- 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- The comments period for FDA's first draft guidance on social media closed, and Klick Health has an overview of the comments.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
If you missed last week's Times Magazine piece on the emerging field of bioelectronics and GSK's (modest) bet on it, you should go read it because it's a great read, full of whiz-bang sci-fi-sounding stuff that will make you feel excited about the future of medicine again. The short version is that there's this startup called SetPoint that's working on using electrical stimulation to talk to the nervous system to tell it, in RA patients, to shut down production of inflammation-causing TNF, for example. Early results from clinical trials on humans are looking promising.
Bioelectronics is new enough that most large pharma analysts on Wall Street probably haven't heard of it, but it's got an influential proponent in GSK R&D chief Moncef Slaoui:
As Slaoui saw it, SetPoint's stimulator was a primitive forerunner to a device that reads your electrical impulses and sees when something is wrong, then corrects what needs correcting.
In 2006, Slaoui continued, when I became chairman of R. & D., R. & D. was a liability to this company. We were spending lots of money and not producing new molecules for new medicines. I had to acknowledge that the current way of doing R. & D. wasn't likely to be successful.
Pharma's been in a strange place for the past decade or so, seemingly stuck in the trough of the innovation cycle, with pipelines failing to replenish the revenues lost as yesterday's blockbusters move off-patent. The industry keeps shrinking, and you hear people moan about how all the low-hanging fruit has been picked. And yet, most large pharmas are sitting on huge stockpiles of cash, and they're placing bets on some intriguing technology. The reporter told a Times blog that GSK's interest was what piqued his curiosity:
Big Pharma is very conservative in business, in technology. They have to be. It is the nature of their business. To see them take an interest in a very science-fictiony or way-out project made me think, Huh, there is more to this than I know.
GSK has posted some clips of Slaoui and Kris Famm, head of the company's bioelectronics R&D unit, talking about the therapy on their More Than Medicine blog.