Morning Read: A big month for Aetna’s acquisition hopes

Also, learn about an increasingly higher profile for MedCity CONVERGE alum Dr. Vivian S. Lee.


Bruce Japsen’s Forbes article is a must-read for anyone with a stake in the Aetna-Humana-Cigna acquisitions. Payers and providers are reloading with lobbyists and political clout ahead of the first Capitol Hill hearings on the acquisitions. Opponents will try and use the strategy that thwarted the Comcast-Time Warner deal. Payers, meanwhile, have Marilyn Tavenner on their side. Forbes

Dr. Vivian Lee’s impressive reinvention of healthcare in Utah is paying off in both results and attention (you heard about it earlier at 2014 MedCity CONVERGE).

The linchpin of this effort at the University of Utah Health Care is a computer program — still a work in progress — with 200 million rows of costs for items like drugs, medical devices, a doctor’s time in the operating room, and each member of the staff’s time. The software also tracks such outcomes as days in the hospital and readmissions. A pulldown menu compares each doctor’s costs and outcomes with others’ in the department.

Harvard’s Michael Porter called the program “epic progress.” – The New York Times

The headline says it all: “Government Regulation of Commercial Speech: is Amarin Pharma’s Breakout Moment?” This is a big deal. – Bill of Rights


Remember a few years back when everyone talked about going to Europe first because the FDA was so difficult?

While a number countries have pledged in recent years to encourage the use of innovative medicines, Europe remains a much tougher market than the United States, prompting many companies to offer significant price discounts.

– Reuters

Cerecor isn’t standing still. The IPO-bound company has launched a study of an antidepressant treatment. – Baltimore Sun

Spanish biopharma Sinifit has raised $41 million to advance its End Stage Renal Disease treatment. – PE Hub

The new Silversmith Capital Partners has closed a $460 million fund – and mentions a focus on healthcare. – Fortune

MIT published a new look at Stemcentrx – or at least a look at why Peter Thiel invested in Stemcentrx. – MIT Technology Review

Good news for Bristol-Myers Squibb. A study shows Opdivo and Yervoy combined can treat some lung cancer patients. – Reuters

Welcome to Scotland Avastin, Signifor, Velcade, Harvoni, Eylea, Januvia and Elvanse Adult. – PharmaTimes

Can drugs be biodegradable and effective? “While the concentrations of such pollutants are fairly low, they are high enough to cause concern, and recent research shows advanced treatment of effluent may not go far enough to solve the problem in a sustainable way.” – Medical News Today

The shingles vaccine is effective and available for those 50 and older. But new research suggests it may not be cost-effective for people until they are 60. – Reuters

Trumenba and Bexsero will benefit from a new push on college campuses to get the Meningitis B vaccine. – Wall Street Journal


Can doctors unlearn racial bias? “Places like the University of Texas Medical School at Houston, the University of Massachusetts, and the University of California, San Francisco now include formal lessons on unconscious bias as part of the curriculum.” – CNN

An important snake-bite treatment is running out. – BBC

Plague cases are up: from the typical three a year to 13 in the last five months. – The New York Times


Fitness trackers are a commodity. And they are not good at what they say they do. The end. – TechCrunch

What should you expect at Apple iPhone6s event this week: Nothing about health. – Re/code

Fitness finder SportsSetter got $1 million to expand into the United Kingdom. – TechCrunch


Britain’s data-collection program is on hold – again. – Digital Health Intelligence

Obamacare is secretly undermining Planning Parenthood? – Reuters

A plan to merge a California child-health program into Medi-Cal managed care has been posponted until 2017. – Kaiser Health News


Investors in the public market, brace for a tough Tuesday. “Death crosses” are everywhere. – The Street