What a week for biotechs Drop into bear territory


Biotechnology stocks deepened their rout Friday, sinking more than 5 percent, and heading for their worst day since April 10, 2014, as fears continued to wrack the industry over pressure on drug prices.

The Nasdaq Biotech Index entered bear market territory, off 22 percent from its July high.

“As we started to get orders from our clients, they’re saying, ‘God, I don’t want to sell these things, but I’ve got to take some off,'” David Seaburg, head of sales trading at Cowen and a CNBC Fast Money trader, said by telephone Friday. “It’s the names that were up so much that people are using as a source of funds.”

A pledge by Hillary Clinton earlier this week to put a stop to what she called outrageous price gouging in the specialty drug industry, coupled with a global outcry over one small company’s 5,000 percent overnight price increase on a 60-year-old drug, have sent the Nasdaq Biotech Index plunging.

Read MoreControversial drug CEO was accused of serious ‘harassment’

“There’s the fear of the sector losing its pricing, which is a pillar of why this sector is on fire,” Seaburg said. “It’s out there in a sector that’s overheated.”

Biotech names getting the most clobbered Friday included gene therapy company Bluebird Bio, down 12 percent; cancer company Seattle Genetics, down 11 percent; and liver disease company Intercept Pharmaceuticals, down 9.7 percent. Among the biggest names, Gilead Sciences was down more than 2 percent, Amgen 3 percent, Biogen nearly 4 percent and Celgene more than 5 percent.

The moves are “just a freak out,” said Robert W. Baird analyst Brian Skorney. “When consensus sees valuation as high but folks are positive on news flow, some negative news flow causes people to freak out.”

Overall, biotech fund outflows totaled $416 million in the week through Wednesday, according to a Friday note from Raymond James. That amounted to a 0.61 percent decrease in assets, in the fourth week of outflows in the past seven.

“I’m not hearing that there’s a thematic or fundamental change here,” Seaburg said. “This is absurd; it’s setting up as one of the best buying opportunities into year-end and people are going to look back and say, ‘Why didn’t I take advantage of that?'”

Drug prices Which companies may be the next targets


The heat remained on biotech and pharmaceutical companies Monday as drug-pricing strategies remained under close scrutiny.

Valeant shares tumbled nearly 14 percent after Congressional Democrats pressed a Republican committee chairman to subpoena the drugmaker to turn over documents related to the pricing of Nitropress, a congestive heart failure treatment, and Isuprel, another heart drug. The company purchased the rights to both drugs and immediately hiked prices, the letter said.

Valeant is only the latest drugmaker being eyed over pricing practices. Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli was lambasted last week by medical groups, a presidential candidate and his own industry for raising the price of a 62-year-old drug by 5,000 percent.

He reversed course under pressure Tuesday night, but not before the national attention struck fear into the hearts of biotech investors over increased scrutiny of drug prices, sending stocks plummeting.

Turing may have been an egregious example, but it’s not the only one raising eyebrows for skyrocketing price tags. Bernstein analyst Ronny Gal pointed out many companies ratchet up drug prices when the market presents an opportunity.

“They take drugs that have largely been underpriced before—or that’s the way they’d call it,” Gal said in a telephone interview. “They buy a drug that does not have good alternatives and they raise the price sky-high. And because it’s very hard to say no to those patients; because there’s no alternative, people cover this.”

Gal pointed to three examples: Jazz Pharmaceuticals’ drug Xyrem, Questcor’s Acthar and Mylan’s EpiPen.

All three of these stocks were trading lower Monday, with Jazz and Mylan down 8 percent and Mallinckrodt, the parent of Questcor, down 11 percent. This was against broader selling in the sector. The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF fell 7.3 percent.

“We believe it is critical to hold drug companies to account when they engage in ‘a business strategy of buying old neglected drugs and turning them into high-priced’ ‘specialty’ drugs,’ ” the Democrats wrote in the letter sent to House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Jazz Pharma’s Xyrem

Jazz, an Ireland-domiciled company, acquired Xyrem in 2005 in its $122.6 million purchase of Orphan Medical. The drug was approved in 2002 for daytime sleepiness and sudden attacks of muscle weakness, or cataplexy, in people with the sleep disorder narcolepsy.

