Dispensed: How health insurance startups fared at the start of 2019, Impossible Foods' big burger change, and a look at uBiome's board

Dispensed: How health insurance startups fared at the start of 2019, Impossible Foods' big burger change, and a look at uBiome's board

impossible burger 2.0 hands

Courtesy Impossible Foods



Welcome to our latest edition of Dispensed, Business Insider's weekly dispatch of healthcare news.

First up, a quick update on the uBiome front (the microbiome testing company raided in April by the FBI). We've learned that the company now has only one independent director left on its board. Former Novartis CEO Joe Jimenez, who joined the uBiome board in 2018, departed in April, while two others resigned in recent weeks.

Read the letter to investors laying that all out.


We've been working hard to get the full story on what's going on at uBiome. Have something you think we should be digging into? Let us know by emailing healthcare@businessinsider.com.

On a related note (or unrelated, subject-matter-wise), curious to hear what you thought of the lawsuit 44 attorneys general dropped against 20 generic drugmakers, accusing them of working together to set prices. The lawsuit brings similar allegations to a 2016 lawsuit. It's got me wondering what's ahead for the generic drug industry, which already has some problems.

New to our newsletter? You can sign up for Dispensed here.

To start, Erin Brodwin has the scoop on Impossible Foods' plan to roll out the "Impossible Whopper" nationwide. It involved a big change to the company's meatless burger recipe.

The inside story of how Silicon Valley burger startup Impossible Foods is going global after its sizzling Burger King debut

  • Impossible Foods, the Silicon Valley startup that makes a veggie burger that tastes like the real thing, is getting ready to roll out the Impossible Whopper nationwide.
  • To do it, the company has had to significantly change the recipe for its "bleeding" Impossible Burger.
  • One of the new ingredients is soy made using genetic engineering, the company exclusively told Business Insider.
  • Impossible Foods just raised $300 million to help it ramp up its manufacturing capabilities.

I spent a lot of my week looking through the first-quarter insurance filings that dropped on Wednesday. I dug through insurance filings state-by-state so you don't have to.


Here's what I learned.

health insurance startups 4x3

Bright Health; Alex Wong/Getty; Clover Health; Oscar Health; Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

Bright Health CEO Bob Sheehy, Devoted Health co-founder and executive chairman Todd Park, Clover Health CEO Vivek Garipalli, and Oscar Health CEO Mario Schlosser.

(Here's a recap of how each of these four companies looked coming into 2019, in case you missed it).

In other news, I took a look at One Medical founder Tom Lee's newest primary care venture, Galileo Health. It's backed by Oak HC/FT and plans to take care of Medicaid and Medicare patients. Here's what else I've learned so far:

The founder of One Medical is building a new primary care startup to care for the sickest Americans

  • Tom Lee is the founder of primary care startup One Medical, which charges an annual fee and also bills your insurance.
  • Lee left the CEO role at One Medical in 2017 as it started to enter its growth stage.
  • Now, he's working on a new medical clinic company called Galileo.
  • The new primary care venture based in New York. It's focusing on a much different set of patients than One Medical.

Emma Court got her hands on a pitch deck for Sempre Health, a company looking to disrupt the way prescription drug discounts work.


We got a look at the pitch deck of buzzy Silicon Valley health-tech startup Sempre Health. It reveals how a $4 billion industry is ripe for disruption.

  • Sempre Health is a health-tech startup that gives patients discounts on their prescriptions if they fill them at the pharmacy on time.
  • Sempre wants to disrupt the big business of drug coupons, a roughly $4 billion industry.
  • The startup argues its approach is more effective because it works with health insurance and encourages patients to take medications like blood thinners and diabetes drugs on time.
  • We got an inside look at Sempre's business model and pitch deck. Read on for more.

Emma also took a close look at the potential for a new kind of cancer treatment that uses donor cells programmed to fight the disease (so-called "allogeneic CAR-T").

'That may well be the future': Companies have poured $8.5 billion into creating a new version of a cutting-edge, highly personalized cancer treatment

  • In the next generation of cancer treatments, patients could receive cells from strangers that have been engineered to better fight the disease.
  • An analysis done by Informa Pharma Intelligence for Business Insider shows that about $8.5 billion has been poured into licensing deals for this technology in recent years.
  • Nearly 30 drugs are being developed using this approach, according to the analysis.
  • Companies hope this "allogeneic CAR T" therapeutic approach could overcome limitations of existing cancer treatments, reaching more types of cancer in an easier, more convenient way.

Oh! And in case you missed it - let tech reporter Paige Leskin take you on a tour of the $5,000 a month apartment Elizabeth Holmes reportedly once called home. Truly a fun read.

I'll be in Milwaukee this weekend getting my fill of cheese curds, but I'll be back before Monday, when the BI healthcare team will bring you more great stories.

If you're in NYC next week, I'll be at the WSJ Future of Everything conference moderating a very early panel on Monday at 7:30. Would love to see you there or later in the week at some of the other events around town.

In the meantime, you can find me at lramsey@businessinsider or on the encrypted chat app Signal at +1 646-889-2130. And send along tips/words of encouragement now that summer is finally here to the whole team at healthcare@businessinsider.com.


- Lydia