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Company news

May 5, 2014

Indiana University plans to turn the former Wishard Memorial Hospital campus into a 26-acre, $200 million research complex that would bridge IU’s School of Medicine with the city’s life sciences firms, including those at the nascent 16 Tech business park. The plans call for classrooms, offices, labs and business-incubation space. The university is trying to lure the newly created Indiana Biosciences Research Institute to the facility. And the School of Medicine wants to set up a drug discovery center, which would house 12 of its faculty. IU’s public health and dentistry schools have eyed the complex as a possible home base, said Jay Hess, dean of the IU med school. The former Wishard will also become the new home of the Indiana University Research and Technology Corp, which tries to commercialize the intellectual property created at IU. The IURTC announced in April that it will sell its Innovation Center on West 10th Street.

A highly touted partnership between St. Vincent Health, Community Health Network and the Suburban Health Organization is coming to an end—just 18 months after it began. The Accountable Care Consortium was envisioned as a vehicle through which the hospitals would eventually funnel all of their roughly $2.5 billion in annual contracts with health insurers and employers. Those contracts would have been based on the ability of St. Vincent, Community and the suburban hospitals to keep patients healthy and in need of less care, especially expensive hospitalizations and surgeries. The concept is known in health care circles as “population health management.” The consortium signed up 12 employers as customers—half of which were among the hospitals that formed the consortium. Those hospitals included the 22 operated by St. Vincent, eight operated by Community and six that are part of the Suburban Health Organization. But the hospitals found that changes in the marketplace were happening at a faster pace than they anticipated—making it difficult to coordinate responses fast enough.

Endocyte Inc. stock plunged more than 60 percent Friday after the drug it’s developing with Merck & Co. backing failed to help patients in an ovarian cancer trial. The news could be particularly bad for the West Lafayette-based company, which has no other marketed products. According to Bloomberg News, the Phase 3 study was stopped after an analysis showed that vintafolide didn’t demonstrate efficiency when treating patients with platinum-resistant ovarian cancer, the companies said in a statement Friday. Just over a month ago, Endocyte was being mentioned as a possible premium takeover target after it reported that vintafolide slowed progression of lung cancer and won European backing to treat ovarian cancer. Endocyte said it will continue to test vintafolide for lung cancer, with late-stage data possible toward the end of the year. Endocyte has 70 employees in West Lafayette and 25 in Indianapolis. An Endocyte spokeswoman declined to say whether Endocyte expects to trim its work force as a result of the setback with vintafolide.

Health information technology firm hc1.com promised to nearly triple its Indiana work force over the next five years, adding 175 jobs by 2019. Hc1.com currently employs 93 people, mostly in Indiana. The company makes software that helps medical labs, radiologists and other medical offices manage patient records, bills and other data critical to managing their operations. Hc1.com will invest $2.5 million to lease and renovate 9,466 square feet to expand its existing 16,626-square-foot headquarters in Northwest Technology Park at 96th Street and Zionsville Road. The firm has quietly raised more than $14 million from investors. CEO Brad Bostic told IBJ last year that hc1.com was on track to double its $10 million in annual sales. The Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered hc1.com Inc. up to $3 million in tax credits and up to $100,000 in training grants based on the company’s job-creation plans. The credits are performance-based, meaning the company only receives them once Hoosiers are hired. Boone County is contributing $50,000.

A group of prominent corporate executives has created a new organization to find ways to reduce obesity among central Indiana children. Jump IN for Healthy Kids has a budget of $1.5 million and hired Indianapolis attorney Ron Gifford to spearhead the effort. Jump IN was founded by 17 local executives, including Eli Lilly and Co. CEO John Lechleiter, Roche Diagnostics Corp. CEO Jack Phillips, Anthem Indiana President Rob Hillman, Indiana Pacers President Jim Morris, IUPUI Chancellor Charles Bantz, Indianapolis Star Publisher Karen Crotchfelt, Lilly Endowment CEO Clay Robbins, United Way of Central Indiana CEO Ann Murtlow, YMCA of Greater Indianapolis CEO Eric Ellsworth, and the CEOs of the major hospital systems in Indianapolis. The group hopes to identify successful efforts to improve diet, activity and healthy choices among children and their families—both around Indianapolis and around the country—and then work to replicate or adapt those efforts to reach more people in the metro area. Jump IN hopes to work with schools, churches, employers, medical providers, grocery stores, neighborhood associations and individual families.

WellPoint Inc.’s first-quarter medical enrollment rose 1.3 million from the prior three-month period as WellPoint benefited from new customers through the Obamacare exchanges. According to Bloomberg News, WellPoint has the highest share of enrollments of insurers through Obamacare, with 400,000 on government exchanges through Feb. 14. Those customers also are younger than anticipated, making the company’s prediction of “double-digit” rate increases next year less likely. WellPoint said it now expects 600,000 enrollments through the public exchanges this year. WellPoint's profit swooned in the first quarter, but less than analysts expected. It earned $701 million, down 21 percent from a year earlier. Excluding investment gains and one-time charges, those profits translated into earnings per share of $2.30, down from $2.94 a year ago. But Wall Street analysts expected profit to dip as low as $2.13 per share, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters. For all of 2014, WellPoint now expects to earn more than $8.40 per share, up from a forecast of more than $8.20 it issued in March, and a forecast of $8 it issued in January.

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