#JPM15 Day 1 Buzz: Merck, Biogen & Bristol feeling good (plus the ‘other’ JP Morgan grows)

Who was feeling particularly good end of day Monday? Biogen Idec: First the acquisition of Convergence Pharmaceuticals on Sunday and then a pretty strong presentation in the main ballroom, touting a deeper and more diverse pipeline, packed with drugs that will get high reimbursement. Bristol-Myers Squibb and Merck for their lung cancer announcements. Who was […]

Who was feeling particularly good end of day Monday?

Who was feeling sad on Monday? There’s a detailed piece out of the Boston Globe about Partners Healthcare posting its first financial loss in 15 years.

The $22 million operating loss, driven by sharp reversals at Partners’ two-year-old Medicaid health insurance business, may turn out to be a temporary blip. But there are signs that some rating agencies may be turning less bullish on the renowned Boston-based health care giant – which runs Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s hospitals and eight others – as it puts $585 million worth of bonds up for sale next week to finance capital needs ranging from building projects to a new information system.

Who was feeling feisty on Monday? Some notable  slights from the podium between drugmakers and partners. BioMarin Pharmaceuticals called out rival muscular dystrophy drugmaker Sarpeta by comparing BioMarin’s drug’s effectiveness compared to Sarepta’s (Sarpeta presents Thursday). Meanwhile, Sanofi’s presentation was interpreted to downplay MannKind’s inhalable insulin product.

What to look for on Tuesday?

Emerging markets track kicks off and NIH Director Francis Collins closes the day out with a keynote. On the social front, athenahealth will have its annual soiree that night.

Some random commentary

It’s not hard to find someone who will tell you they’ve come to the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference for a decade but have never been inside the actual event. Even so, what happened inside the Westin St. Francis was what set the agenda for the week.

I’m still a relative rookie (this is my fourth JPM). But it’s pretty clear that now more than ever the “other” JP Morgan conference of receptions, power lunches and the growing number of side events are beginning to make the JP Morgan conference event less the sun that we all orbit this week in San Francisco.

Instead, JP Morgan is just the plurality of what’s going on in what’s now a Healthcare Investor Weekend.

The buzz from all those other receptions and side conferences is a bit harder to track. Many of the events are high-school-reunion-style drink-ups and the biggest gossip will be how crudely people devoured the Latham & Watkins oyster-and-jumbo-shrimp raw bar. Others have more harder sells (several of the health tech events were company-matchmaking-disguised-as-partying, for example).

Notable happy talk.

It’s all upside for the digital health crowd.

Other Monday news related to JP Morgan Week

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Photo from Flickr user Wally Gobetz