- Bombshell development in the wearables market as Nike bows out (well, of the hardware side, anyway), putting the brakes on future Fuelband iterations amid speculation that they're clearing the way for a collaboration with Apple.
- A trio large pharmas traded units amid continued emphasis on narrowly focused portfolios. Novartis bought a pair of GSK cancer drugs to complement its Gleevec franchise, and in turn sold its vaccines business to GSK while also selling its animal health division to Lilly.
- For all the payer gnashing of teeth over Gilead's pricey hep C drug Sovaldi, so far, it's not crimping sales. The brand crushed analysts expectations for $1.13 billion in sales by more than a billion. However, several medical societies are starting to factor costs into treatment guidelines or are threatening to, anyway.
- There's now a whole medical scribe staffing industry to help physicians feed their EHRs in patient consults.
- Is Facebook dipping a toe in the fitness tracking market with its latest purchase
- The comments period for FDA's first draft guidance on social media closed, and Klick Health has an overview of the comments. The sore spots are the definitions of editorial control and influence.
- Nine out of ten Americans are willing to share their health data with researchers, but for most, it's conditional, and data privacy is a concern.
- Apple is embracing digital advertising in a big way for the first time after pursuing a TV-centric advertising strategy for its entire existence. Wait, what? Who says pharma's an old fuddy-duddy of an industry, anyway.
- - See more at: http://healthandpharmainsight.tumblr.com/post/83842375761/in-case-you-missed-it#sthash.AjKFLjGO.dpuf
By Matthew Arnold, Principal Analyst
Seems a little unfair that the career epitaph for Kathleen Sebelius stint as HHS chief is doomed to be an HTTP 404 Error message on Healthcare.gov, but that's politics for you. However, her resignation comes amid some hopeful signs for the Affordable Care Act perhaps most notably, for pharmas, an ExpressScripts analysis of prescription claims data which found that, as of January and February, exchange enrollees were getting significantly more prescriptions filled for specialty drugs than were Americans with traditional employer-based insurance. Specialty drugs accounted for around 1.1% of exchange plan prescriptions, versus .75% for commercial health plans.
Those numbers may seem small, but that's a 47% difference. Of course, you can read that data a couple ways.
Pessimists might point out that this means the initial risk pool skews older, sicker and more expensive, and that's surely true, though it's not exactly news. The more bearish on Obamacare might note that small fluctuations in uptake of pricey specialty drugs can have a dramatic impact on healthcare spending, as specialty medications accounted for fewer than 1% of scripts last year but more than a quarter of overall spending. ExpressScripts, which has raised a red flag over the soaring price of some specialty drugs, like Gilead's Sovaldi, has forecast a 63% increase in spending on those drugs through 2016, driven by innovative Hepatitis C treatments.
But an optimist might say this means that exactly the people who most needed insurance coverage people with chronic illnesses that had previously been locked out or priced out of the insurance market are getting it, and that they're getting the drugs they need to keep them from getting sicker (and more expensive when they wind up in the ER).
The pessimists undoubtedly have a point, and there will be plenty of skirmishing between payers and pharmas over drug prices, formulary restrictions and co-pays for plan enrollees. But the risk pool is likely to improve for insurers as time goes on, and the very legitimate concerns about the cost of these medicines to the taxpayer must be weighed against the benefits to those patients that were previously untreated.