bills that even had some Republican support. Even Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker, who represent states with major biopharma concentrations, aren’t pulling their punches — Booker this week called high drug costs “a stain on the very idea of America,” and Warren blasted the industry for “raking in profits on the backs of patients.”

As STAT’s Lev Facher writes, the Democratic nomination race is shaping up as an arms race to determine who can introduce the splashiest bill on drug pricing — or criticize “Big Pharma” most harshly.

Read more.


Regeneron CEO to peers: Don't be 'dumb'

Drug pricing is complicated. But to Regeneron CEO Len Schleifer, one aspect of it is fairly simple. 

“If your philosophy is to price whatever the hell you can get away with and damn everybody, I think that’s a dumb approach and not particularly the most ethical approach,” Schleifer told STAT at J.P. Morgan this week.

The rest is pretty nuanced, though. Unlike most of his peers in the industry, Schleifer isn’t outright against government-imposed price controls on certain drugs, but he’d like to see “a carrot-and-stick system,” one that punishes profiteers but rewards “people who are truly innovative or truly responsible — ideally both.”

Read a transcript of the interview.

That went well


After slumping to a nadir on Christmas Eve, biotech stocks are resurgent in the new year, on pace for the sector’s best streak in more than three years, according to CNBC’s Bertha Coombs.

As the chart above illustrates, J.P. Morgan was kind to biotech, as a pair of major deals fed into a prevailing sense that everything was going to be OK after all for the multitrillion-dollar drug industry.

But it’s worth noting that, despite the reversal of fortune, the XBI biotech index is still below where it started 2017. And, regardless of all the optimism, however cautious, the ongoing government shutdown threatens to derail a bunch of important FDA decisions and a gaggle of hoped-for IPOs, suggesting the early year biotech boomlet could disappear as quickly as it arrived.

More reads

  • Louisiana proceeds with plans for a ‘Netflix’ subscription model for buying hepatitis C drugs. (STAT Plus)
  • After a bumper year, biotech flotations remain on the cards. (EP Vantage)
  • Drug pricing advocates to spend $1M on ads supporting Trump proposal. (STAT)
  • Novartis’ Aimovig fails to win NICE backing amid tight migraine fight with Lilly, Teva (FiercePharma)

Thanks for reading! Until next week,


Friday, January 11, 2019


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