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Medicaid growth helps insurer Anthem beat Q2 expectations

Medicaid growth helps insurer Anthem beat Q2 expectations

Anthem topped second-quarter expectations even though the health insurer’s profit tumbled as patients who hunkered down last year at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic started seeking care againBy TOM MURPHY AP Health WriterJuly 21, 2021, 1:37 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleINDIANAPOLIS — Anthem topped second-quarter expectations even though the health insurer’s profit tumbled as patients who hunkered down last year at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic started seeking care again.Growing enrollment in government-funded programs like Medicaid and Medicare Advantage helped Anthem balance the jump in care use. The Blue Cross-Blue Shield insurer also booked more revenue from its IngenioRx business, which runs pharmacy benefits.Overall, Anthem said Wednesday that its net income fell 21% to $1.79 billion, and adjusted earnings totaled $7.03 per share. Operating revenue, which excludes investment income, rose 14% to $33.28 billion.Analysts expected, on average, earnings of $6.34 per share on $33.15 billion in revenue, according to Zacks Investment Research.Indianapolis-based Anthem Inc. covers more than 43 million people in several states, including big markets like New York and California. Its IngenioRx business also brought in about $6.2 billion in revenue during the quarter.Health insurer profits soared last year after the pandemic set in and patients canceled or postponed elective surgeries and other non-COVID-19 care. But insurance executives predicted that much of this care would eventually take place.Anthem’s benefit expense jumped 27% in the recently completed second quarter to nearly $25 billion. But enrollment in state and federally funded Medicaid plans that Anthem manages climbed 19% to 9.7 million people.That was helped partly by a suspension of state attempts to recertify the eligibility of people with Medicaid coverage during the pandemic.Anthem also said Wednesday that it now expects its full-year adjusted net income to be greater than $25.50 per share, up from a previous forecast for earnings surpassing $25.10 per share.The new outlook tops the average analyst forecast for $25.26 per share, according to FactSet.Company shares rose 1.4% to $395.45 in early trading. The stock has already climbed 21% since the beginning of the year and 51% in the last 12 months.—————Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on ANTM at https://www.zacks.com/ap/ANTM

HCA Q2 profit surges as patients return to hospitals

HCA Q2 profit surges as patients return to hospitals

The first major hospital chain to post second-quarter results surprised Wall Street on Tuesday with how much it has grown since a rapidly spreading pandemic curtailed surgeries and other care last yearBy TOM MURPHY AP Health WriterJuly 20, 2021, 9:29 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleThe first major hospital chain to post second-quarter results surprised Wall Street on Tuesday with how much it has grown since a rapidly spreading pandemic curtailed surgeries and other care last year.HCA Healthcare said Tuesday that admissions to its hospitals soared while COVID-19 related care fell in the three-month window that ended June 30. That contributed to better-than-expected earnings in the quarter and a raised forecast for 2021.“With the effects of the pandemic moderating … we experienced a strong rebound in demand for services,” CEO Sam Hazen said.That rebound happened largely before COVID-19 cases started climbing around the country over the past few weeks, drawing concern from federal officials and epidemiologists. The seven-day rolling average for daily new cases has nearly tripled over the past two weeks to 34,730 as of Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University.COVID-19 cases are now increasing in nearly every state as a highly contagious virus variant spreads, leaving millions of still unvaccinated people vulnerable to serious illness or hospitalization.Even so, company officials told analysts on Tuesday that they expect demand for their services to remain strong throughout the year. That demand has been fueled in part by growth in employment and insurance coverage.About 68% of U.S. adults also have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Last year, before vaccines were authorized for emergency use, patients stayed home or cancelled elective surgeries and other care.HCA runs 187 hospitals as well as hundreds of surgery centers, free-standing emergency rooms and clinics in 20 states and the United Kingdom.The company said Tuesday that inpatient surgeries at established locations grew 15% compared to last year’s second quarter, and outpatient surgeries soared more than 52%.Meanwhile, COVID-19 patient admissions fell to 3% of total admissions during the quarter. That’s down from 10% in the first quarter.Overall, HCA’s adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization grew about 21% to $3.22 billion. That compares to $2.67 billion in last year’s quarter, when the company also booked $822 million in government stimulus income that it has since paid back.Adjusted earnings totaled $4.37 per share in this year’s second quarter, and revenue grew 30% to $14.44 billion.Analysts expected, on average, earnings of $3.16 per share on $13.61 billion in revenue, according to FactSet.For 2021, HCA now expects earnings to range between $16.30 and $17.10 per share after forecasting $13.30 to $14.30 in April.Wall Street forecasts $14.02 per share.Citi analyst Ralph Giacobbe called the results a “blowout.”“The performance and magnitude of upside is impressive and we expect shares to trade higher,” Giacobbe said in a research note.Shares of Nashville, Tennessee-based HCA Healthcare Inc. jumped more than 15% to approach $252 and set another all-time high price on Tuesday while broader indexes were up over 1%.Hospital operators like HCA have largely outpaced the broader market since last November. That’s when drugmakers released clinical study results on their experimental COVID-19 vaccines and gave investors initial hints that the pandemic could be brought under control.HCA competitor Tenet Healthcare Corp. will detail its second-quarter results Wednesday after markets close while another hospital chain, Community Health Systems Inc., reports next week.———Follow Tom Murphy on Twitter: @thpmurphy

