Dispensed: Big Pharma’s plans to compete with buzzy startups, Sanofi’s entrance to the coronavirus vaccine race, and a Medicare Advantage pitch deck

Hello,

Welcome to Dispensed, Business Insider’s weekly healthcare newsletter. This week’s edition is being written in sunny Palm Springs, California, though regrettably sent out back in chilly New York. 

Are you new to the newsletterYou can sign up here. 

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Proof I was somewhere warm this week!

Lydia Ramsey/Business Insider


The big story I want to highlight this week came from a tag-team between Andrew Dunn and me.

We got the scoop on Dermatology.com, the website pharmaceutical company Bausch Health (remember Valeant Pharmaceuticals?) is using to get in on the trend of startups that are prescribing and shipping medication straight to your door. 

Ever since I first started hearing about companies like Roman, Hims, or Nurx, I’ve been thinking it’d only be a matter of time before drugmakers themselves see this as a new way to reach patients. And when they do get interested, who are the companies they’ll need to work with to pull that off? 

What Bausch is doing with its dermatology drugs gives us a good idea of what we might expect. 

Big Pharma just started copying the buzzy startups that ship Viagra and hair-loss pills to your door, and it could be the start of a ‘mega-trend’

  • The pharmaceutical company Bausch Health is now selling prescription drugs online to treat conditions like acne, wrinkles, and eczema.
  • The $9 billion drugmaker is following a strategy similar to buzzy startups like Roman and Hims, which use online doctor visits to prescribe Viagra and hair-loss pills online.
  • “I believe that we are ahead of a mega-trend here,” Bill Humphries, president of Bausch’s Ortho Dermatologics business, told Business Insider.
  • Dermatology.com is tapping the healthcare technology startup RxDefine to facilitate virtual visits with medical professionals.

Haven’t jumped on the BI Prime wagon yet? You can use my link here to get 20% off your BI Prime subscription. 

Earlier in the week, I got my hands on the pitch deck Troy Medicare’s using to raise its series B. As more companies look to jump into the Medicare Advantage market, it was interesting to get a look at the startup’s pharmacy-specific approach.

We got a look at the slide deck a health insurance startup is using to raise $25 million for its bet that pharmacists can help it take on the red-hot Medicare Advantage market

Continuing my deep-dive into the financials of primary care companies, I spoke to the team at Privia Health about its approach to taking the primary care business national. 

Here’s an exclusive look at the financials of Privia, an under-the-radar upstart taking on the primary care industry

As a reminder: Want to talk financials? Show me your pitch deck? I’m all ears! You can find me at [email protected].

Andrew spent some time up at Intercept Pharmaceuticals’ Hudson Yards offices here in New York. There, he spoke with CEO Mark Pruzanski about what’s ahead, should the company become the first drugmaker with an approved treatment for NASH, a liver condition that affects millions of Americans. 

Intercept Pharmaceuticals CEO Mark Pruzanski

Intercept Pharmaceuticals CEO Mark Pruzanski

Intercept Pharmaceuticals


How a $3 billion biotech escaped a ‘graveyard of failures’ in the race to launch the first-ever drug for a silent disease that strikes millions

Come for the origins of Intercept, stay for Andrew’s comprehensive analysis of the tough-to-crack market and why Pruzanski thinks he can turn Intercept’s NASH drug into a blockbuster. 

Andrew also has the latest on the race to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus. On Tuesday, Sanofi jumped in the fray as well. 

Here’s a closer look at the pharma giant’s approach. 

Pharma giant Sanofi is developing a vaccine to fight the deadly coronavirus outbreak using its previous research on SARS

I also wanted to highlight a story from our cannabis fellow, Yeji Lee. She took a close look at a CBN, or cannabinol, the latest cannabis compound companies are pitching to try and crack into the wellness industry.

The twist: CBN right now is 7X more expensive than CBD. 

There’s a hot new cannabis compound that claims it’ll help you sleep better. Meet CBN, which is chasing a $1 billion-plus market.

With that, I’ll leave you to your weekends. I’m headed out to Colorado this weekend to see some snow and get some skiing in. Next week, you can look forward to Andrew’s debut Dispensed hitting your inbox. 

In the meantime, you can always find me at [email protected], or you can reach the whole healthcare team (please do while I’m out!) at [email protected].

– Lydia 

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