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Brainstorm Health Daily: May 5, 2017

Good morning and happy Friday, readers. This is Sy.

2014 was a watershed year for biotech companies going public. Just how hot was the market? Consider this: There were 71 biotech IPOs in 2014, making up about one in four of all U.S. IPOs that year.

The flurry calmed down considerably in the ensuing years. In fact, in 2016, there were just 42 IPOs across the entire health care sector. But there have been five biotech IPOs so far in the second quarter of 2017 after a sluggish start in the first quarter, including two on Thursday: Ovid Therapeutics and Biohaven Pharmaceuticals, which is creating migraine and neurological disorder drugs. In Biohaven’s case, the firm managed to raise a robust $168 million in its public offering.

There’s still a long way to go in 2017, and it’s unclear if the market can heat up enough to get anywhere close to the 2014 numbers. But it appears that biopharma companies are willing to go public again after a big slump amid last year’s drug pricing backlash and the presidential election.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee


Fitbit spikes after first quarter earnings report. Shares of wearables firm Fitbit spiked as much as 12% Thursday after the company announced first quarter earning results that beat Wall Street expectations. Fitbit and other fitness tracker companies have been facing a tough market; but the firm reported almost $20 million more in revenue than analysts had projected. Fitbit has labeled 2017 a “transition year” in which it will shift its focus to keep up with changing consumer habits. (Fortune)

A complete coverage guide to Brainstorm Health. Our mega-wrapup of the 2nd annual Brainstorm Health conference is now live. We have 40 original stories from the event covering panels, interviews, and demos on everything from bringing medicine to 100 million children to the right way to approach health care investing. Go ahead and check them out. (Fortune)


J&J ordered to pay $110 million in talcum powder cancer trial. Johnson & Johnson was dealt yet another painful jury ruling in a string of cases centering on its talcum powder products and their alleged links to ovarian cancer. This time, the jury demanded J&J to pay more than $110 million to a Virginia woman who says the products caused her to develop ovarian cancer after years of use; it’s the largest award presented to a plaintiff in these trials so far. As with the other adverse decisions, J&J plans to appeal. (Fortune)


What’s next for Trumpcare? The American Health Care Act passed on a 217-213 vote in the House of Representatives Thursday, giving House Speaker Paul Ryan and President Donald Trump a heavily-sought victory. But it’s already facing challenges in the Senate, where the bill would be expected to fail in its current form. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said that the Senate would continue to craft its own original legislation and would not bring any bill up for a vote unless it carries the support of 51 senators.

Anthem asks Supreme Court to save its Cigna deal. Insurance giant Anthem is taking its pursuit of rival Cigna all the way to the nation’s highest court. The $48 billion proposed buyout has been troubled, with federal judges and appellate courts blocking it and Cigna itself suing Anthem for billions in damages. But Anthem isn’t ready to give up, asking SCOTUS to undo last week’s appellate court ruling and consider a more nuanced understanding of the health care market. It’s a decidedly different tactic than Aetna, which abandoned its own proposed merger with Humana after being stymied by a federal judge. (CBS News)


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Produced by Sy Mukherjee

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