Pharma: Novartis’ $4 million drug
Novartis executives may soon try to sell the world’s most expensive drug, a $4 million gene therapy to treat spinal muscular atrophy, said John Carroll in Endpoints News. The company bought the maker of the drug, biotech firm AveXis, last year for $8.7 billion. The only rival therapy costs $750,000 for the first year of treatment, then $375,000 each additional year. Even if Novartis fails to the hit $4 million price tag, it could be angling to open the door to drugs that cost $1 million, “once considered a jaw-dropping, break-the-bank sum.”
Buffett: No bargain companies to acquire
Warren Buffett–led Berkshire Hathaway this week disclosed a sizable $928 million buyback of its own stock, said Nicole Friedman in The Wall Street Journal. Spending money on a stock buyback instead of acquisitions shows that the legendary CEO sees “a dearth of appealing investment options.” Buffett, a “value investor best known for striking deals when prices are low,” last made a big purchase in 2016, when his company bought Precision Castparts Corp. for about $32 billion. He’s not alone. U.S. companies have repurchased a record amount of their own stocks this year—after the tax-law overhaul.
Government: SF’s new tax on Big Tech
San Francisco voters this week approved a contentious initiative that could raise $300 million for homeless services by taxing the city’s biggest companies, said Kevin Fagan in the San Francisco Chronicle. The Prop C initiative pitted billionaire against billionaire in the city, where homelessness has gotten worse as tech has boomed. Salesforce founder Marc Benioff spent $7 million to support Prop C. Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, by contrast, argued that the tax, which hits companies with annual revenue of more than $50 million, would “tamp down growth in the city and wasn’t thought out well enough.”
Sports: Under Armour says no more strip clubs
Under Armour this week promised to fix its company culture after revelations of company-paid strip club outings, said Julia Horowitz and Nathaniel Meyersohn in CNN.com. Earlier this year, the athletic-wear firm told employees that “it would no longer reimburse certain expenses, including adult entertainment and gambling.” The email raised questions of why the company had allowed employees to expense “adult entertainment” at all. Though Under Armour promotes partnerships with “prominent female athletes” women who worked there said they found the environment demeaning.