Walgreens tops fiscal Q3 forecasts as recovery continues

Walgreens tops fiscal Q3 forecasts as recovery continues

Walgreens earnings surged past Wall Street expectations for the fiscal third quarter, as the drugstore chain continued to rebuild sales hurt by the COVID-19 pandemicBy TOM MURPHY AP Health WriterJuly 1, 2021, 3:30 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleWalgreens earnings surged past Wall Street expectations for the fiscal third quarter, as the drugstore chain continued to rebuild sales hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic.Millions of vaccinations and tests helped pharmacy sales rebound, and an easing of pandemic restrictions in the United Kingdom brought some customers back to the company’s Boots stores.Overall, the company earned $1.2 billion in the quarter that ended May 31. That compares to a $1.7 million loss in last year’s quarter, when Walgreens booked $2 billion in pandemic-related charges.Total sales climbed 12% to more than $34 billion in the most recent quarter, and adjusted earnings amounted to $1.51 per share.Analysts expected, on average, earnings of $1.16 per share on $33.49 billion in revenue, according to FactSet.Deerfield, Illinois-based Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. runs more than 13,000 stores mainly in the United States and the United Kingdom. It also has a presence in China through an investment in a company that owns and operates several thousand stores there.Drugstores are Walgreens’ main focus, but the company also is expanding into care delivery through a partnership with VillageMD.U.S. sales at Walgreens established stores climbed more than 6% in the recently completed quarter. That included a jump in pharmacy sales, helped by more than 17 million COVID-19 vaccinations.Company officials told analysts Thursday that customers are returning to their stores, and they are seeing an increase in sales of profitable beauty products.Sales in the U.K. were still lower than pre-pandemic levels in the quarter. But Executive Vice President James Kehoe said the company was rapidly regaining market share lost to grocers at the height of the pandemic.The drugstore chain also said Thursday that it expects around 10% earnings growth this fiscal year after previously forecasting mid-to-high single digit percentage growth.That implies a conservative outlook for the fiscal fourth quarter, Jefferies analyst Brian Tanquilut said in a research note.Reopening economies will help Walgreens sales in the short term, Edward Jones analyst John Boylan said in a separate note.But the analyst also said the picture gets cloudy in the long term due to challenging prescription reimbursements and uncertainty about how profitable things like Walgreen’s push into care delivery will be.Shares of Walgreens, a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, fell nearly 7% to $49.03 in morning trading while the Dow rose slightly.———Follow Tom Murphy on Twitter: @thpmurphy

