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Brainstorm Health Daily: July 19, 2017

Greetings, readers.

Cliff is traveling today and wrapping up Fortune‘s Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen.

Beyond the ongoing Obamacare repeal drama: Boston-based drug maker Vertex Pharmaceutical’s stock soared 21% in Wednesday trading after its drug combination therapy for cystic fibrosis (CF)—a rare genetic disorder that eats away at the lungs, pancreas, and other organs—posted promising results in early clinical trials that easily outpaced original Wall Street expectations. That amounts to a multi-billion dollar market value gain for the company.

The day’s other health care news below.

Sy Mukherjee
@the_sy_guy
sayak.mukherjee@fortune.com

DIGITAL HEALTH

Digital health companies on prominent display at Fortune‘s Brainstorm Tech conference. Fortune‘s annual Brainstorm Tech conference wrapped up today in Aspen. And several high-tech health care focused companies were featured front and center, including Halo Neuroscience, Forward, and Pokitdok. Check out the firms (and what they do) here. (Fortune)

INDICATIONS

Vertex wows with data for its cystic fibrosis drug, shares soar. As I touched on above, Boston-based biotech Vertex Pharmaceuticals is having one heck of trading day. Its stock is up more than 20% (no small feat for a company that now has a nearly $41 billion market valuation) thanks to clinical trial results for a cystic fibrosis (CF) drug cocktail which shocked investors. The three-drug combo boosted a lung function metric for CF patients by at least 9.6 percentage points—nearly four times the number that analysts were expecting.

BIO wants Congress to go after biotech short sellers. The biotech sector is notorious for the prevalence of short-sellers. Which makes sense—drug discovery is a particularly volatile business which carries both the hopes of R&D optimists and a high risk of failure. But one of the biggest groups for biotech, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), is arguing that the practice ultimately harms patients. Specifically, BIO-associated representatives are asking Congress to put up new transparency laws which would require short-sellers to reveal their identities and disclose what their business practices are. What’s unclear is whether or not such a policy would actually boost drug development. (Wall Street Journal)

THE BIG PICTURE

With Obamacare repeal-and-delay dead, what happens next? The Senate’s quest to dismantle Obamacare seemingly—seemingly—came to an end on Tuesday as both the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) and a backup plan to “repeal and delay” Obamacare were killed by GOP conservatives and moderates, respectively. (For a broader look at the mad-dash 24 hours leading up to this, you can check out my initial analysis here.) Some caveats: Never say never when it comes to health care. President Trump lunched with the Senate Republican caucus Wednesday in an effort to revive the BCRA (and the Department of Health and Human Services put out a rather rosy projection for one of the bill’s most controversial provisions, an amendment from Sen. Ted Cruz that would allow insurers to sell plans that don’t have to comply with Obamacare’s various requirements). But if the entire effort does ultimately fail, the administration still has to deal with the very real problems in a number of Obamacare marketplaces. And, theoretically, it could undermine the health law by refusing to make certain payments to insurers which would likely lead to widespread premium increases.

REQUIRED READING

How a Second-Place Company Can Be a Winnerby Matthew Heimer

Spying or Cyberwar? How to Tell the Differenceby Jeff John Roberts

How Lyft Could Defeat Uberby Michal Lev-Ram

Why Trump Should Be Happy the GOP’s ‘Repeal-and-Delay’ Is Deadby Sally C. Pipes

Produced by Sy Mukherjee
@the_sy_guy
sayak.mukherjee@fortune.com

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