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  • Tue, Nov. 8, 8:58 PM
    | Tue, Nov. 8, 8:58 PM | 8 Comments
  • Thu, Apr. 14, 3:58 AM
    | Thu, Apr. 14, 3:58 AM | 7 Comments
  • Oct. 26, 2015, 11:39 AM
    • It's been a "remarkable turn" in relative performance, says Deutsche Bank's David Bianco, noting health care was about 1K basis points ahead of the S&P 500 as recently as mid-August, but both are now about flat and neck-and-neck year-to-date.
      "We find this reversal unwarranted and think health care could surge into year-end," says Bianco, and if the move doesn't come in 2015, it'll surely happen next year. As for valuation, health care is selling for 14.7x 2016E EPS vs. the S&P 500 at 16x - this even as health care's expected 6% sales growth should easily trump that of nominal GDP and the S&P 500. Biano sees 6-9% EPS growth, also better than the S&P.
    • Focus on the big picture, says Bianco: "We believe growth in health care products will stay strong owing to an aging population and increasing efforts to treat conditions with drugs and maximize the productivity of scarce healthcare labor with as many tools and conveniences as conceivable." He likes S&P 500 biotech, pharma, devices, equipment, supplies, tech, and tools, but is cautious on managed care and other healthcare services and facilities.
    • ETFs: IBB, IYH, XLV, XBI, VHT, PJP, BBH, FBT, HQH, CURE, XPH, HQL, PBE, FXH, RXL, IHE, FHLC, SBIO, IHF, PPH, IHI, XHS, RYH, BBC, THQ, PSCH, BBP, XHE, RXD, CNCR, LABD, LABU, UBIO, ZBIO
    | Oct. 26, 2015, 11:39 AM | 18 Comments
  • Apr. 7, 2015, 7:14 AM
    • The government surprisingly intends to increase Medicare Advantage payments by about 1.25% in 2016, reversing a proposal to make a cut of 0.9%.
    • The move should benefit insurers such as UnitedHealth (NYSE:UNH) and Humana (NYSE:HUM).
    • The change is mainly connected to tweaks in estimates of how fast Medicare spending has been rising rather than to changes in policy.
    • Other health insurers include: AET, HNT, MO
    • ETFs: XLV, XHE, VHT, FXH, IHF, IHI, IYH, PTH, RYH, PSCH, RXL, RXD, XHS
    | Apr. 7, 2015, 7:14 AM | 13 Comments
  • May 18, 2014, 3:03 AM
    • Some health insurers intend to join more state Obamacare exchanges next year, a development that could lead to more moderate price increases, or even prices falls, as competition increases.
    • In Washington state, for example, four insurers plan to sell coverage for the first time in 2015, while in Indiana, the number of providers could double to eight.
    • Of the insurers, UnitedHealth Group (UNH) is set to offer new plans in the states mentioned, adding to five exchanges that it already operates on.
    • The providers could be hoping to benefit from "second-mover" advantage whereby they will look to sign up the increased number of younger and healthier people who are forecast to purchase coverage next year as the penalty for not doing so increases. Those who are in worse health and bought coverage last year are expected to remain with their existing plans.
    • Meanwhile, the Center for American Progress (CAP) think tank, which is close to the White House, has called for President Obama to appoint a CEO with private-sector experience to oversee Obamacare's federal and state online health insurance exchanges. The idea is that the exchanges would run as e-commerce sites. The CEO would also oversee insurers and market regulations, although not Medicare or Medicaid. (CAP report)
    • More on Obamacare
    • Health insurers: AET, HNT, HUM, UNH, WLP, MO
    • ETFs: XLV, XHE, VHT, FXH, IHF, IHI, IYH, PTH, RYH, PSCH, RXL, RXD, XHS
    | May 18, 2014, 3:03 AM | 8 Comments
  • May 9, 2014, 12:09 PM
    • At last night's GeekWire Awards ceremony in Seattle, Leafly won App of the Year. The mobile app, described by some as the "Yelp of cannabis" helps pot consumers stay informed about cannabis strains, products and the best places to purchase them. It also connects patients to doctors who can assist them through the medical authorization process. It contains over 100K user-generated reviews of more than 800 cannabis strains as well as thousands of dispensaries and doctor locations around the world. GeekWire praised its functionality and clean professional appearance.
    • Leafly founder Cy Scott says, "Our team is truly honored to receive this award. When we released the app, our goal was to offer a simple way for medical and recreational cannabis consumers to get robust information at their fingertips. This award is a win for all who support the cannabis movement."
