71.2 F
San Diego
Tuesday, Jul 23, 2024
-Advertisement-

So Long and Thanks for All the Health Care, Biotechnology News

(Editor’s note: This is the final column on biotechnology and health care from Meghana Keshavan, who leaves the San Diego Business Journal as of this issue to join a national online publication focused on innovation in the health care industry.)

Dear readers, I’ve been given free rein to wax rhapsodic about this region’s health care and biotechnology industries. I’ll try and keep my simpering at a minimum and focus on some of the more interesting stories and trends I’ve seen, along with others I project will make an impact on the San Diego life sciences scene, starting with…

Initial public offerings: The IPO brigade began a little over a year ago. And despite a blip in the biotech markets, it appears to be continuing strong. Just this issue, I wrote about how Pfenex Inc. filed for a $75 million IPO (see Page 3). There have been more than a dozen life sciences IPOs in the past year and change in San Diego, largely among small biotechs. This is particularly helpful to smaller biotechs that have outgrown venture funding but still need steady influxes of cash, and I’d expect that more and more smaller companies will go public.

• • •

Mergers and acquisitions: The biotech industry in San Diego is rife with M&A activity. I once wrote about sitting on a plane next to a Bay Area venture capitalist, who referred to San Diego’s biotechs as “snapups” as opposed to “startups.” By that he meant the small, innovative companies here tend to be snapped up by the big fish once they start proving they can swim. I see this most with the private companies, but freshly minted public companies are fair game also. So keep your eyes peeled for good early investment opportunities with these companies.

• • •

Genomics: Illumina Inc. really differentiated itself from the chaff this past year, with its crowning achievement — to date — of bringing the cost of sequencing the entire human genome to less than $1,000. Companies have been racing to that goal for more than a decade, and Illumina was the first to hit that once-lofty benchmark.

Illumina (Nasdaq: ILMN) made that announcement in January, and since then, other huge genomics-related news has emerged. J. Craig Venter, for example, launched Human Longevity Inc. with a whopping $70 million in Series A funding. That’s not so common, folks. Its basic conceit is to prolong the human lifespan by burrowing into the intricacies of the human genetic structure, decoding the factors that lead to disease and aging. Hope they’ve got that figured out in time for me to live forever. But, in all seriousness, the genomics space has really exploded in San Diego, and I expect there will be more to come.

• • •

Affordable care: The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as many refer to it, hit its stride during my tenure at the Business Journal. When I first started reporting about the ACA in December 2012, the climate among brokers, hospitals, physicians and consumers was murky. “The calm before the storm” was what brokers called 2013, before all hell broke loose in 2014. It doesn’t seem to have played out that way, however. Sure, there have been glitches — the federal insurance exchanges were a touch nightmarish — but by and large the payors and providers appear to have rallied. Businesses haven’t seen huge change — yet — in their premiums, though I’m not holding my breath on that one. A delay in the employer mandate for health insurance has left some businesses breathing easy for now, but it’s still a wait-and-watch game to see whether the naysayers have been right all along.

• • •

Hospital and health care leadership turnover: There have been some noteworthy management changes recently. Palomar Health CEO Michael Covert, for instance, just announced his departure. Also notable was the departure of Mary Ann Barnes of Kaiser Permanente, who transferred from her top role in San Diego to one in Hawaii; she was replaced by Jane Finley.

But the most headline-grabbing change was the ousting of Tri-City Medical Center’s former CEO, Larry Anderson. Anderson was fired by the Tri-City board for a laundry list of reasons — they’re sitting here on my otherwise empty desk — the most egregious including reports that he compelled then-Chief Financial Officer Alex Yu to change the hospital’s financial statements. Eek. After a nationwide search, the hospital recently appointed Tim Moran as its new CEO, and it will be interesting to watch whether it is able to turn its old reputation on its head. Its marketing efforts of late have been extensive and aggressive, and I’m seeing perception of the hospital subtly shift. I wish them well.

There’s so much more, but I have a finite amount of real estate available in this column. Nevertheless, the past 18 months have reinforced for me, and hopefully for you, dear reader, that San Diego boasts an extremely vibrant and innovative life sciences sector — and a community that seems to appreciate its significance. The science that comes out of these companies is nothing short of magical. And as someone who has spoken to many a health care analyst, I can vouch that the hospitals here are first rate.

The science of life. It’s a sexy space. I can’t believe they let me print that.
Send news about locally based health care organizations, biotechnology and clean-tech to tquesada@sdbj.com.

-Advertisement-

Featured Articles

-Advertisement-
-Advertisement-

Related Articles

-Advertisement-
-Advertisement-
-Advertisement-