Cigna reports strong fourth quarter, shrugs off potential impact of drug rebate rule proposal

FierceHealthcare | February 01, 2019

Insurance giant Cigna posted strong year-end results following its merger with Express Scripts. Cigna pulled in $49 billion in revenue for the year, a 15% increase over 2017. Its income from operations was $3.6 billion or $14.22 a share, up more than 30% over $2.7 billion, or $8.77 a share, in 2017. While the year-end results did not meet analysts expectations, Cigna reported a strong fourth quarter with $14.3 billion in revenue for the quarter ending Dec. 31, up more than 35% compared to revenue of $10.6 billion in the same quarter of 2017. The insurer reported earnings of $647 million, or $2.46 a share in the fourth quarter, up 33% from $483 million, or $1.83 a share in the fourth quarter of 2017. Revenue, customer, and earnings growth were driven by continued innovation across the business, said David Cordani, president and chief executive officer, in a statement.

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This is one of a series of short films intended to explore some of the challenges presented by medical appraisal conversations, and to encourage you to consider helpful behaviours, strategies, and mind-sets for these important meetings. The purpose of this scene is to explore how we can encourage doctors to reflect on their practice during an appraisal conversation.


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FUTURE OF HEALTHCARE

M1 MedTech Accelerator Program Opens Applications to Early-Stage Medical Device Companies

M1 MedTech | April 05, 2022

M1 MedTech, a medical technology accelerator sponsored by Proxima Clinical Research, a contract research organization based out of the Texas Medical Center, announcedit is accepting applications for its fall cohort. M1 MedTech is looking for five to seven of the most promising early-stage medical device companies to participate in its three-month program. The program has closed its first fund and will be selecting companies over the summer for investments up to $100,000 as a combination of both cash and in-kind services. “Our program is unique in that it combines acceleration capital, company building expertise, and the regulatory and clinical services of a top CRO,” says Larry Lawson, a venture partner and investor with M1. “Access to the M1 founders’ network, both within and outside of the Texas Medical Center, sets these companies up for success. There’s no better group to build a MedTech company with, period.” “Many MedTech companies are launched by innovative first-time founders with strong scientific and medical expertise, but who have never taken a regulated product to market or built a business. After working with so many companies at various stages of this journey to market, both with Proxima CRO and with accelerators from across the country, we realized there was a gap that needed to be filled for these rising founders. They not only need regulatory and clinical assistance from experts with hundreds of success stories in this field, we found they also need assistance with design, manufacturing, business, IP, and so much more,” says Isabella Schmitt, RAC, Director of Regulatory Affairs for Proxima CRO and Principle at M1. “These rising founders need to know what they don’t know; so, we put a lot of thought into what emerging companies and rising executives really need, and from that, we built the M1 curriculum.” M1 MedTech was created to support early-stage medical device companies, offering an immersive experience that provides tangible benefits to participating companies. The program will take on a limited number of enterprises in each cohort and offer a direct approach to helping founders advance their companies and technologies. The coaching process will include a curated educational program, interactive workshops where participants can continually build out specific company deliverables, and tailored one-on-one mentoring. “This is a very personalized program for early-stage companies focused on Class II and III medical devices,” said Sean Bittner, PhD, ACC, Director of Programs at M1 MedTech. “We’re excited to welcome our first cohort this August. The medical device companies that fit best with our program are in pre-seed or seed-stage, have completed a customer evaluation, know the issues they want to address, have not progressed far enough through the pipeline to have communicated with the FDA or completed preclinical or clinical testing,” says Bittner. “We would like the companies to have completed preliminary testing but have not gone too far into the product development phase.” “This is a fantastic opportunity for an early-stage company to receive mentoring and guidance from a group of established individuals in the life sciences industry. The hands-on 12-week workshop curriculum will cover a variety of topics including company formation and management, preclinical and clinical testing, regulatory approval, among other necessary guidance as their companies begin to mature. We are excited to aid the founders in rapidly advancing toward commercialization and prepare them for critical early investment stages.” Kevin Coker, CEO at Proxima CRO and Principal at M1 MedTech Experts from Greenlight Guru, Medrio, Galen Data, and Merge Medical Device Studio join Proxima CRO as sponsors of the program and will assist with content delivery and mentoring. Applications will remain open until May 31. About M1 MedTech M1 MedTech is an accelerator/incubator designed to build MedTech companies. The program offers capital, entrepreneurial expertise, and CRO services, as well as an immersive experience offering a hands-on approach to guide founders as they become MedTech executives and advance their companies and technologies. The coaching process includes a curated educational program with a focus on regulatory and quality dynamics, one-on-one mentoring, and interactive workshops where participants can continually build out specific company deliverables.