The company reported revenue from Xyrem of $29 million in 2006, the first full year after its acquisition. Last year, Jazz posted Xyrem revenue of $778.6 million.

While the company said it’s expanded the number of patients the drug treats, the cost also increased an average of 29 percent a year from 2011 to 2015, according to data distributed this week by Evercore ISI analyst Mark Schoenebaum.

Jazz didn’t immediately comment.

Questcor’s Acthar

H.P. Acthar Gel was initially approved in 1952, the year before Turing’s Daraprim, the subject of this week’s controversy. It treats infantile spasms and exacerbations of multiple sclerosis in adults, among other indications, and its price, The New York Times reported in 2012, hopped one day in 2007 to $23,000 a vial, from $1,650.

The increase attracted scrutiny, but not enough to stop Questcor from continuing to raise the price. Between February 2007 and June 2015, data from Bernstein show, the drug’s cost rose by more than 19 times.

Why don’t insurers fight back? Gal said the company’s developed a strategy to usher the drug through the reimbursement process.

“The way Acthar is sold is they basically go through an exception process,” Gal said. “The doctor would use basically everything else before Acthar and then would use that when the patient ran out of other options. The company has a specialty person they hire that does as much of the paperwork for the doctor as they can, to work through the insurance company’s exception process to get the drug approved.”

Questcor was acquired by Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals last year for $5.6 billion.

“Physicians carefully weigh therapy choices—some less expensive than Acthar, some more expensive—in determining the appropriate treatment for their patients,” said Rhonda Sciarra, a spokeswoman for Mallinckrodt. “As a responsible drug company, Mallinckrodt offers patient assistance programs to facilitate appropriate access to the drug, and has donated several hundred million dollars’ worth of Acthar to patients in need.”

Mylan’s EpiPen

EpiPen, used in emergency treatment for life-threatening allergic reactions, is sold by Netherlands-based drugmaker Mylan. The price, according to data from Evercore ISI, increased 27 percent a year, on average, from 2011 to 2015, to more than $300 each dose.

Meanwhile, prescriptions for EpiPen rose 9.5 percent, on average, each year from 2011 to 2014, according to data from IMS Health. Sales in that time, the data show, rose an average of 42 percent a year, to more than $1 billion.

Mylan spokeswoman Nina Devlin said both sets of numbers are “higher than the actual numbers,” but she declined to provide specifics.

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The company added that it doesn’t set the final retail cost of its products charged to patients, as this is often determined by the insurance coverage of the patient. Also, the company has programs to make the drug more accessible to some patients, including some that provide it at no cost.

Those programs, coupled with the company’s outreach, has resulted in a 67 percent increase in the number of EpiPen patients over the past seven years, Mylan said.

“Mylan has worked tirelessly over the past years advocating for increased anaphylaxis awareness, preparedness and access to treatment,” Devlin said. “As the leaders in this space, our efforts are aimed at benefiting those living with life-threatening allergies, and we take this leadership position seriously.”

Many drug companies offer similar programs, which assist patients with insurance coverage in paying their co-payments.

“It’s very hard to tell parents you can no longer get EpiPen,” Bernstein’s Gal said of the price increase. “You try to do that as an insurer.”

Even with the rising number of patients and price, EpiPen, whose brand has become synonymous with allergies, isn’t on the list of the top-grossing drugs in the U.S. That list is reserved for medicines like Gilead’s Sovaldi and Harvoni, for hepatitis C, Otsuka’s Abilify, for depression, and AbbVie’s Humira, for rheumatoid arthritis. Each brought in more than $7 billion in 2014 sales in the U.S. alone, IMS data show.

The focus on drug prices, though, is only likely to intensify as the presidential election heats up—another reason Turing’s Shkreli has found himself an industry pariah.

(Update: This story, originally published Thursday, was updated to include news tied to Valeant Pharmaceuticals. Comments from Mylan were added Thursday.)

