Health Care Sector Update and Outlook


Dennis Hearns: Early in 2019, when Elizabeth Warren was leading in the polls for the democratic nomination, the market was not kind to the health care sector. And then in early 2020 pre-COVID, president Trump was leading in the presidential polls and health care was performing quite nicely. Now the presumptive democratic candidate is Joe Biden and he has a rather sizable lead in the polls. How would a Biden presidency impact the health care sector? Teresa McRoberts: It's actually a very difficult question. Unlike a traditional election year, I mean, because of COVID, Vice President Biden has really not been out to campaign. Hasn't really been out talking much about his plan. And I will tell you that we have calls with various Washington people and no one really seems to know what Biden is likely to do. Biden has historically been a centralist and someone who liked to have more bipartisan deals as opposed to very partisan deals. He likes to work across the aisle. He does have long standing relationships with senators. He was in the Senate for a long time. And so he's tended to be a centrist. The question is given the environment right now with all the shutdowns and informants and COVID, with the concerns about social injustice as well as a democratic base that is much more liberal, does he feel pulled to the left? For as many people as I hear talk and say he will be pulled to the left, I hear an equal number of people who say he is at heart a centrist. So I guess the answer is, I don't know how he's going to act. The most important thing is whether or not the Senate flips if he becomes president. So and whether or not the Senate will flip will determine a lot about president Biden and what the policies can be. In the Senate, you do have to have 60 votes, but there's some things they can get through with simply 51 votes. And there is a half dozen seats that could flip from republican to democratic. And so I think that will determine how far left his policies go. We know that he wants to expand access. He wants to shore up the ACA. He's talked about a public option. He has been very clear that he's not interested in Medicare for all. But I feel we don't really know and maybe we'll get more on the campaign trail. Health care is always a very powerful issue for the Democrats. So what are they going to do? Go on the campaign trail, say, I’m going to lower your health care costs more than the other guy.

That's very hard to know. I wish I knew, and I guess we'll learn more during the course of the election.

Dennis Hearns: Fair enough. Operator, can we go to the audience for Q&A?

Speaker Question: In the first five minutes of the call, you mentioned that the race to bring the vaccine to market is political. And I'm just curious, it seems like the companies that are working on the vaccine are competitive companies. They're capitalists, they're looking to be the first, and certainly if I was president or you were president, you'd probably want to help the citizens, not only in the United States, but around the world. I'm just curious why you would say that was political. Thank you. Teresa McRoberts: I think the most difficult issue that it's going to require someone to sort out is how much safety data do you need for a vaccine? Historically, we have required immense amount of safety data for something that is going to be used in billions of people, 330 million people in the U.S. Some of whom are not all that healthy. That is a hurdle or hurdles in the past for the amount of data we need for vaccines is very extensive and this is going to be a decision. We are not going to have 100,000 people trials to know what is the one in 100,000 safety events that can happen. There've been several vaccines in the last, however many years, that once they got into people, they discovered these rare side effects and a rare side effect when you give it to millions of people, isn't as rare when it’s, one in 10,000, one in 100,000. So that is the question. And what is that rare side effect? So that is why this is going to be a political decision because somebody is going to have to decide what is the safety cutoff? We're going to know the efficacy, but if you want me to have 10,000 people, are we really going to know what those rare, potentially extremely serious safety events are? Or somebody's going to just say, okay, we're happy to do that. And I don't know if you want to add, CJ? CJ Sylvester: Yeah. Well, that's entirely the point. It's just a safety call. Typically it's three or four years of safety that are needed in tens of thousands of patients. And we're just not going to have that.

Conference Call 6/8

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