Insurer WellCare Doubles Profit Amid Higher Membership
In the meantime, Tenet Healthcare loses less after it acquires Vanguard Health Systems, Pfizer looks again to woo AstraZeneca into a purchase and Bayer AG moves to buy Merck's consumer business.
The Wall Street Journal: WellCare Earnings Surge On Revenue, Membership Growth
WellCare Health Plans Inc. said first-quarter profit more than doubled as the health insurer posted stronger revenue and increased membership rolls. The company raised its adjusted earnings forecast for the year, now expecting $4.40 to $4.75 a share, from its prior view of $3.75 to $4.05 a share. The increased guidance came mainly from factoring in the company's better-than-expected first quarter results, as well as an improved outlook for the Medicaid Health Plans segment (Rubin, 5/6).
The Wall Street Journal: Tenet Healthcare Loss Narrows, Buoyed By Admissions Trend
Tenet Healthcare Corp. said its first-quarter loss narrowed on stronger revenue that was boosted by its Vanguard Health Systems acquisition. "Aided by our extensive preparations to serve the newly insured patient populations under the Affordable Care Act, we achieved a broadly-based improvement in our admissions trend in the first quarter," said Trevor Fetter, president and chief executive officer. "The strengthening volume trend was particularly pronounced in the states that expanded their Medicaid programs" (Stynes, 5/5).
The New York Times: Profits Off, Pfizer Again Aims To Lure AstraZeneca
As the drug maker Pfizer announced a 15 percent drop in first-quarter earnings on Monday, its chief executive renewed his call for its British rival AstraZeneca to accept Pfizer’s offer to buy it. Pfizer has aggressively pursued AstraZeneca since January — raising its offer to more than $106 billion as recently as Friday — but so far AstraZeneca has rejected its advances, saying the bids are too low. On Monday during a conference call with analysts, Ian Read, Pfizer’s chief executive, described Pfizer as in a “position of strength” (Thomas, 5/5).
USA Today: Germany’s Bayer AG To Buy Merck’s Consumer Biz For $14.2 Billion
In the latest deal in the pharmaceutical space, Germany-based Bayer AG is acquiring Merck’s consumer care business, which includes well-known brands like Claritin, Afrin and Coppertone, for $14.2 billion. The deal means Bayer will get a list of well-known U.S. brands that sell at pharmacies with the hope of expanding their sales to a broader global clientele (Shell, 5/6).
Meanwhile, here's more on Sovaldi -
The San Francisco Chronicle: $1,000 Hepatitis C Pill A Tough Miracle To Swallow
Three decades ago, Scott Barnes needed luck to survive the bullets and bombs of the Vietnam War. Today, his life depends on a beige, $1,000 pill. Hailed as a breakthrough treatment for hepatitis C, Sovaldi could help more than 130 million people across the globe who suffer from the disease. Barnes believes he became infected during the war, when he received a blood transfusion laced with the virus. "It's one thing to take a bullet or lose a leg," said Barnes, 59, whose disease is so advanced he's bought a grave and a plaque to go with it. "But it's another thing when you have a disease that's a killer and there's no cure." To people like Barnes, Sovaldi is a miracle drug. But patients may face a long wait for the miracle, if they get it at all (Lee, 5/5).
Earlier, related KHN coverage: Who Should Get Pricey Hepatitis C Drugs? (Appleby, 5/5); VA, California Panels Urge Costly Hepatitis C Drugs For Sickest Patients (Appleby, 4/17); and There’s a Life-Saving Hepatitis C Drug. But You May Not Be Able To Afford It. (Appleby, 3/3).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.