Industry Briefs June 2017


Tobacco Deaths are Responsible in Poor U.S. Health Ranking

According to the report, Tobacco in America: Leaving the Vulnerable Behind, released by Action on Smoking and Health (ASA), “…tobacco remains the number #1 cause of preventable death in America, accounting for 1 in 5 deaths, and costs the U.S. economy more than $300 billion per year.” This study notes that while today only 15% of U.S. adults smoke, far less than the 50% seen in the 1960s, vast disparity within education, ethnicity, and neighborhood still exists and the city of Washington D.C. provides an example of such disparity. With tobacco’s continued adverse health effects, the U.S. is ranked 43rd in health globally, even though it spends more on healthcare than any other country.

SeedInvest Injects HelloMD with Cash Infusion

HelloMD, a digital platform specializing in medical cannabis—and dubbed the Amazon of Cannabis—recently received $200,000 from SeedInvest, a crowdfunding platform that connects pre-vetted accessible startup investments with potential investors. This money comes in addition to the $900,000 invested by more than 600 investors acquired by HelloMD when they joined SeedInvest in May. HelloMD started operating in California two years ago. Since then, they’ve bridged doctors and patients online, provided brand and retail information, and showcased a large section of Q&As and cannabis informational videos.

Bayer Recovering From Ransomware Attack

The WannaCry cyber security breach you heard about in May reached at least two Bayer medical devices in the U.S. A Bayer radiology system displayed the ransom message, making it the first time medical technology has ever been directly hit by ransomware. While the device was fixed within 24 hours, the security patches needed for the Microsoft Windows operating system as a long-term solution will be some time coming. But device manufacturers are stepping up to help expedite preventive measures in the healthcare arena. In the meantime, hospitals can use firewalls to block access to certain network ports or disconnect affected devices from the network until a patch or other fix is installed.

Social Media For Doctors Reviewing Drugs

Just as Amazon reviewers help us make better purchases or Yelp reviewers help us pick the right restaurant, SERMO wants to help doctors pick the right prescription medication for their patients. Found on SERMO’s network, Drug Ratings is the first peer-to peer review system exclusively for verified licensed physicians. The breakthrough technology can help doctors find a suitable drug when a patient’s insurance does not cover the one he/she prescribes, or make available thousands of professional opinions when searching for an entirely new drug.

Drug Ratings gives physicians a clinical decision support tool where they can research, rate, and share their direct experience on the efficacy, safety, tolerability, accessibility, and adherence of specific drugs in real time—and many are seeing this as just the tool they need to keep up with the rapid output of new pharmaceuticals.

Gottlieb Considers Lowering Generic Pricing

The prices of generic drugs may be going down under FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who recently announced he hopes to bring more competition to the U.S. market. Gottlieb was appointed by the U.S. Senate in May to head the FDA. According to Gottlieb, “The most significant savings to consumers comes when there are three generics on the market.” An FDA analysis shows that the first generic drug on the market does little to lower cost from the brand price; the second generic, however, cuts the cost by a half, with further generics lowering cost by 20%.

Additionally, to enable business, the FDA is contemplating publishing the list of 180 branded drugs currently without patent protection and available for generic competition. Gottlieb is seeking to expedite the approval of complex generic drugs, specifically those with a built-in delivery system. Public hearings discussing these topics are anticipated.

Outcome Health Raises Financing at $5 Billion Valuation

Outcome Health announced a financing round valuing the company at $5 billion pre-money, to expand its impact from 20% to 70% of all U.S. physician practices by 2020. The investment also positions the company for growth across emerging opportunities such as clinical trials, payers, pharmacies, and international markets. Investors include Goldman Sachs Investment Partners, Alphabet’s growth equity investment fund CapitalG, Leerink Transformation Partners, Pritzker Group Venture Capital, Balyasny Asset Management, among many others, as well as strategic health systems and healthcare stakeholders aligned with the company’s mission.

Alzheimer’s Foundation and Science Exchange Team Up

The Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation has partnered with Science Exchange to launch ADDF ACCESS, an online platform designed to match scientists working on central nervous system diseases with a network of contract research organizations. Scientists in both academia and small biotech companies can access a huge market of outsourced research and development, with Alzheimer’s drug discovery knowledge.

“Drug discovery requires a wide range of expertise, from medicinal chemistry and pharmacology to project management and regulatory affairs,” said Lauren Friedman, PhD, ADDF ACCESS Program Director. “Researchers don’t always have the interdisciplinary teams needed to develop a drug. We created the new ACCESS website with Science Exchange to connect researchers with high-quality CROs and provide guidance and resources to help successfully advance their drug programs.” Eliminating the timely process of finding and negotiating with CROs will help scientists focus on making strides in Alzheimer’s research.


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