    • (MDBX) (MJMJ) (REFG) (SKTO) (ERBB) (CBCA) (AVTC) (AEGY)
    • ETFs: IYH, XLV, VHT, CURE, FXH, RXL, FHLC, PSCH, RYH, PTH, RXD
    | May 9, 2014, 12:09 PM | 5 Comments
  • May 8, 2014, 7:35 AM
    • China intends to end price limits on low-cost drugs after the controls caused quality problems and shortages.
    • China's economic planning body, the National Development & Reform Commission, will lift price caps on 280 drugs provided by Western companies and 250 Chinese patent medicines.
    • Sanofi (SNY) and Pfizer (PFE) said it's too early to ascertain the impact of the new policy. Other companies that could be affected include GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).
    • ETFs: IYH, IBB, XLV, XBI, VHT, BIB, PJP, BBH, FBT, PBE, XPH, CURE, FXH, IHE, RXL, IRY, IXJ, PPH, BIS, FHLC, PSCH, RYH, PTH, DRGS, RXD
    | May 8, 2014, 7:35 AM
  • Apr. 25, 2014, 2:49 PM
    • Much of the high tech equipment hospitals use can be easily hacked and could pose a significant danger to patients according to the head of information security at Essentia Health.
    • Imaging equipment, insulin pumps, defibrillators and refrigerators that store blood and drugs are examples of networked gear that have remote access control features.
    • The devices' software is plagued by common security holes like weak passwords, lack of authentication to access, easy-to-determine default and hard-coded passwords and embedded web servers and administrative interfaces that make it easy to identify and manipulate devices once found on the network.
    • Hospital are apparently just waking up to the potential risks.
    • Last spring, the FDA and DHS issued a notice to the health care industry about problems with hard-coded passwords after researchers found issues in ~300 devices.
    • ETFs: IYH, IBB, XLV, XBI, VHT, BIB, PJP, BBH, FBT, PBE, XPH, CURE, FXH, IHE, RXL, IRY, IXJ, PPH, IHI, BIS, IHF, FHLC, XHS, PSCH, RYH, XHE, PTH, DRGS, RXD
    | Apr. 25, 2014, 2:49 PM
  • Apr. 22, 2014, 12:14 PM
    | Apr. 22, 2014, 12:14 PM
  • Apr. 22, 2014, 11:33 AM
    • The FDA proposes an "Expedited Access PMA" (EAP) process for medical devices that treat or diagnose patients with serious conditions whose medical needs are unmet by current technology. The program features earlier and more interactive participation by agency staff to collaboratively develop a plan for the collection of the scientific and clinical data to support approval. The EAP aims to reduce certain devices' development times in addition to the expected shortened premarket review.
    • Eligible devices must fit the following profile: 1) be intended to treat or diagnose a life-threatening or irreversibly-debilitating disease or condition and 2) represent one of the following: no approved alternative treatment/diagnostic exists or it represents a breakthrough technology that provides a clinically meaningful advantage over existing technology or offers a significant clinically meaningful advantage over currently-available alternatives or the device's availability is in the patient's best interest.
    • The proposed EAP builds on the Expedited Access Program for pharmaceuticals that the FDA launched in 2011.
    • Draft guidance
    • Healthcare ETFs: IYH, IBB, XLV, XBI, VHT, BIB, PJP, BBH, FBT, PBE, XPH, CURE, FXH, IHE, RXL, IRY, IXJ, PPH, IHI, BIS, IHF, FHLC, XHS, PSCH, RYH, XHE, PTH, DRGS, RXD
    | Apr. 22, 2014, 11:33 AM
  • Apr. 18, 2014, 4:03 AM
    • Eight million people have enrolled for health insurance under Obamacare, President Obama said yesterday, easily surpassing earlier projections by the Congressional Budget Office for 6-7M signups by the end of March.
    • The high number of enrollments was achieved despite the technical problems that the online exchanges suffered, particularly when the Affordable Care Act was launched last year.
    • Around 35% of those who purchased coverage were people under 35, who are thought to be less likely need to treatment and so can help balance the cost of claims for those who need care.
    • However, Obama didn't provide details about the number of enrollees who already had insurance before Obamacare was introduced.
    • More on Obamacare
    • Health insurers: AET, HNT, HUM, UNH, WLP,
    • ETFs: XLV, XHE, VHT, FXH, IHF, IHI, IYH, PTH, RYH, PSCH, RXL, RXD, XHS
    | Apr. 18, 2014, 4:03 AM | 127 Comments
  • Apr. 17, 2014, 2:15 PM
    • Texas researchers predict that one in twenty or ~12M people in outpatient settings in the U.S. are misdiagnosed by doctors each year. About half could potentially harm patients.
