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Best of the Blogs, Biotech: SCOTUS Affirms Constitutionality of Obamacare Insurance Mandate


Plus, growing mobile medical app market earns the ire of FDA.

This column highlights the most interesting and useful biotech news from around the Web every Thursday.

Link: Supreme Court Ruling Leaves Pharma Fees Intact
"In a landmark ruling, the US Supreme Court upheld the individual insurance mandate at the heart of the Affordable Care Act, which was the centerpiece of healthcare reform. For drugmakers and biotechs, the outcome means a degree of predictability, even though they will face billions of dollars in price cuts and fees. The initial reaction among investors was to send drug and biotech stocks down (here is the Supreme Court ruling).

"'Today's decision means that the impact of the ACA on pharma will change little,' Ian Spatz, a senior advisor to Manatt Health Solutions and a former vp for public policy at Merck (MRK), tells us." (For more on the ruling, see: UnitedHealth, WellPoint Fall, While HCA, Tenet Rally on Obamacare Court Decision.)

Kaiser Health News
Link: FDA Seeks To Tame Exploding Medical App Market
"Want to monitor your blood pressure and sugar level? Eat healthier meals? Screen yourself for depression? Find out if you need glasses? Now you can do it all with apps on your smartphone.

"In fact, there are 40,000 medical applications available for download on smartphones and tablets-and the market is still in its infancy. But that growth is in the crosshairs of new regulatory efforts from the Food and Drug Administration."

The Seattle Times
Link: FDA Clears First New Weight-Loss Pill in 13 years
"The Food and Drug Administration has approved Arena Pharmaceutical's (ARNA) anti-obesity pill Belviq, the first new prescription drug for long-term weight loss to enter the U.S. market in over a decade.

"Despite only achieving modest weight loss in clinical studies, the drug appeared safe enough to win the FDA's endorsement, amid calls from doctors for new weight-loss treatments."

Food Integrity Campaign
Link: Carcinogenic Coke? Ammoniated Coloring in Soda Creates Cancer-Causing Chemical
"As the health debate over soda continues, new test results reignite concerns regarding manufactured ingredients commonly used in soft drinks and other processed foods. It was enough that mercury has been found in products with high fructose corn syrup thanks to industrial processing, but now industrially produced caramel coloring (ubiquitous in soda to create a more appealing, dark color) has been linked to a carcinogen known as 4-MI.

"The Center for Science in the Public Interest ([or] CSPI) found 'alarming levels' of the cancer-causing chemical 4 methylimidizole (4-MI) in Coca-Cola (COKE) drinks around the world. It forms when a solution of sugars is heated with ammonia to make the artificial brown coloring, which is also used in baked goods, soy sauces, gravies and beer."

Link: Another Loss for New Jersey Life Sciences
"Roche's (RHHBY) recent announcement that it will be closing its venerable Nutlley, NJ R&D site is the latest in a string of mergers and reorganizations that have resulted in the loss of thousands of life-sciences jobs from New Jersey, and an exodus of both R&D and manufacturing from a state known as the home of big Pharma. The mergers of Wyeth with Pfizer (PFE) and Schering Plough with Merck were among the highlights of a decade that has seen a dramatic contraction in the pharmaceutical industry as a whole. According to BioNJ, 17 of the top 20 pharma companies have a presence in New Jersey, and because the presence was so large to begin with, the effects of the contraction on the New Jersey economy have been acutely felt."

The IN VIVO Blog
Link: Things Mike Pearson Has Learned
"It's always interesting to hear Mike Pearson, the blunt CEO of Valeant (VRX), expound on how nimbly his company is responding to Pharma's complicated business environment. At an analyst meeting on June 21-coincidentally the last day of BIO 2012 – he took a few minutes for reflection on Valeant's current strategy, as well as lessons learned from his four years at the helm: Only compete in attractive markets, defined as those in which competition is manageable and overall sales are growing."
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