Gene test finds which breast cancer patients can skip chemo

Many women with early-stage breast cancer can skip chemotherapy without hurting their odds of beating the disease—good news from a major study that shows the value of a gene-activity test to gauge each patient’s risk

The test accurately identified a group of women whose cancers are so likely to respond to hormone-blocking drugs that adding chemo would do little if any good while exposing them to side effects and other health risks. In the study, women who skipped chemo based on the test had less than a 1 percent chance of cancer recurring far away, such as the liver or lungs, within the next five years

Harry Sieplinga | Photographer’s Choice | Getty Images

“You can’t do better than that,” said the study leader, Dr. Joseph Sparano of Montefiore Medical Center in New York. An independent expert, Dr. Clifford Hudis of New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, agreed.

“There is really no chance that chemotherapy could make that number better,” he said. Using the gene test “lets us focus our chemotherapy more on the higher risk patients who do benefit” and spare others the ordeal.

The study was sponsored by the National Cancer Institute. Results were published online Monday by the New England Journal of Medicine and discussed at the European Cancer Congress in Vienna

The study involved the most common type of breast cancer – early stage, without spread to lymph nodes; hormone-positive, meaning the tumor’s growth is fueled by estrogen or progesterone; and not the type that the drug Herceptin targets. Each year, more than 100,000 women in the United States alone are diagnosed with this.

The usual treatment is surgery followed by years of a hormone-blocking drug. But many women also are urged to have chemo, to help kill any stray cancer cells that may have spread beyond the breast and could seed a new cancer later. Doctors know that most of these women don’t need chemo but there are no great ways to tell who can safely skip it.

A California company, Genomic Health, has sold a test called Oncotype DX since 2004 to help gauge this risk. The test measures the activity of genes that control cell growth, and others that indicate a likely response to hormone therapy treatment.

Past studies have looked at how women classified as low, intermediate or high risk by the test have fared. The new study is the first to assign women treatments based on their scores and track recurrence rates.

Of the 10,253 women in the study, 16 percent were classified as low risk, 67 percent as intermediate and 17 percent as high risk for recurrence by the test. The high-risk group was given chemotherapy and hormone-blocking drugs. Women in the middle group were randomly assigned to get hormone therapy alone or to add chemo. Results on these groups are not yet ready – the study is continuing.

But independent monitors recommended the results on the low-risk group be released, because it was clear that adding chemo would not improve their fate.

After five years, about 99 percent had not relapsed, and 98 percent were alive. About 94 percent were free of any invasive cancer, including new cancers at other sites or in the opposite breast.

“These patients who had low risk scores by Oncotype did extraordinarily well at five years,” said Dr. Hope Rugo, a breast cancer specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, with no role in the study. “There is no chance that for these patients, that chemotherapy would have any benefit.”

Dr. Karen Beckerman, a New York City obstetrician diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011, said she was advised to have chemo but feared complications. A doctor suggested the gene test and she scored very low for recurrence risk.

“I was convinced that there was no indication for chemotherapy. I was thrilled not to have to have it,” and has been fine since then, she said.

Mary Lou Smith, a breast cancer survivor and advocate who helped design the trial for ECOG, the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group, which ran it, said she thought women “would be thrilled” to skip chemo.

“Patients love the idea of a test” to help reduce uncertainty about treatment, she said. “I’ve had chemotherapy. It’s not pretty.”

The test costs $4,175, which Medicare and many insurers cover. Others besides Oncotype DX also are on the market, and Hudis said he hopes the new study will encourage more, to compete on price and accuracy.

“The future is bright” for gene tests to more precisely guide treatment, he said.

Getting the Best Dental Care

Dental health and care must be given top priority. It is just as important to choose a high quality dental clinic for your family as it is to choose the general practitioner to handle your general health needs, or the specialists who will handle specific aspects of your overall health. This is because the oral health of your family will determine how good their smiles look, thus having a great impact on their level of confidence and self-esteem. Dental issues can also deteriorate to very serious and debilitating levels if not treated promptly and accordingly. In looking for the best dental clinic to patronize, you should have certain features at the forefront of your mind.

Things to Look Out for as You Choose

A good dental clinic can become a known oral health provider to a lot of people through word of mouth. With this in mind, it is easier for everyone to locate a clinic that is highly recommended by a lot of people. When you are searching for a clinic, you need to consider its reputation as can be inferred from its popularity and the number of people that patronize the place. A good reputation can be your assurance that you are in good hands.

