From Stat

Teladoc Health Reaches Agreement to Buy Livongo in a $18.5 Billion Deal

August 5, 2020

Telemedicine provider Teladoc Health has reached an agreement to buy the diabetes coaching company Livongo in an $18.5 billion deal that will create the first true health tech giant — in an era in which demand for virtual care is surging.

The merger agreement, announced on Wednesday morning, is expected to create a combined company on track to bring in $1.3 billion in revenue this year, up 85% over last year. Jason Gorevic, Teladoc’s current CEO, will be the CEO of the newly combined company, which will be called Teladoc and will be based in New York. The transaction is expected to close by the end of this year, pending approval of regulators and shareholders.

Telemedicine provider Teladoc Health has reached an agreement to buy the diabetes coaching company Livongo in an $18.5 billion deal that will create the first true health tech giant — in an era in which demand for virtual care is surging.

The merger agreement, announced on Wednesday morning, is expected to create a combined company on track to bring in $1.3 billion in revenue this year, up 85% over last year. Jason Gorevic, Teladoc’s current CEO, will be the CEO of the newly combined company, which will be called Teladoc and will be based in New York. The transaction is expected to close by the end of this year, pending approval of regulators and shareholders.

Both companies have seen their stock prices soar during the pandemic, reaching all time highs this week. Livongo’s share price is nearly six times higher than it was at the start of 2020, and Teladoc’s has tripled in that period….

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‘A Huge Experiment’: How the World Made So Much Progress on a Covid-19 Vaccine So Fast

July 30, 2020

Never before have prospective vaccines for a pathogen entered final-stage clinical trials as rapidly as candidates for Covid-19.

Just six months ago, when the death toll from the coronavirus stood at one and neither it nor the disease it caused had a name, a team of Chinese scientists uploaded its genetic sequence to a public site. That kicked off the record-breaking rush to develop vaccines — the salve that experts say could ultimately quell the pandemic.

Never before have prospective vaccines for a pathogen entered final-stage clinical trials as rapidly as candidates for Covid-19.

Just six months ago, when the death toll from the coronavirus stood at one and neither it nor the disease it caused had a name, a team of Chinese scientists uploaded its genetic sequence to a public site. That kicked off the record-breaking rush to develop vaccines — the salve that experts say could ultimately quell the pandemic.

The colossal impact of the coronavirus is motivating the speed, opening a spigot of funding and inspiring research teams around the world to join the hunt. But the astonishing pace of the progress is also a consequence of the virus itself: It is, scientifically speaking, an easier target for potential vaccines than other pathogens, and a prime candidate for cutting-edge vaccine platforms new to scientists’ toolkits….

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This Is Supposed to Be Telemedicine’s Time to Shine. Why Are Doctors Abandoning It?

June 25, 2020

Telemedicine — the delivery of care by a clinician in one location to a patient in another — is seen as a vital component of the nation’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization have urged physicians and other health care providers to use telemedicine, and both the federal government and private health plans have implemented numerous temporary regulatory and payment changes to facilitate its use.

Physicians initially responded to these changes. Based on a sample of more than 50,000 clinicians who are clients of Phreesia, a health care technology company where two of us (D.L. and H.H.) work, we saw a sudden and dramatic rise in telemedicine (see the chart below). From almost no telemedicine visits before the pandemic struck in the U.S., by early April almost 14% of the usual weekly number of pre-pandemic visits were being conducted via telemedicine.

Telemedicine — the delivery of care by a clinician in one location to a patient in another — is seen as a vital component of the nation’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization have urged physicians and other health care providers to use telemedicine, and both the federal government and private health plans have implemented numerous temporary regulatory and payment changes to facilitate its use.

Physicians initially responded to these changes. Based on a sample of more than 50,000 clinicians who are clients of Phreesia, a health care technology company where two of us (D.L. and H.H.) work, we saw a sudden and dramatic rise in telemedicine (see the chart below). From almost no telemedicine visits before the pandemic struck in the U.S., by early April almost 14% of the usual weekly number of pre-pandemic visits were being conducted via telemedicine. The assumption among many was that, after witnessing the benefits of telemedicine, physicians and patients would embrace it and growth would continue….

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Major Study Finds Common Steroid Reduces Deaths Among Patients With Severe Covid-19

June 18, 2020

A cheap, readily available steroid drug reduced deaths by a third in patients hospitalized with Covid-19 in a large study, the first time a therapy has been shown to possibly improve the odds of survival with the condition in the sickest patients.

Full data from the study have not been published or subjected to scientific scrutiny. But outside experts on Tuesday immediately embraced the top-line results. The drug, dexamethasone, is widely available and is used to treat conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and some cancers.

A cheap, readily available steroid drug reduced deaths by a third in patients hospitalized with Covid-19 in a large study, the first time a therapy has been shown to possibly improve the odds of survival with the condition in the sickest patients.

Full data from the study have not been published or subjected to scientific scrutiny. But outside experts on Tuesday immediately embraced the top-line results. The drug, dexamethasone, is widely available and is used to treat conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and some cancers.

In a statement, Patrick Vallance, the U.K. government’s chief scientific adviser, called the result “tremendous news” and “a ground-breaking development in our fight against the disease.” Scott Gottlieb, a former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, called it “a very positive finding” in an interview on CNBC. “I think it needs to be validated, but it certainly suggests that this could be beneficial in this setting….”

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Immunity to the Coronavirus Remains a Mystery. Scientists Are Trying to Crack the Case

June 11, 2020

Scientists stress that just because someone has recovered from Covid-19 and produced antibodies to the coronavirus does not mean they are protected from contracting it a second time. No one’s yet proven that.

That, then, leaves open the question: What does immunity look like?

Experts anticipate an initial coronavirus infection will lend people some level of immunity for some amount of time. But they still don’t know what potpourri of antibodies, cells, and other markers in a person’s blood will signify that protection. And determining those “correlates of protection” is crucial both so individuals can know if they are again at risk, and so researchers can understand how well potential vaccines work, how long they last, and how to accelerate their development….

Scientists stress that just because someone has recovered from Covid-19 and produced antibodies to the coronavirus does not mean they are protected from contracting it a second time. No one’s yet proven that.

That, then, leaves open the question: What does immunity look like?

Experts anticipate an initial coronavirus infection will lend people some level of immunity for some amount of time. But they still don’t know what potpourri of antibodies, cells, and other markers in a person’s blood will signify that protection. And determining those “correlates of protection” is crucial both so individuals can know if they are again at risk, and so researchers can understand how well potential vaccines work, how long they last, and how to accelerate their development….

Read the full Stat article