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Morning Read: Sean Parker bets big on cancer treatment

Also, Teva talks drug prices; security wonks talk medical device hacks, and ugly talk at the Anthem-Aetna hearings.


Remember Sean Parker, the co-founder of Napster who went on to be founding president of Facebook and then the investor who brought Spotify to the U.S.? He’s now putting his considerable wealth into immuno-oncology, and apparently doing it without his usual “disruptive” style.

The normally brash Parker — the one played by Justin Timberlake in “The Social Network” — has, according to FierceBiotech’s Damian Garde, been doing his homework on T cells and is ready to put his money where his mouth once was. “My role is not to be a disrupter but to be a consistent, long-term funder,” Parker said alongside two Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center researchers, discussing the “new face of cancer.”

It’s unclear how much Parker is putting into immuno-oncology right now, but he did commit $24 million to allergy research at Stanford University late last year. Suffice it to say he’s not throwing away money on parties and self-promotion the way the Parker character did in the 2010 movie. — FierceBiotech


Teva’s research chief said the drug-pricing outcry should remind drugmakers what the healthcare industry can tolerate. “The receptivity of the American public to this indicates that this is an issue, and Teva has to pay attention to it just like other pharma,” said Michael Hayden. – Reuters

Astellas and Chromocell have agreed to a deal to develop nerve pain drugs worth $515 million. – FierceBiotech

The biopharma sector has been battered of late by public blowback from huge price hikes and from general market weakness, but many companies are still doing very well. Amgen is not one, and that creates a prime investment opportunity. — Bidness Etc

New supercomputing software that scans for weak spots in fibrils may help unlock the mystery of all kinds of diseases, from Alzheimer’s to diabetes. — Science Daily

Might overuse of antibiotics be one reason for the growing number of people with allergies? IFLScience

Researchers at UC-San Francisco ran a successful proof-of-principle study on a DNA-based blood test that can detect Ebola and other infectious diseases in the field. — Science Daily

Vaccine maker Novavax, of Gaithersburg, Maryland, has received a Gates Foundation grant worth as much as $89 million to support Phase III clinical trials of a respiratory syncytial virus vaccine for pregnant women. — Washington Business Journal


Board-payment scrutiny shifts to academic leaders on healthcare board.

In an age where even relatively small, one-time payments from pharmaceutical companies to doctors have come under intense scrutiny because they may skew prescribing practices or research, the study reveals that some of the most well-paid and influential leaders in medicine are sitting on the boards of publicly traded health-care companies, where they are richly compensated.

The Washington Post, Medical News Today

Watch how the discussion of charity care develops nationally, how healthcare spins it and how policymakers react: In Minnesota, charity care has dropped 22 percent and they’re relating it to Obamacare. – Star Tribune

Mercy Health-Cincinnati is actually saving money in the form of lower turnover and fewer overtime hours since it raised nurse salaries. — Cincinnati Business Courier

The Catholic HealthCare Partnership has accused Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey of religious discrimination, alleging that the insurer “schemed in secret” to keep Catholic hospitals in the state out of a value-based network. —

The Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and the Cleveland Clinic have received an $8 million grant for a new educational center and support of curriculum for wellness and preventive care. — Cleveland Jewish News


Health IT vendors, not “paternalistic” physicians, might be the real barriers to patient control of their health data. — iMedicalApps

More details on the vulnerability of medical devices to hacking.

Some systems were connected to the Internet by design, others due to configuration errors. And much of the medical gear was still using the default logins and passwords provided by manufacturers.


Nashville, Tenn.-based HealthStream has created a new company, Echo, out of its HealthLine Systems and SyMed Development businesses, to support physician and payer credentialing and provider enrollment in insurance networks. — HealthStream

PinpointCare, a Chicago-based maker of software to support care coordination in orthopedics, has landed $11 million in investments. — Business Wire

Read this behind-the-scenes look at IT management and innovation within Pfizer. – CIO

Here’s an argument in favor of clinical decision support if we’ve ever seen one: Computers are remarkably accurate in predicting schizophrenia. — Forbes

Washington Publishing Company has spun off Brentwood, Tennessee-based health IT and consulting firm WPC Healthcare. — Nashville Business Journal


This article makes it sound like the Anthem, Aetna merger plans will not happen; both companies were grilled again in Washington. – CT Mirror

As expected, Hillary Clinton comes out against the Cadillac Tax. – The Hill

The HHS Office of Inspector General has found that Medicare paid $30 million for ambulance rides in a six-month period for which there are no records that the patients transported actually received care. — Associated Press


And speaking of social networks, there’s one called Figure 1 that seems to be the place “where doctors swap gross pictures of patients.” — Wired

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images