Happy Monday, readers!
Bristol-Myers Squibb hasn’t exactly had a pristine path to its proposed acquisition of Celgene. Sure, the legacy pharma giant racked up more than 75% of shareholder votes to approve the $74 billion acquisition following a quickly-quashed rebellion from some activist naysayers. But the company hit another hurdle in its Celgene acquisition quest that sent Bristol Myers stock tumbling nearly 7.5%, a $6 billion erasure in market value.
The reason(s)? For one, Bristol-Myers Squibb reported an unfortunate clinical trial result from a late-stage study of its cancer immunotherapy superstar Opdivo in liver cancer. For another—BMS made a somewhat surprising announcement that it would spin off Celgene’s blockbuster psoriasis and arthritis drug Otezla, slated to rake in nearly $2 billion in sales this year alone, in order to address Federal Trade Commission (FTC) antitrust concerns over the M&A.
That means the Bristol-Myers Celgene deal may not close until early 2020, rather than the originally expected timeline by the end of this year.
“Bristol-Myers Squibb reaffirms the significant value creation opportunity of the acquisition of Celgene,” the firm said in a statement. “Together with $2.5 billion of cost synergies, a compelling pipeline and a strong portfolio of marketed products, the company continues to expect growth in sales and earnings through 2025.”
Investors can be a fickle bunch. For now, though, they don’t seem particularly pleased at the decision to lop off one of Celgene’s tried and true cash cows.
Read on for the day’s news.
The digital health funding fever. I explore the record digital health VC funding figures for my latest piece in the Fortune print issue (on news stands, online, and something you’re just generally going to have to click on to get the goods). OK, one spoiler: The venture funding in the field reached an all-time record in 2018. (Fortune)
UnitedHealth snaps up PatientsLikeMe. Health insurance giant UnitedHealth is already a titan of the medical industry, its grip reaching everything from the pharmacy benefits business to doctors’ networks. It’s now extending into the digital health business via an acquisition of the online PatientsLikeMe portal, according to MobiHealthNews. “This independent unit of UnitedHealth Group invests in research that speeds improvements to drive innovation in healthcare,” said PatientsLikeMe CEO Jamie Heywood in a statement. “We’ve chosen to join with UnitedHealth Group Research & Development because they share that same drive to improve health at the individual level and to ensure that healthcare outcomes across the board are more effective.” (MobiHealthNews)
Trump signs health care price transparency executive order. President Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order aimed at making health care prices more transparent. It’s a pet issue for Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who claimed that the move would force health care companies to drive down prices once exposed to the light of day. That remains to be seen—public shaming isn’t a proven method for reducing such prices. But at the very least the move should reveal more information on how such pricing works. (The Hill)
THE BIG PICTURE
Supreme Court decides to hear out insurers on Obamacare payments in a surprise. In a surprise decision, the Supreme Court has decided to review lower court rulings that insurance companies aren’t entitled to certain payments under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare. The so-called “risk corridor” payments were meant to be a safeguard against rising premiums but combated by the Trump administration, which classified them as “bailouts” for insurance companies. (Reuters)
Lessons from the VC Who’s Seen It All Before, by Polina Marinova
Why Microsoft’s Slack Ban May Be a Mistake, by Aaron Pressman
In Hindsight: How Warby Parker Got Its Start, by Dinah Eng