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FUTURE OF HEALTHCARE

GeneQuantum and AIMEDBIO Collaborate on a First-in-Class Antibody -Drug-Conjugate

GeneQuantum Healthcare | April 19, 2022

GeneQuantum Healthcare Co., Ltd., a company specializing in site-specific bioconjugation for next generation biotherapeutics, has signed an agreement with a Korean biotech company, Aimed Bio Inc., to co-develop a First-in-Class therapeutic antibody drug conjugate (ADC). Aimed Bio, a spin-off company from Samsung Medical Center, is focusing on developing innovative antibody-centric drugs for brain diseases with few treatment options. Additional details were not disclosed. GeneQuantum focuses on next generation Antibody Drug Conjugate development. Taking advantage of the proprietary 'Ligase Dependent Conjugation' technology platform, which allows a site-specific conjugation of cytotoxins or other type of payloads to antibodies, the company has successfully developed a robust pipeline with more than 10 assets, with several at or approaching clinical stage. In addition to expanding the unique technology platform, the company has entered into a number of partnerships with domestic biotech/pharmaceutical companies and international partners. The growing number of partnerships speaks to the power of the GeneQuantum platform technology for not only improving key therapeutic characteristics of existing molecules, but also for creating new classes of molecules, ultimately increasing the number of available treatment options for patients worldwide. GeneQuantum is excited about the significant potential of partnerships with business partners and will continue to expand its deal pipeline in the antibody drug conjugate and protein therapeutic market. The collaborating ADC is a first-in-class asset with highly differentiated antibody against a unique target, a stable linker design and a novel payload with a strong by-stander killing effect. The resulting ADC is expected to treat brain and other cancers with huge unmet needs. "As an innovative antibody+ company, we look for complementary partners to maximize value of our platform technology. Aimed Bio not only has differentiated antibody acting on a unique target but also has deep knowledge and expertise in the field of brain tumor & CNS diseases. This collaboration is based on an excellent match between the two companies to generate a FIC ADC. Through close partnership, we are thrilled to bring revolutionary therapy for those patients without efficient treatment at this moment." Dr. Gang Qin, the Founder & Chairman, CEO of GeneQuantum Dr. Dohyun Nam, the Founder & Chairman, CTO of Aimed Bio and internationally renowned neurosurgeon with 32 years of experience in brain tumor & CNS diseases commented: "Aimed Bio has been successfully expanding its R&D pipeline for the past 2 years, and I am pleased to start this collaboration with GeneQuantum. After evaluating the data, the linker-payload and conjugation technology GeneQuantum provides proved to be very safe and effective. With the best antibody and brain tumor expertise of Aimed Bio, I believe the collaborating ADC will bring a tremendous impact on the field. We look forward to initiating clinical trial as soon as possible." About GeneQuantum Healthcare Co., Ltd. GeneQuantum Healthcare Co., Ltd. is a high-tech biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the development of innovative biotherapeutics. The company is focused on the development of a next generation of bioconjugate therapeutics to meet the unmet medical needs of cancer patients globally. For more information, visit www.genequantum.com. About AIMEDBIO Inc. AIMEDBIO is a spin-off company from Samsung Medical Center established in August 2018. AIMEDBIO aims to provide therapeutic solutions to patients with serious brain diseases, including neuro-oncological and -degenerative diseases, to save patients' lives and improve patients' quality of life. Based on solid global networks with key opinion leaders in the field, an excellent research team with profound achievements, and R&D pipelines with an outstanding drug development platform, AIMEDBIO is an emerging leader for development of innovative therapeutics against diverse brain diseases.

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FUTURE OF HEALTHCARE

House Rx Secures $30 Million in Financing to Improve the Specialty Pharmacy Experience for Patients and Their Care Teams

