Merging company

Owning medical practices becomes a bigger business

A medical office building owner merges with another to create a $10 billion company. In other healthcare industry news, a digital mental health start-up secures funding and a gene therapy company spin-off looks troubled.

The Wall Street Journal: Healthcare Realty Trust nears deal with Healthcare Trust Of America

Healthcare Trust of America Inc., which owns and operates medical office buildings across the country, is in advanced talks to partner with smaller rival Healthcare Realty Trust Inc. in a deal that could create a company worth over $10 billion. A cash and stock deal could be finalized early next week, people familiar with the matter said, although talks could still break down. Details of the potential transaction could not be learned. The expected move would culminate in a months-long sales process led by Healthcare Trust of America. (Lombardo and Hoffmann, 02/24)

Axios: Scoop: Virtual Mental Health Company Paraclete Secures $1.5M Pre-Seed Funding

Paraclete, creator of a virtual mental wellness offering for employers, has raised $1.5 million in pre-seed funding from Sovereign’s Capital and several individual investors, company founder Vineet said. Rajan, at Axios exclusively. Behavioral health is a growing sub-sector of the digital health market, and Paraclet targets people with mental health needs other than depression, ADHD or anxiety, the most commonly treated conditions. (Brodwin, 2/24)

Stat: Amicus Spinout Denouement Creates More Problems For Gene Therapy Field

The abrupt breakup of a white merger on Thursday points to more problems for the already deflated field of gene therapy. Amicus Therapeutics has canceled a planned spin-off of its gene therapy division through a combination with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC. The $600 million deal, announced five months ago, would have created a new publicly listed gene therapy company called Caritas Therapeutics. But on Thursday, Amicus and its partner SPAC called off the merger, citing “unfavorable market conditions” for new biotech funding, as well as an “increasingly challenging environment for standalone gene therapy companies.” (Feuerstein, 02/24)

Stat: Intellia CEO talks about the future of in vivo gene editing

In 1996, 32,655 Americans died of AIDS. A year later, that number was 16,685. The difference? Protease inhibitors — drugs that stopped HIV from replicating inside human cells. Acting at record speed, the Food and Drug Administration approved three such drugs in 1996 – the products of a high-intensity race between scientists at Merck, Roche and Abbott Laboratories. “I kind of feel the same energy now, all these years later,” said John Leonard, a former National Institutes of Health virologist who led Abbott’s work on his first-generation AIDS drug, during of a STAT virtual event on Thursday. Now president and CEO of Intellia Therapeutics, Leonard joined STAT Senior Medical Editor Matthew Herper to discuss the pace of clinical progress in genome editing. “That’s the nature of adventure,” Leonard said. “Thinking about 1979, 1980, things that were inconceivable then are commonplace today.” (Molteni, 2/24)

Bangor Daily News: Maine healthcare workers say patients are assaulting them more than ever before

Maine healthcare workers say they are being attacked by patients more than ever, leaving lasting physical and psychological injuries. That’s why more than 60 staff at Maine Medical Center in Portland, represented by the Maine State Nurses Association union, staged a protest outside the hospital on Thursday, some presenting a petition to hospital president Jeff Sanders. (Marino Jr., 2/24)

Billings Gazette: Regional Mental Health Coalition Expresses Frustration Over Drug Connection Operations

Leaders of the South Central Montana Regional Mental Health Center, a coalition of eastern Montana counties providing mental health resources throughout the region, are frustrated. The chairman of the health center’s board of directors and its executive director met with the three Yellowstone County commissioners on Thursday and expressed concerns about the operation of Billings-based Substance Abuse Connect for the past six months. (Rogers, 2/24)

Los Angeles Times: Doctors and nurses charged with fraud at Medicare Hospice

They were supposed to be near death and in desperate need of end-of-life care to relieve their pain. Authorities, however, say many patients were not dying, but simply unwitting pawns in a sophisticated Medicare fraud scheme devised by two Inland Empire couples who received more than $4.2 million in federal reimbursements. State prosecutors say the couples ran two hospice businesses and paid doctors and others for false diagnoses or illegal bribes for patient referrals — charges that reflect the type of Widespread palliative care fraud detailed in a 2020 Los Angeles Times industry survey. (Christensen and Poston, 2/24)

Also –

KHN: Healthcare companies have been pushed to confront racism. Now some are investing in black startups

Tennessee – Marcus Whitney stands out in Nashville’s $95 billion healthcare sector as an investor in startups. In addition to co-founding a venture capital firm, he hosted an annual health technology conference and co-founded the city’s professional soccer club. And, often, he’s the only black man in the room. So in the summer of 2020, as Black Lives Matter protesters filled city streets across the country following the murder of George Floyd, Whitney reflected on the racial inequalities that are so evident in her industry — particularly at the local level. (Farmer, 02/25)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news outlets. Sign up for an email subscription.