Dispensed: A lawsuit accuses 20 drug companies of cozying up to raise drug prices, dispatches from Seattle, and 2019 predictions
iStock; Samantha Lee/Business Insider
Before everyone departs for their end-of-year celebrations, I wanted to get one more 2018 edition of Dispensed into your inboxes! We've been filling our days with frantic last-minute shopping as well as heaps of great stories perfect for reading when you need a minute away from the family.
A quick housekeeping item: Zach Tracer, Erin Brodwin, and I will be out at the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference, while Emma Court holds everything together in New York. Be sure to say hi if you see us frantically running around from meeting to meeting!
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To kick things off, this week Emma got her hands on an unredacted version of the lawsuit attorneys general are bringing against almost 20 generic drug manufacturers. accusing them of working together to raise drug prices. It's quite a read, especially some of the messages between executives that include among other things a smiley face emoji.
A huge lawsuit accuses nearly 20 big drug companies, a billionaire, and 2 brothers-in-law of cozying up to hike drug prices. Here's the inside story.
- Attorneys general for most US states are bringing a large federal antitrust lawsuit against nearly 20 generic-drug makers, alleging they illegally collaborated to jack up drug prices.
- Business Insider is the first to report on the unredacted suit, which alleges frequent, close communications among employees of rival companies about how to increase prices.
- Common drugs had their prices doubled, tripled, or even increased by 1,000% or more, costing taxpayers and patients and violating federal and state competition and consumer-protection laws, the federal antitrust suit alleges.
- These drugs treat anxiety, insomnia, epilepsy, heart failure, diabetes, and more.
- The lawsuit has brought new scrutiny to generic drugs - which are often thought of as low-cost - and the business practices of generic-drug makers.
Lydia Ramsey/Business Insider
As promised, I have some dispatches from my time in Seattle. I spent a big chunk of my week with the folks at Providence St. Joseph Health, the health system that owns 51 hospitals and made $23 billion in revenue in 2017. They've been making some innovative moves on a number of fronts, from big tech hires to direct contracts with large employers.
- Providence on Monday announced it had hired B.J. Moore, a former Microsoft executive, as its chief information officer. He starts in January. "I see it as a critical emerging industry from a digital transformation perspective," Moore told Business Insider.
- Five years ago, they made another tech hire: Aaron Martin, who joined from Amazon where he'd been working on the Kindle. We talked about the growing pains Martin felt when joining Providence and thinking it'd be simple to fit tech into the health system's primary care clinics.
- Providence has also been experimenting with working more directly with employers, a move that's been catching on as CEOs start to think more critically about the rising healthcare costs they're paying for their employees. It doesn't always go swimmingly though, as Providence found with Boeing. I spoke with Rhonda Medows, Providence's president of population health management about the 5 lessons she learned from that experience.
The Seattle conversations reminded me a lot of what Paul Markovich, the CEO of the health insurer Blue Shield of California told Erin. His warning for the tech giants like Amazon and Google: Pay attention to privacy.
Zach and policy reporter Bob Bryan also took a look at the Obamacare enrollment numbers that came out this week. They found that things weren't as bad as they could've been.
The newest Obamacare enrollment numbers prove the health law is 'far from dead' despite repeated attacks from Trump and the GOP
- Sign ups for Obamacare health insurance plans through the Healthcare.gov marketplace fell 4% for 2019.
- While this is the second straight year that enrollment declined, the final tally is much better than earlier numbers suggested.
- The drop was due to a slew of reasons ranging from the repeal of the individual mandate in the GOP tax law to Virginia's expansion of Medicaid.
The BI healthcare team is also here for all your year-end/year-ahead posts as well, from taking a look at the year we had in the biotech IPO market and the biggest M&A deals to what leading VCs are predicting for 2019 and why a new crop of drugs could change the way we treat depression starting next year.
- 6 top VCs give their best 2019 predictions for healthcare, from a biotech correction to a 'shadow cash economy' stepping into the light
- Companies hunting for new ways to tackle cancer and Alzheimer's raised $6.3 billion going public in 2018 - here are the 10 biggest deals of the year
- The billion-dollar startups revolutionizing healthcare that you should be watching in 2019
- The 50 US states ranked from most to least healthy
- A fresh crop of promising drugs is poised to change the way depression is treated for the first time in decades. Here are the ones to watch in 2019.
See you in 2019! As always, feel free to spread holiday cheer or tips to us at email@example.com.
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