The making of a cancer-killing giant

Bristol-Myers Squibb has started off the 2019 season of M&A with a huge proposal: buying the biotech Celgene in a $74B deal. If completed, it would be the largest pharma acquisition to date, blowing the previous-record holder—Takeda’s pending Shire acquisition for $62B—out of the water. Both companies are oncology giants, specifically in immunology and blood cancers, but BMS will be acquiring a decent amount of risk with the purchase. Celgene’s market cap has gone down $70B in the past 14 months partly due to poor financial forecasts for when the company’s top drug Revlimid loses patent protection. BMS likely hopes to make that up with six possible product launches in the next few years. Okay, enough numbers. To round out this New Jersey-focused blurb, here’s some New Jersey would-you-rathers.

UK can’t give it away!

A “free” health check-up every 5 years is available to everyone from 40 to 74 years old in the UK. (Apparently after 74, you’re on you own.) That’s about 15 million people. But according to the NHS, only about 7 million have taken advantage of the offer since 2013. What, are you too good for “free” healthcare? You don’t need to have your blood pressure, height and weight measured? You’re tired of being yelled at by your spouse for the same things and don’t need your doc doing it too? Yeah, I probably wouldn’t do it either, but you should. If you’re in the age range, be on the lookout for a notice from your healthcare provider. If you’re under 40, remind your parents that it’s a good idea.

New year, new price transparency

January 1 marks the first day US hospitals must comply with the Inpatient Prospective Payment System rule to post the price for each individually offered service on their websites. Advocates for price transparency are pretty happy, but providers aren’t—92% of them are concerned about the new policy. After all, list prices aren’t out-of-pocket prices. Providers are also concerned about other initiatives in 2019, including the International Pricing Index proposed by the White House to bring American drug costs in line with other developed nations. Another policy to watch is the proposal to include prescription drug costs in DTC TV ads. Drugmakers have a lot to spend on ads considering they spent $3.7B on them in 2018, so maybe that change won’t be too hard to make monetarily-speaking. Speaking of drug pricing, here’s 2018’s most expensive retail pharmacy drugs.

Apparently, size does matter

When it comes to the four healthiest states in the US. Let’s give a shout out to Hawaii (8th smallest), Massachusetts (7th smallest), Connecticut (3rd smallest) and Vermont (6th smallest) for being the healthiest states. All this according to a whopping 188-page report from the United Health Foundation. Number 5 on the list? Utah, but it didn’t continue the “size” analysis so insert your favorite Book of Mormon or Mitt Romney reference here. Want another pattern? Sure you do. Know what the worst five states were? See if you can pick up the pattern yourself: Arkansas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Remember, one of the best ways to stay healthy is to avoid donuts. This from Globo Gym’s CEO, White Goodman.

Boys rule, girls drool

How has this writer lived (well) into adulthood and not known that more newborn babies are male than female? In every single year from 1838—when they began keeping records—until present, more babies born in England and Wales have been boys than girls. And this is common around the globe, according to an article published by the BBC. The ratio is about 105 boys to 100 girls. Many theories exist for why this is the case but the most intuitive of them, IMHO, is that males tend to live more dangerous lives, perishing prior to reproducing. Therefore, nature must produce more males at birth to ensure enough survive to reproduce. It is also hypothesized that sperm carrying the Y chromosome are faster swimmers and fertilize eggs at greater rates than those carrying the X. Maybe an X weighs more. What do I know? Here’s a list of the 7 worst things about being a male.

“Abstinence-only” doubts

When you hear the phrase abstinence-only you probably associate it with sex ed. First, get your head out of the gutter, c’mon. The kind we’re talking about is how it relates to opioid addiction treatment, but the criticisms of both approaches boil down to the same point: they just don’t work for everyone. When it comes to addiction, treatment centers are increasingly using Medication Assisted Treatment, or MAT, to help users not only manage withdrawal symptoms, but to also greatly reduce the risk of overdose. There’re some ethical questions involved like: aren’t patients just switching their substance dependency to another substance? Also, if MAT becomes standard, the pharmaceutical industry would benefit from it financially. That makes some squeamish considering its role in the epidemic’s beginning. This writer’s take? It’s easier to treat alive patients.