Neuralink moves closer to human trials of implanted brain chips

Elon Musk’s human-computer interface medical technology company has begun hiring a clinical trials director. In other news, CVS Caremark has settled a PBM fee issue with the Oklahoma Department of Insurance; questions about the scientific director of GSK; and biotech stocks are a “dumpster fire”.

USA Today: Elon Musk’s Neuralink set to implant chips in human brain

Elon Musk’s Neuralink has begun recruiting a clinical trial director, bringing him closer to developing technology that could connect the human mind directly to devices. Neuralink’s goal is to build what’s called a “brain-computer interface” that allows people to transmit and receive information between their brain and a computer wirelessly, according to the Neuralink website. (Shen, 01/23)

In other pharma and biotech news —

Modern healthcare: CVS Caremark agrees to pay transaction fees

The Oklahoma Department of Insurance has reached a settlement agreement with CVS Caremark regarding the transaction fees the Pharmacy Benefits Manager charges pharmacists to process Medicare Part D and Group Health Plan claims , the agency announced on Thursday. The CVS Health subsidiary will pay $4.8 million to settle alleged violations of the state’s Patients’ Right to Pharmacy Choice Act. CVS Caremark will pay $2.3 million in compensation to pharmacies and $2.5 million in penalties to the state. (Devereaux, 1/21)

Stat: Has veteran drug developer Hal Barron done his job at GSK?

So here’s the big question for Hal Barron as he leaves GlaxoSmithKline: has he accomplished his mission? The mission, in simple terms, was to turn GSK Laboratories around when he was hired as Chief Scientific Officer four years ago. At the time, the British drugmaker was struggling to develop new drugs, with its pipeline not exactly flush. Now Barron is leaving, after announcing on Wednesday that he would take a CEO role at a new company called Altos Labs, backed by an incredible $3 billion in investor pledges and focused on “cellular rejuvenation programming.” “. What about GSK then? (Herper, 1/24)

Stat: Biotech stocks are a dumpster fire. An analyst explains what is happening

Amid a pandemic that has proven the biotech industry has the power to help save the world, one can be excused for not realizing that the industry is actually going through a tough time on Wall Street. The value of a widely followed biotech stock index fund, the BWI, is down 23% from a year ago. But that doesn’t even tell the whole story as it’s dominated by bigger companies like Moderna, whose shares are, of course, powerfully benefiting from its Covid vaccine. Another index fund, the XBI, which tracks small and mid-sized biotech companies, has lost nearly 43% over the past year. (Feuerstein, Tirrell and Garde, 1/24)

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