Lilly to seek FDA approval for potential Alzheimer's drug

Lilly to seek FDA approval for potential Alzheimer's drug

Eli Lilly says it will submit its potential Alzheimer’s treatment to federal regulators later this yearBy TOM MURPHY AP Health WriterJune 24, 2021, 11:00 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleINDIANAPOLIS — Eli Lilly is nearly ready to take another shot at getting approval for a possible Alzheimer’s drug.The drugmaker said Thursday that it plans to submit its potential treatment donanemab to the Food and Drug Administration later this year.The announcement comes a few weeks after the FDA approved a treatment from rival Biogen, despite warnings from the agency’s independent advisers that it hasn’t been shown to help slow the brain-destroying disease.The agency approved Biogen’s Aduhelm based on study results showing it seemed “reasonably likely” to benefit Alzheimer’s patients. It’s the first new Alzheimer’s drug in nearly 20 years and the only therapy that U.S. regulators have said can likely alter the course of the disease, rather than temporarily ease symptoms like thinking problems, memory lapses and anxiety.Both Aduhelm and Lilly’s potential treatment, donanemab, help clear a protein called beta-amyloid from the brain.Lilly said Thursday that it will seek approval for donanemab based on results from a mid-stage clinical study of the drug involving 272 patients with an early form of the disease. Researchers said donanemab showed signs of slowing a decline in cognition and daily function for patients who took it compared to those who took a placebo or fake drug.The FDA gave donanemab a “breakthrough therapy” designation, which is intended to speed the development and review of drugs that show signs of being an improvement over established treatments.Lilly may be able to file its application for approval in the next two or three months since the drugmaker appears to have all the data it needs, said Dr. Vamil Divan, an analyst who covers the company for Mizhuho Securities USA.The Indianapolis company also will examine the drug in a larger, late-stage study. A spokeswoman said Lilly plans to complete enrollment in that study by the end of the year, and an 18-month treatment period will follow.Biogen said Wednesday that another experimental Alzheimer’s treatment it developed with Japan’s Eisai Co. also received a breakthrough therapy designation from the FDA. Researchers are examining that drug, lecanemab, in a late-stage study.The companies gave no time frame for when they might seek regulatory approval.Some 6 million people in the U.S. and many more worldwide have Alzheimer’s disease, which gradually attacks areas of the brain needed for memory, reasoning, communication and basic daily tasks.Lilly and several other drugmakers have previously failed in attempts to find a treatment that slows the progression of the mind-robbing disease.More than four years ago, Lilly said another potential drug it developed called solanezumab did not work better than a placebo in a study of over 2,100 people.That drug also aimed to clear potentially harmful protein from the brain.Eli Lilly and Co. shares jumped $15.87, or 7.3%, to close Thursday at $232.97, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index climbed less than 1%.Shares of Biogen fell 6.1%, or $22.74, to end the day at $349.16.———Follow Tom Murphy on Twitter: @thpmurphy

Lilly to seek FDA approval for potential Alzheimer's drug

Lilly to seek FDA approval for potential Alzheimer's drug

Eli Lilly says it will submit its potential Alzheimer’s treatment to federal regulators later this yearBy TOM MURPHY AP Health WriterJune 24, 2021, 6:27 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleINDIANAPOLIS — Eli Lilly is nearly ready to take another shot at getting approval for a possible Alzheimer’s drug.The drugmaker said Thursday that it plans to submit its potential treatment donanemab to the Food and Drug Administration later this year.The announcement comes a few weeks after the FDA approved a treatment from rival Biogen, despite warnings from the agency’s independent advisers that it hasn’t been shown to help slow the brain-destroying disease.The agency approved Biogen’s Aduhelm based on study results showing it seemed “reasonably likely” to benefit Alzheimer’s patients. It’s the first new Alzheimer’s drug in nearly 20 years and the only therapy that U.S. regulators have said can likely alter the course of the disease, rather than temporarily ease symptoms like thinking problems, memory lapses and anxiety.Both Aduhelm and Lilly’s potential treatment, donanemab, help clear a protein called beta-amyloid from the brain.Lilly said Thursday that it will seek approval for donanemab based on results from a mid-stage clinical study of the drug involving 272 patients with an early form of the disease. Researchers said donanemab showed signs of slowing a decline in cognition and daily function for patients who took it compared to those who took a placebo or fake drug.The FDA gave donanemab a “breakthrough therapy” designation, which is intended to speed the development and review of drugs that show signs of being an improvement over established treatments.Lilly may be able to file its application for approval in the next two or three months since the drugmaker appears to have all the data it needs, said Dr. Vamil Divan, an analyst who covers the company for Mizhuho Securities USA.The Indianapolis company also will examine the drug in a larger, late-stage study. A spokeswoman said Lilly plans to complete enrollment in that study by the end of the year, and an 18-month treatment period will follow.Biogen said Wednesday that another experimental Alzheimer’s treatment it developed with Japan’s Eisai Co. also received a breakthrough therapy designation from the FDA. Researchers are examining that drug, lecanemab, in a late-stage study.The companies gave no time frame for when they might seek regulatory approval.Some 6 million people in the U.S. and many more worldwide have Alzheimer’s disease, which gradually attacks areas of the brain needed for memory, reasoning, communication and basic daily tasks.Lilly and several other drugmakers have previously failed in attempts to find a treatment that slows the progression of the mind-robbing disease.More than four years ago, Lilly said another potential drug it developed called solanezumab did not work better than a placebo in a study of over 2,100 people.That drug also aimed to clear potentially harmful protein from the brain.Eli Lilly and Co. shares jumped nearly $17, or almost 8%, to $233.97 Thursday afternoon while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index climbed less than 1%.Shares of Biogen fell more than 5%, or $20.29, to $351.61.———Follow Tom Murphy on Twitter: @thpmurphy