Category Archives: Health Tech

Novartis Agrees to Purchase Cholesterol Manufacturer for $97 Billion

Novartis has agreed to pay $85 per share for The Medicines Company, which developed a new drug to fight against high cholesterol levels in people. The $9.7 billion cash deal acquiring the US drug maker is a bet that Inclisiran, is a “potentially transformational medicine.” There are millions of patients all over the world whose risk of cardiovascular disease is increased because of high levels of cholesterol in their blood.

“We believe that Inclisiran could contribute significantly to improved patient outcomes and help healthcare systems address the leading global cause of death,” Novartis chief executive Vas Narsimhan said.

Swiss-based Novartis has a market value of $203 billion. It has been growing recently in a similar way to many other big pharma companies, via disposals and takeovers.

The Medicines Company presented the results of a successful trial of Inclisiran, which lowers cholesterol in a unique way. Through the use of injections administered every few months, the drug lowers the production of “bad cholesterol” by inhibiting a protein that controls its production. This gene-silencing method of therapy is known as RNA interference, and although it has been around for decades, drugs using this methodology of treatment have been improving in recent years.

Professor Shlomo Ben-Haim Offers Inventors Advice

In a recent edition of IP Pro Life Science Tammy Facey interviewed Professor Shlomo Ben-Haim of the Hobart Group to find out how he became such a successful entrepreneur. Entitled “Invent, Protect and Keep Going,” the article offers insights about the path that an entrepreneur might take and the skills needed to succeed in the business world.

When asked why he decided to become an entrepreneur, Shlomo Ben Haim responded that he never decided, per se, to become an inventor. Rather, he had a drive to make things better and he has always wanted to develop tools to help himself and his peers to improve how they treat patients.

Professor Ben Haim was asked what role patents and IP have played in the development of his companies and inventions. In response, Ben Haim said, “Intellectual property has always played a crucial role in the success of companies I co-founded. I consider IP an asset to advance my companies’ business goals. It is the heart of any licensing and mergers and acquisitions transaction, especially in the life science filed, which requires high investments.”

Asked specifically about cardiology and why it demands so much innovation, Professor Ben-Haim explained that this space demands innovation since they are dealing with the human body that no one fully understands. As he said, “The more we learn, the more new ideas are created on how to treat it.”

Certainly, anyone interested in becoming a prolific inventor like Professor Shlomo Ben Haim would appreciate advice. When asked how a new inventor could get his invention to be a success, he offered a number of suggestions. He said that people need to make sure there is a need for their invention in the market. If there is, the inventor should then protect the invention and use the resources available today. He explained that these include “technology transfer companies, online professional networks and expert advisers” to bring the idea to reality. He suggested that the inventor network in the relevant areas and he emphasized that the inventor should not discount his own perspectives.

For the full interview with Professor Shlomo Ben Haim see page 8 of IP Pro Life Sciences.

Shire Buys Foresight Biotherapeutics

Dublin-based Shire announced its all-cash purchase of privately held Foresight Biotherapeutics, expanding the pharmaceutical company’s ability to develop medicine against viral and bacterial forms of conjunctivitis.

UK-listed Shire has been increasing its investment in eyecare while also pushing for approval from regulators for its own treatment for dry-eye disease, lifitegrast.

“Ophthalmics is a highly attractive growth area for Shire and this acquisition allows us to strengthen our presence,” said Flemming Ornskov, Shire chief executive.

Foresight’s drug, known as FST-100 is a perfect companion medicine to lifitegrast for a pharmaceutical company. If both obtain approval for use then together they will “address two of the leading reasons people seek eyecare treatment,” Mr Ornskov said.

Last year Shire created a dedicated opthalmics division, separate from its main business selling treatments for rare diseases and attention deficit Hyperactivity disorder.

Shire purchased Foresight for $300 million as it’s stock is trading at near-record prices of £57.30, considerably more than the £52.48 per share that AbbVie of the US tried to pay last year in its takeover bid, which eventually fell through.

Able Planet Bringing Affordable Hearing Aids to the Market

Kevin Semcken Photo by Mary Semcken via Bloomberg

Electric hearing aids were developed around the time of the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century. In all those years no one was ever able to create a hearing aid that would be affordable and effective for many people who suffer from hearing loss, until now.

Affordable and Efficacious Hearing Aids

Based in Colorado, Able Planet is a manufacturer of headphones, but they are planning on launching a new line of amplification devices designed to do the job right. Beginning in March Able Planet will release their first new product of this type, the Personal Sound AMP. A band holds the device in place within the ear, into which it fits perfectly, as its dimensions are smaller than the size of a dime.

Able Planet estimates that the device will cost about $800 for a pair, favorably competitive with traditional hearing aids which often cost thousands of dollars. Due to the prohibitively high cost only 9 percent of seniors who need hearing aids in the US who make less than $50,000 a year actually own a pair, according to a 2010 survey conducted by a medical devices research firm called Parks Associates.

Serial Entrepreneur

Chief Executive Officer Kevin Semcken bought Able Planet six years ago. Semcken is 52 years old and has bought built and sold seven medical technology companies over the years, as a serial entrepreneur and private investor.

Semcken bought Able Planet when it was mired with debt problems and multiple design lawsuits, but it hasn’t stopped him from continuing to lead the charge into the hearing aid market.

Although it is true that Able Planet’s income today derives mostly from sales of its consumer headphone products, the company was originally founded to be a source of the manufacture of hearing devices. It has been the expense of research and development made it a prohibitive undertaking financially during the doldrums of the recession.

One Percent of Market Share

Ninety percent of Able Planet’s $30 million in revenue in 2011 came from its consumer electronics. The products are sold on-line and in retail outlets such as Costco in the US and in Mexico and Japan. Able Planet, which is headquartered in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, competes with the likes of Bose, Monster Cable Products and Sony, industry leaders in the $900 million domestic market for stereo headphones. Ben Arnold, and audio and video industry analyst at market research firm NPD Group says that Able Planet has about 1 percent of the market share for stereo headphones.

Watson Pharmaceuticals Just Keeps Going Up


Helping Your Health

Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc. (WPI) is a company specializing in urology and women’s health pharmaceutical products. The company sells both generic brands as well as name brands. Women’s health care comprises many different diseases which of course requires many types of medicines. Watson has three segments: Global Brands, Global Generics, and the distribution segment. One of the benefits of producing generic medicine is that as soon as the original patent expires, the well tested and well used drug can be manufactured by anyone and with no R&D costs. The company provide medications for a wide variety of health conditions so there is great demand for its products.

The amazing thing about this stock is that for the last two years it has been going up at a steady pace. It has been essentially unaffected by the market ups and downs. It’s the old story: People will always get sick and will always need medical cures.

Some of the directors and management staff  are  Sigurdur Oli  Olafsson, Charles M. Mayr, and Michael J. Fedida.

As with all investment decisions, purchasers should thoroughly investigate the stock before purchasing and should follow the stock every day.