When looking at a clinic, you must be certain that its doctors are skilled enough to provide dental services. You must always confirm that the clinic’s dentists are licensed doctors. There are dentists who specialize in certain fields in dentistry, and ideally, the clinic should have highly specialized doctors in the field in which you are going to be needing treatment.

There are dentists who specialize in teeth whitening; others are skilled in dental implants. But no matter what kind of service you need, it is always wise to choose a clinic that can offer a wide array of dental services, from tooth extraction to dental implants. This is important so that you do not have to keep going from clinic to clinic when you need a particular type of work done on your teeth. There is nothing as convenient as a one-stop shop.

Before you make a choice when searching for the best dental clinic in Dubai, you must be sure that it has complete facilities and amenities. The use of modern equipment and tools can also assure you of a reliable dental service. Clinics must also be regularly maintained when it comes to cleanliness and sanitation to ensure everyone’s safety.

Finding the Best Clinic

You can find a very good dental clinic by asking friends and family. These people will likely give you honest and unbiased opinions that will likely be very valuable to you in your search. You can also make use of the Internet to conduct research about any clinic you are considering. This includes going through clinics’ websites to be certain of the services they provide, and also checking for reviews about them.


Breast Implants from Stem Cells

There are numerous documented complications due to breast implants. Despite this, breast augmentation has been constantly among the top cosmetic surgical procedure in the U.S. based on statistics released by organizations of American plastic surgeons. This shows that women are empowered to make decisions regarding their body. However, there are still those who want to improve the appearance of their breasts, but are afraid of or dislike artificial implants. With the development of stem cell technique, natural breast implants are now more realistic.

Stem Cell Breast Augmentation Explained

Breast augmentation with the use of stem cell is a breakthrough procedure that Japan has been using for half a decade now. The general use of the treatment was on women who have undergone treatments for breast cancer. However, it has been recently used on breast augmentation of healthy women.

In a stem cell breast augmentation, the breast size is increased through extraction of patient’s own fat along with stem cells from one part of the body and injecting them into the breast tissue. The stem cells play an important role in the technique as they ensure that the fats extracted from other parts of the body will stay alive during the process of transfer. The treatment can increase the breast size to one to two cup sizes.

Advantages of Using Stem Cell Breast Implants

Breast implants from stem cells is a promising treatment because it provides numerous advantages as compared to the traditional silicone implants. Some of its advantages are:

  • It is a less invasive procedure.

Traditional breast implants often cause complications like capsular contraction, which happens when the breast tissue detects foreign objects in the breast and as a result, hardens around the implant. Complications are eliminated with stem cell implants since they are autologous or from the patient’s own body.

  • It affords a natural effect.

Because of the stem cell implants, the breast tissue will feel and appear natural. Everyone will find the result appealing as the breast implants will have similar kind of softness like the natural breast tissue.

  • It helps reduce fat in a part of your body.

Using stem cell breast implants is like hitting two birds with one stone. You can increase your breast size, and at the same time, reduce fatty deposits funds in other parts of your body. The notorious stomach fat is a good candidate for the purpose.

Candidates for Stem Cell Breast Implant

Despite the benefits of the stem cell treatment, not everyone is a candidate for it. Here are some things you must consider:

  • You must be in a good general health.
  • You must be willing to quit smoking during the procedure and recovery period.
  • You have realistic expectations.
  • The treatment requires more than one procedure to achieve your desired results.
  • The treatment is costly.
  • Finally, you must have an adequate amount of fat in your body.

Dr. Gregory H. Croll is the owner of his own practice, and the leading doctor for plastic surgery Columbia MO has to offer.


How Does Spinal Decompression Work?

When you suffer from long-lasting and chronic back pain, you may wonder if you will ever find any relief to your pain and discomfort. There are numerous different treatments available to help you with your chronic back pain and each one has their benefits and drawbacks. One of these treatment options for back pain is something known as spinal decompression. Before you make any major decisions about your future back pain treatment, get to know more of the facts about spinal decompressions so that you can better decide if this is the right treatment option for you. Then, you can schedule your appointment with a spine specialist right here in Newark, Delaware for treatment to get your back feeling better as soon as possible.


