Welcome to another dose of Dispensed, Business Insider’s weekly healthcare newsletter! Before heading out for the holiday weekend, I wanted to highlight some of the great work the healthcare team here has been pulling together.
The entire Business Insider newsroom got together to compile a list of 100 people transforming business. We contributed 10 to the list, spanning different aspects of the healthcare industry from insurers, to pharma, to psychedelics, to cutting-edge science.
- Business Insider
Our conversations with these leaders led to a whole bunch of longer profiles and breakouts that are certainly worth checking out as well.
- Meet the little-known Harvard spinoff that’s standing up to Big Pharma and setting its own price tags for new drugs
- ‘People will try to stop you’: Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier shares the inside story of how a janitor’s son rose to graduate from Harvard Law and lead the $210 billion US pharma giant Merck
- A doctor raised more than $250 million to create a new kind of clinic that charges a monthly fee, and it could be the future of medicine
- Meet the woman overseeing a key piece of CVS Health’s plan to change how Americans get healthcare
- How top VC Annie Lamont went from carrying Steve Jobs’ bags during the Apple IPO to betting on companies that can lower costs and make going to the doctor less terrible
There was big news coming out of the gene therapy space, as Emma Court reported.
- Babies who are born with X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency (XSCID) don’t have disease-fighting immune cells. For them, the outside world is an intensely dangerous place.
- XSCID was nicknamed “bubble-boy” disease because of a young boy named David Vetter, who famously lived his entire life in a protective plastic bubble. Vetter died more than 30 years ago at age 12 after a failed treatment.
- St. Jude scientists just announced that they have successfully cured babies with XSCID, using a new experimental gene therapy that targets the disease at the genetic level.
- The new experimental treatment is being developed by the biotech Mustang Bio. Mustang Bio’s stock was set to triple on Thursday.
Relatedly, Emma had a great deep-dive into the manufacturing issues facing cell and gene therapy companies.
‘This is the most complicated process I’ve ever seen’: As billions flow into gene therapy, top execs say a crisis is brewing in the hottest new area of medicine
- The hottest new area of medicine today is a cutting-edge technology that leverages the body’s cells to treat disease.
- Companies have been pouring in and investing billions. But they’re encountering one big challenge: actually making the treatments.
- New gene and cell therapies are encountering years-long backlogs, and delays keep what could be lifesaving medicines away from patients.
Emma also had a cool story about a company looking at a new kind of experimental painkiller that could help lessen our dependence on opioids to treat certain kinds of pain.
A startup just raised $27 million to make a new kind of painkiller using technology from Harvard scientists, as the race to replace opioids heats up
- America is in the midst of a deadly opioid epidemic. There’s a need for better pain drugs that aren’t addictive.
- A new startup, Nocion Therapeutics, is using science out of Harvard and a fresh $27 million in funding to make drugs like that.
- It plans to focus first on relieving coughs, an area of pain management that’s been overlooked. More than 30 million people go to the doctor each year complaining about coughs, and prescription products sometimes include opioids.
In addition to having a great Juul-related scoop this week (about the controversial company’s digital health ambitions), Erin Brodwin had an incredible feature come out about cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, a condition that’s affecting marijuana users.
A mysterious condition can make marijuana users violently ill, and it reveals a hidden downside to the drug’s growing popularity
- Frequent marijuana use appears to be causing a mysterious syndrome characterized by severe nausea and repeated vomiting.
- Little is known about the condition, which is called cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, or CHS.
- Business Insider interviewed half a dozen patients diagnosed with CHS, as well as emergency-room doctors who’ve treated it and scientists who are studying it.
- Patients say the condition has turned their lives upside down. Experts are concerned it may be more common than once believed.
- Marijuana is gaining acceptance in the US as more states legalize the drug. But we’re just beginning to understand the variety of benefits and risks associated with it.
And a fun one to leave you all with: A few months ago, I started noticing how similar the fonts a lot of the health-tech companies I cover looked in their marketing (One Medical, Oscar Health, and Flatiron Health in particular). So I decided to investigate to see what’s driving that. Turns out there’s two fonts in play: Tiempos and GT Super. Read on to find out how the companies arrived at such similar designs.
As always, tips? Interesting slide decks? Thoughts on what UnitedHealth Group’s CEO said about Medicare for All in the earnings call this week? You can find me at email@example.com, or the entire healthcare team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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