House Rx | March 15, 2022

House Rx, a health technology platform focused on improving affordability and patient access to specialty medications, announced it has secured $25 million in Series A financing led by Bessemer Venture Partners, bringing total funding to $30 million. House Rx's technology platform and pharmacy service enable specialty practices to offer medically-integrated dispensing, which means patients can receive both their physician and pharmacy care from one team, collaborating on a unified technology platform. Since it launched in March 2021, House Rx has partnered with four medical specialty practices and 30 prescribers in California and Washington. "We have a simple idea: partner with specialty clinics all over the country to enable medically integrated dispensing where the physician, pharmacist, nurses and techs can work together as one team, under one proverbial roof, to improve patient care. Our vision for the future of specialty pharmacy is a more local, more collaborative, and ultimately a more affordable system that leads to much better outcomes for patients." Ogi Kavazovic, CEO and a co-founder Specialty medications, which include treatments for cancers, rheumatic diseases and other chronic and acute conditions, are some of the most expensive drugs available. Unlike infused therapies which are administered in the clinics, the burden of specialty medication access and adherence often falls on patients, who typically need to battle several large bureaucracies to gain access to their medications. These often lead to multi-week delays in treatment and much lower adherence rates compared to medications administered in clinics. Currently, specialty medications are mainly dispensed via mail by a patient's insurance company, not their doctor or a pharmacy a patient chooses. A growing body of research demonstrates that when patients obtain timely access to cancer treatments directly from their care team, they have better outcomes, including improved quality of life and increased survivability. House Rx currently has over 30 employees, who are mostly software engineers and pharmacy operations. In addition to Bessemer Venture Partners, First Round Capital, Character.vc, and 1984.vc participated in the Series A funding. First Round Capital led the seed round as the initial investor alongside Khosla Ventures, Maverick Ventures, and 1984.vc. The funding from this latest round will go towards continued investments in House Rx's technology platform and scaling pharmacy operations. "The specialty pharmacy market is in much need of a new approach - the current system severely lacks in patient choice and innovation, and we think House Rx's vision for a more modern, more decentralized approach will have incredible impact," said Steve Kraus, Partner, Bessemer Venture Partners. "Bessemer is proud to back a company with a mission to ultimately make it easier and more cost effective for patients to get the treatment they need." In addition to Kavazovic, the health technology start-up was co-founded by Tesh Khullar, who serves as the company's President. Kavazovic and Khullar are former Flatiron Health executives, where they gained experience working closely with hundreds of oncology clinics. The company's Chief Pharmacy & Operating Officer is Denali Cahoon, PharmD, who is a former executive at Trellis Rx. "The antiquated pharmacy systems developed decades ago inhibit coordinated patient care and increase costs. The current system also prevents patients from choosing where they can get their medically prescribed life-sustaining therapies," said Tesh Khullar, President and a co-founder. "We started House Rx to make the medically integrated dispensing model the new normal in specialty pharmacy. With the right technology, and the right distribution partners, we can re-establish the partnership between physicians and pharmacists that brings a new level of transparency and patient care." House Rx's technology platform helps prescribers and pharmacists collaborate more effectively via one integrated system. Built based on in-depth feedback from pharmacists and physicians, the platform is designed specifically for the management of specialty medication, and includes built-in analytics to enable continuous improvement in operational efficiency and quality of care. The specialty medical practices that have already partnered with House Rx include Care Oncology Center, California; Sarcoma Oncology, California; Arthritis Northwest Washington; and Northwest Medical Specialties, Washington. About House Rx House Rx is a technology-enabled service company focused on making specialty medication more accessible and affordable. We do so by helping clinics dispense specialty medications to their patients in a medically-integrated way using pharmacist expertise and modern technology. By helping physicians and pharmacists collaborate on patient care, we're able to improve patient outcomes, lower the cost of care, and create a better experience for patients and their caregivers.

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FUTURE OF HEALTHCARE

Change Healthcare and Optum Extend Merger Agreement

Optum | April 06, 2022

Optum, a diversified health services company, and Change Healthcare a health care technology leader, have agreed to extend their merger agreement to December 31, 2022. “The extended agreement reflects our firm belief in the potential of our combination to improve health care, and in our commitment to contesting the meritless legal challenge to this merger.” In a joint statement, the companies Change Healthcare and Optum share a vision for achieving a simpler, more intelligent and adaptive health system for patients, payers and providers. The combination of Optum and Change Healthcare will connect and simplify the core clinical, administrative and payment processes health care providers and payers depend on to serve patients. Increasing efficiency and reducing friction will benefit the entire health system, resulting in lower costs and a better experience for all stakeholders. Change Healthcare and Optum will detail the benefits of this combination at a two-week trial scheduled to begin on August 1. The U.S. Department of Justice’s attempt to block the combination is without merit and serves only to delay improving the experience and outcomes for all participants in the health system. As part of the extension, Optum will pay a $650 million fee to Change Healthcare in the event the merger is unable to be completed because of the court’s decision. Change Healthcare will pay a special cash dividend of $2.00 per share to its shareholders at or about the time of the closing. About Optum Optum is a leading information and technology-enabled health services business dedicated to helping make the health system work better for everyone. With more than 190,000 people worldwide, Optum delivers intelligent, integrated solutions that help to modernize the health system and improve overall population health. Optum is part of UnitedHealth Group. About Change Healthcare Change Healthcare is a leading healthcare technology company focused on insights, innovation, and accelerating the transformation of the U.S. healthcare system through the power of the Change Healthcare Platform. We provide data and analytics-driven solutions to improve clinical, financial, administrative, and patient-engagement outcomes in the U.S. healthcare system.

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Spotlight

This is one of a series of short films intended to explore some of the challenges presented by medical appraisal conversations, and to encourage you to consider helpful behaviours, strategies, and mind-sets for these important meetings. The purpose of this scene is to explore how we can encourage doctors to reflect on their practice during an appraisal conversation.

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