What Is Spinal Decompression?

There are two different forms of spinal decompression therapy available to treat back pain. These are surgical and non-surgical decompression.  Non-surgical spinal decompression is a form of traction that is used to essentially immobilize and then stretch out and carefully manipulate the spine to relieve pressure. Surgical spinal decompression, on the other hand, is a more permanent solution and may involve the removal of bone growths, spinal discs, or portions of the bones in the spine to reshape the spine and ease the pressure causing pain.


How Does Spinal Decompression Work?

Non-surgical spinal decompression works by dealing with any misalignments in the spine and slowly stretching the spine to change the way it is aligned and the ways that pressure is distributed. This stretching is designed to alter the way that the impact of walking and moving and the force exerted on the spine occurs to relieve pressure from the spinal discs that can become compressed and cause pain.

Surgical spinal decompression, on the other hand, is a more aggressive form of treatment for chronic back pain and discomfort. It works by removing the presumed source of the pain and attempting to restructure a portion of the spine to prevent the pressure from recurring and causing pain and discomfort. Depending on the situation causing your back pain and the severity of the condition, this can simply involve removing a herniated or slipped disc that has moved out of position and is therefore being compressed. It can also involve removing bone spurs or abnormal growths on the vertebrae or shaving down the bones of the skin to relieve pressure.

Now that you know a bit more about the two forms of spinal decompression, you can better determine if these treatment options are appropriate for you and your back pain.

Walking is Our New Favorite Pastime

People talk a lot about getting more exercise. One of the first things you hear people say is that they are going to join a gym. I don’t know about you, but that would turn me off of exercising altogether. I do not want to be inside walking on a treadmill. Those things make my legs fell like rubber. I do not like them. I enjoy all the advantages of a daily walk on real outdoor surfaces. I like the sunshine in my face, and I even enjoy a rainy day walk. There are not very many people out when it is raining. My wife absolutely enjoys walking in the rain. Our dog does not mind it either. She just literally shakes it off. The only thing that holds me back from walking outdoors is extremely cold days. I’m not a fan of the frigid weather. Continue reading “Walking is Our New Favorite Pastime”

The Efficiency of Electronic Borrowing

This is a financial solution that you can go with. It is easier and more efficient for you. This is so much easier even if with the short term payment. Those who want to know more about the electronic loan, you can kindly visit http://www.topratedcashloans.net/electronic-borrowing.

Some people who live with bad credit background might be hard to get the loan again. It is known that most of financial institutions of banks will deny those who have poor credit background since it is not included in the requirements to get the loan. However, it does not mean that live just stops at it, those of you who have bad credit can still get the loan through another way. Now, the money lenders join the advance of internet technology that makes the people possibly get the loan. No matter how your credit background is, this is so much easier to deal with.

The development of technology affects the way of applying the loan as well. You can even find so many lenders on the internet. It is aimed to make the people easier to find the best lender that they go to. Moreover, some people are turning to this online loan than applying to the financial institution or bank. Through the online loan, you are allowed to apply for a loan even with poor credit background. All the things that you need is only internet connection and your laptop and you do not need to move to any other places just to find the best lender that you like to apply.

Unlike applying to the several mainstream loans, such as bank or financial institution that you will go with uncertainty in applying the loan, this online loan makes you possibly get the bigger chance. Yes, no matter how your conditions as long as you get the reliable job with your payday monthly, it makes them put a trust on you. All the things that you have to do is search for the lender by quotes and select the one that you think it is the best money lender.

In selecting the lender, you need to understand about all the terms and conditions before applying for loan. Each lender has different rules and payment terms so it is better for you to get it first. When you are done, then you can fill up the form on the internet and upload the documents they require on the website. Then, you need to wait for the verification as soon as possible. After all, the lender will send you an email telling about the confirmation about the loan application that you get whether the requirement has been completed or not.

On the other hand, when you are granted by the lenders, they will send the money to your bank account. So, how the payback will do? It will be cut from your monthly payday from the same bank account automatically. In addition, the lender will also write a check for you about the amount of the loan.