Author: Stephanie Baum

The CEO, reporter, and short seller: The story behind the MiMedx viral video at JPM18

The 1950 Akira Kurosawa film Rashomon broke new ground with a plot device illustrating that one shared experience could produce different perspectives by the participants. To some extent that is also true of the now viral video on Periscope of short seller Marc Cohodes confronting the management team of regenerative medicine business MiMedx at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference. But in this case, it is also true of some of the viewers. In interviews with STAT Senior Writer Adam Feuerstein, who recorded the confrontation, Cohodes, and MiMedx CEO Parker “Pete” Petit, it becomes clear they each perceive the event differently. The...

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J.P. Morgan’s head of life sciences for commercial banking shares biopharma industry insights for 2018 (Q&A)

The biopharma sector has had quite a year. Under FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, the regulator approved a record number of drugs and helped usher in innovative gene therapy treatments. Behavioral health drugs also marked a milestone with the approval of Otsuka Pharmaceutical’s Abilify MyCite, embedded with a sensor developed by Proteus Digital Health to remotely monitor medication adherence for people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorders. The convergence of biopharma and digital health technology is a trend that’s poised to accelerate in 2018. Peter Meath, Managing Director and Head of Life Sciences for J.P. Morgan’s Commercial Banking business, shared his...

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An employer benefits adviser has launched a genomic testing advisory business

Health plans are increasingly willing to cover genetic tests and genetic testing companies such as 23andMe and Color Genomics are pitching to employers. Given the interest in these tests, it’s maybe not so surprising that employer benefits adviser Tom Wamberg has launched a business advising self-insured companies and insurance brokers about genomic testing through Wamberg Genomic Advisors. The goal of the La Jolla, California-based company, is to make genomic testing readily accessible and affordable for everyone, Wamberg said in an emailed statement. “The most promising avenues for widespread delivery of genomic testing are employee benefit programs and life insurance policies.” The price of genomic sequencing has also come down considerably to $1,000. The idea is to advise companies which tests they should offer based on their resources and healthcare saving goals. Among the tests it offers guidance for are: Whole genome sequencing and reporting; Exome sequencing and reporting; Cancer genomic profiling; Liquid biopsies; Stem cell banking Some of the questions Wamberg tends to get are on the topic of who covers the cost of the genomic tests, he said in emailed responses to questions. “Some employers are considering paying for it in full for the employees, others are considering it as a voluntary benefit.” They also want to know how, if at all, these tests can reduce their healthcare costs and whether their competitors offer them. Wamberg added that consumer interest...

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Report: Alphabet venture arm GV, Khosla Ventures claim top spots in healthcare investment ranks

Healthcare investments hit $3.8 billion in the second quarter of 2017, marking a spike in these deals and a milestone for the healthcare industry in general, according to StartUp Health’s half year report. The trend of fewer deals but with larger rounds continued, the report noted, with $6.5 billion raised for 306 deals. Examples included healthcare education and advertising business Outcome Health ($600 million) and Guardant Health ($360 million). StartUp Health’s reports have highlighted a growing number of life science companies among the digital health businesses it spotlights. The argument for inclusion is that businesses like Freenome have a substantial software component even if the core business is diagnostics or drug development. Two investors that embrace this hybrid approach to healthcare investment also topped the category for investment volume — Alphabet’s investment arm, GV,  and Khosla Ventures with seven deals apiece. GV led or took part in healthcare investments from Series A to C with investments in Aledade to ZappRx. Aledade’s  software is designed to support accountable care organizations. Cofounded by Farzad Mostashari, a former National Coordinator for Health IT, the business closed a $20 million Series B round with participation from GV.  The investor also led a $25 million round for a health IT business ZappRx, which is trying to make it easier for providers to expedite specialty prescription orders. Clover Health, a care coordination business that provides Medicare Advantage...

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