Brainstorm Health: BeiGene IPO, Amerisource CEO on Amazon, California Data Privacy Law

Hello, readers. This is Sy.

For all intents and purposes, you’d think a $900 million-plus IPO would be considered a smashing success. In the case of Beijing-based biotech BeiGene, it’s a mild disappointment.

BeiGene, which debuted to a $158 million public offering on the NASDAQ back in 2016, just had its secondary IPO on the Hong Kong exchange HKEX. It raised a whopping $903 million, according to Reuters, and is part of an effort by Hong Kong to attract secondary listings as it implements new, more lenient rules for drugmakers that are still in the earliest stages of the clinical trial process without any products on the market.

Here’s the thing—BeiGene wanted to hit $1 billion, capital that it would use to fund R&D and studies of its pipeline of cancer immunotherapy drugs. In fact, the $903 million raise represents about a 1.6% discount to its NASDAQ closing price on Wednesday (shares of the biotech fell about 1.3% in Thursday afternoon trading, although the stock is still up 83% on the year and nearly 430% since going public in February 2016). The overall IPO range sought by BeiGene was reportedly between $908 million and $1.07 billion.

The South China Morning Post alludes to one reason why the biotech didn’t quite reach its aspirational goal: Health care stocks in the country have been in a slump following the loss of investor and public confidence following a major scandal over ineffective vaccines and falsified data which has been rocking China. “While the eight-year-old Beijing-based cancer drug maker has nothing to do with the scandal, brokers however said the incident has hurt investors’ confidence in the sector and hence affected the retail response to its IPO, which closed at noon on Thursday,” reports the Post‘s Enoch Yiu.

Miss aside, the volume of the raise still underscores the Hong Kong exchange’s ambitions in attracting biotechs and becoming a major listing competitor to U.S. markets.

Read on for the day’s news.


FCC moves forward on $100 million telehealth pilot program. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Thursday voted to move forward and seek public comments on the creation of a $100 million pilot program meant to expand telehealth services for veterans and low-income Americans. The independent agency's "Notice of Inquiry" into the "Connected Care Pilot Program" is just a first step; such a program, if finally enacted, would "promote the use of broadband-enabled telehealth services among low-income families and veterans, with a focus on services delivered directly to patients beyond the doors of brick-and-mortar health care facilities."

California consumer privacy act aims to give residents more control of their medical data. A new California law aims to give Golden State residents more control over their medical data. The law, called the California Consumer Privacy Act, is a shot across the bow at data-hoarding pharmaceutical and digital health firms that use vast swaths of data for purposes such as clinical trials and drug discovery (there is an exemption for businesses covered under HIPAA). Under it, consumers would have the right to know how their personal data is being used and be able to request that the data be deleted; it will go into effect at the beginning of 2020. (Bloomberg)


How the top-selling drugs thwart their competition. A revealing new report from I-Mak sheds light on the creative methods that drug makers use to protect their best-selling products from any semblance of lower-priced competition, in essence thwarting generics while continuously hiking list prices on the medicines. Some key findings from the report, which is well worth your time, outlines the trends among the top 12 grossing drugs in the U.S.: On average, there are 71 granted patents on the therapies, and 125 patent applications filed; the filed patents amount to about 38 years of total patent protection for the drugs on average, or nearly double the 20-year period intended by U.S. law; list prices on these products have swelled 68% since 2012, and just one lone drug among the dozen has seen a price decrease. (I-Mak)

AmerisourceBergen CEO isn't sweating Amazon in drug distribution. My colleague Susie Gharib sat down with Steven Collis, CEO of drug distributing giant AmerisourceBergen, about the specter of Amazon entering the industry via its acquisition of online pharmacy PillPack. Collis didn't sound excessively concerned. “I suspect it’s going to be a very, very long term before this could be a really significant force,” he told Susie. Check out video of the entire interview here(Fortune)


Brookings: Obamacare premiums would be falling in a "stable" environment. A new report from the Brookings Institution and the University of Southern California Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics finds that individual insurance premiums under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would have actually fallen by 4.3% in the 2019 plan year in a more stable regulatory environment (i.e., one where the individual mandate had not been repealed and short-term, non-Obamacare compliant plans were still largely restricted, among other Trump administration provisions meant to shed away at the health law). On another ACA-related note, four cities (Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, and Columbus, Ohio) filed a joint lawsuit on Thursday claiming President Trump has violated the Constitution by deliberately undermining and actively discouraging enrollment in Obamacare, a law that has not been repealed and is technically the executive branch's responsibility to enforce. (Brookings)

Ebola rears its head in the Congo, again. The scourge of Ebola has once again hit the Democratic Republic of Congo, with government officials claiming that there have been 26 new suspected cases including 20 deaths. A recent outbreak of the deadly virus claimed at least 33 lives earlier this summer but was declared over just last week, on July 24. (New York Times)


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