Feb 18, 2020 - Health

Biogen brings in Warren Buffett, loses Ray Dalio

Biogen has been an active stock. Photo: John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

A lot of Biogen's value hinges on whether federal scientists and regulators will approve or reject its drug candidate for Alzheimer's.

Driving the news: The drug, called aducanumab, has attracted people like Warren Buffett to invest in Biogen's stock on the assumption the drug will score approval for a patient population that desperately seeks a treatment. But other wealthy investors, like Ray Dalio, have taken a less sanguine view and dumped Biogen completely.

By the numbers: Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway hadn't owned any shares of Biogen until it bought 648,000 new shares in the last quarter of 2019, according to regulatory documents flagged by Meg Tirrell of CNBC.

Yes, but: Ray Dalio of Bridgewater Associates sold off all of its 237,000 Biogen shares, according to regulatory filings.

  • Parnassus Investments and HealthCor Management likewise divested all of their Biogen stakes, while a handful of others significantly dialed back investments.

The big picture: The FDA is expected to review and rule on Biogen's application at some point this year. The recent stock trading around Biogen gives a glimpse at how much is riding on this drug, and how much uncertainty there is around approval.

Go deeper: Why there's skepticism around Biogen's Alzheimer's drug

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Big Pharma is on a stock buyback spree

Data: Company filings; Chart: Axios Visuals

In 2018, the year the Republican tax law went into full effect, 12 of the largest pharmaceutical companies spent more money buying back their stock than they spent on drug research and development.

The big picture: When billions of dollars became available to the biggest drug companies, their main priority was to juice earnings, along with the paydays of their executives and investors — not investments in new treatments or relief for patients who can't afford their drugs.

Go deeperArrowMar 5, 2020 - Health

Warren Buffett releases annual letter, reassures investors about future of Berkshire Hathaway

Warren Buffett. Photo: Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage

Warren Buffett released his annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders on Saturday morning, sharing investment reflections and eyeing the future of the Omaha, Nebraska-based holding company and the market at large.

Details, via Axios' Courtenay Brown: Buffett turns 90 this year, though there’s no indication he plans to step aside, there is speculation about Buffett’s successor. Berkshire also notably exited the newspaper business last month.

Drugmakers warn of medication shortages from coronavirus

Tourists with face masks walk through Union Square in New York City on Feb. 28. Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images

Some of the largest drugmakers — including AstraZeneca, Merck and Pfizer — have said that the coronavirus outbreak could affect their supplies or sales, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Between the lines: Drug shortages can end up being incredibly serious for patients, but they're not good for business either.

Go deeperArrowMar 2, 2020 - Health