Dispensed: A record-breaking approval, what it’s like to work in healthcare, and a call for nominations

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Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Hello,

Hope you all had a restful start to your summer!

Before we kick into the stories that kept us busy this week, I wanted to put out a call for nominations. This summer, the Business Insider healthcare team will be pulling together an “under 40” list, building on the biotech one we did in 2017 and the health tech one we did in 2018.

This time, given the expansion in our coverage, we’re looking broadly to feature folks who are under 40 and who are transforming healthcare.

We’re interested in featuring rising leaders and entrepreneurs as well as researchers and clinicians, from startups and established firms. Nominees should be able to show how their work is improving healthcare.

So send us your up-and-comers, your rockstars, the new folks on your team that you already know have ideas that will take them places.

You can find the form for nominations here. The deadline for submissions is June 19.

Questions? Hit us up at healthcare@businessinsider.com. Can’t wait to sift through all the great work!

Are you new to our newsletter? You can sign up for Dispensed here.

First, after I sent out last week’s newsletter, the FDA bestowed an approval on the first gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy, a treatment called Zolgensma that’s made by Novartis. My colleague Emma Court had the inside story on the record-breaking price tag.

A top executive at Swiss drug giant Novartis told us the inside story of the $2.1 million price tag for the most expensive drug in the world

  • The Food and Drug Administration just approved a cutting-edge new treatment from the Swiss drug giant Novartis for a rare genetic disease called spinal muscular atrophy. Priced at $2.1 million, it is the world’s most expensive drug.
  • We spoke with Dave Lennon, the head of the Novartis unit that makes the drug, about how the drugmaker decided on its price tag.
  • Lennon acknowledged the “sticker shock” of this price point but said that because of how expensive this disease was to treat, Zolgensma was actually cost-effective for the US health system.

doctor patient

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Joe Raedle/Getty Images

What it’s like to work in healthcare

This week was filled with stories surrounding pay at various healthcare companies. To start, Emma and I looked through regulatory filings to find out what the typical employee at companies like CVS Health, Walgreens, and big biotechs like Biogen and Gilead make. We found a whole lot of variance.

Relatedly, with the help of some great data compiled by our friends at BioPharma Dive I pulled together the 10 biotech companies with the highest median pay in 2018. For some places (namely, Madrigal Pharmaceuticals, which had 15 employees in 2018), the typical pay is as high as $800,000. Check out the rest of the top 10 here.

Elsewhere in healthcare, doctors are burning out twice as fast as other workers. It’s a problem that’s costing the US $4.6 billion each year. Given the World Health Organization’s recent classification of “burnout” as a medical condition, it’s important to think about the physical – as well as economic – toll healthcare professionals are taking on due to being overworked.

Relatedly, Emma and our colleagues on our strategy team mapped out how much everyone makes in a hospital makes, from nurses to surgeons.

Today, the FDA is discussing CBD and other cannabis products at an all-day event. Erin Brodwin has a refresher on what we know (and don’t know) about what CBD does to our body.

Wall Street thinks CBD could be a $16 billion industry by 2025. Here’s what the cannabis compound does to your brain and body.

  • Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a compound in cannabis that doesn’t get you high. It’s surging in popularity, with sellers touting a variety of wellness benefits.
  • CBD is also the active ingredient in an epilepsy drug called Epidiolex.
  • Wall Street thinks the CBD industry could be worth $16 billion by 2025, but that may depend on how federal regulators decide to police it. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Friday.
  • Here’s what we know about the science of CBD, from its clinical applications to its limitations.

Last week, I sat down with Andreessen Horowitz’s Jorge Conde, and he laid out for me what it’ll take to build a big biotech company that doesn’t serve as simply an acquisition target for pharmaceutical companies looking to beef up their pipelines.

Andreessen Horowitz is famous for backing household names like Facebook and Lyft. Here’s why it thinks it can do the same in biotech.

  • The Andreessen Horowitz general partner Jorge Conde is hoping to invest in biotechs that don’t quickly become acquisition targets for a pharma giant.
  • It’s a counterintuitive idea in an industry that is largely fueled by smaller biotechs getting acquired by large companies looking for the next blockbuster drugs.
  • Instead, Conde is hoping to build “large, iconic companies, much like what’s happened on the technology side,” he said at CNBC’s Healthy Returns conference in New York last week.

And on Thursday, the CEO and chief financial officer at UnitedHealth Group laid out how the healthcare giant plans to turn medical services into a $100 billion business by 2028.

UnitedHealth is already the biggest US health insurer. Now it wants to make going to the doctor its next $100 billion business.

  • UnitedHealth Group expects its healthcare delivery business OptumCare to be a $100 billion-a-year business by 2028.
  • The OptumCare business already employs or works with 38,000 doctors.
  • At the Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference, analyst Lance Wilkes asked UnitedHealth Group executives how the company plans to get there.
  • The executives said the plan includes building upon the footprint the company established over the last decade.

That’s all for this week! As always, tips? Thoughts on today’s FDA hearing or on Zolgensma’s price tag? You can find me at lramsey@BusinessInsider.com or the whole team at healthcare@businessinsider.com.

And don’t forget to nominate great folks for our leaders under 40 transforming healthcare list!

– Lydia