    • They analyzed 3,000 patient records and found a misdiagnosis rate of 5%. Extrapolating the rate to the 80% of U.S. adults who receive outpatient medical care yields 12M people.
    • Faulty medical records and other potential flaws in the data could mean the real misdiagnosis rate is higher.
    • The study's lead author, Dr. Hardeep Singh of Baylor College of Medicine, hopes his team's findings give quality-of-care stakeholders a clearer sense of the problem.
    • ETFs: IYH, XLV, VHT, CURE, FXH, RXL, IRY, IXJ, IHF, FHLC, XHS, PSCH, RYH, PTH, RXD
    | Apr. 17, 2014, 2:15 PM
  • Apr. 17, 2014, 1:49 PM
    | Apr. 17, 2014, 1:49 PM | 1 Comment
  • Apr. 17, 2014, 1:30 PM
    • Scientists create patient-specific cell lines from the skin cells of two adult men in a procedure called somatic cell nuclear transfer demonstrating that the technique can work for people of all ages. The embryonic cells are genetically identical to the donor and have profound therapeutic potential.
    • The cloning procedure is difficult, however. Only one in thirty-nine attempts was successful.
    • In therapeutic cloning, a jolt of electricity fuses a grown cell (e.g. skin cell) with an ovum whose DNA has been removed. After ~5 days of dividing and multiplying it develops into a hollow sphere-shaped embryo. The interior cells are pluripotent stem cells which can develop into many different kinds of cells. The goal is to coax them to develop into specialized cells for therapeutic purposes.
    • Complicating the ability to create patient-specific cell lines for millions of people are women's reticence over donating eggs, a sometimes painful process. Widespread donations may not be ultimately necessary since many people have genetically similar immune systems so 100 human embryonic stem cell lines would match over 50% of the U.S. population according to the co-author of the study, Dr. Robert Lanza.
    • Healthcare ETFs: IYH, IBB, XLV, XBI, VHT, BIB, PJP, BBH, FBT, PBE, XPH, CURE, FXH, IHE, RXL, IRY, IXJ, PPH, IHI, BIS, IHF, FHLC, XHS, PSCH, RYH, PTH, XHE, DRGS, RXD
    | Apr. 17, 2014, 1:30 PM
  • Apr. 17, 2014, 8:04 AM
    • In a novel cancer study funded with $42M by Cancer Research UK, scientists will test up to 14 different cancer drugs at the same time within one clinical trial. The objective is to identify the most effective treatments for advanced lung cancer by targeting specific rare genetic mutations.
    • The new approach will select a range of drugs for a specific patient instead of designing a study around a specific drug. In a profound change it eliminates randomization, the hallmark of clinical trial design.
    • Some mutations occur on only 1% - 2% of patients so the traditional method of clinical trial design is too expensive, time-consuming and inefficient.
    • AstraZeneca (AZN) will supply up to twelve experimental drugs that will be given to patients who do not show one of twenty-one sets of genetic abnormalities.
    • Pfizer (PFE) will supply its lung cancer drug Xalkori plus the experimental breast cancer drug palbociclib.
    • About 15-20 patients will be involved in the trial. Those drugs that show no benefit will be quickly dropped while those showing efficacy will be fast-tracked into larger-scale testing.
    • Healthcare ETFs: IYH, IBB, XLV, XBI, BIB, VHT, PJP, BBH, FBT, PBE, XPH, CURE, FXH, IHE, RXL, PPH, BIS, FHLC, PSCH, RYH, PTH, DRGS, RXD
    | Apr. 17, 2014, 8:04 AM
  • Apr. 17, 2014, 7:27 AM
    • In a breakthrough in fertilization research, scientists identify the surface proteins that enable a sperm cell and egg cell to fuse together to form an embryo.
    • Juno is the name given to the egg's protein and Izumo the sperm's.
    • Researchers are now screening infertile women to determine if the absence of Juno is the problem. Twenty percent of infertility cases are of unknown origin.
    • If the absence of Juno is, indeed, the cause of infertility then a simple diagnostic test can be developed to identify affected women.
    • A woman's Juno status will also guide fertility treatment by allowing in vitro fertilization specialists to proceed directly to intracytoplasmic sperm injection.
    • Researches identified Izumo in 2005 but couldn't identify Juno until recently.
    • Healthcare ETFs: IYH, XLV, VHT, CURE, FXH, RXL, IRY, IXJ, FHLC, PSCH, RYH, PTH, RXD
    | Apr. 17, 2014, 7:27 AM
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