Tuesday, January 8, 2019

A letter from the executive editor

A Letter from STAT's Executive Editor

Dear Readers:

Even at the time, it seemed almost foolhardy: STAT was barely a few months old, and we decided to wage a legal battle against deep-pocketed Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin. Our lawyers warned us that it was a long shot, and that the legal fees would cost us tens of thousands of dollars.

But we didn’t hesitate. With the encouragement of our owner, John Henry, STAT filed a motion to unseal records stored in a courthouse in rural Kentucky about Purdue’s marketing of the powerful prescription opioid, which has been blamed for seeding the current plague of addiction.

Some three years later, we are more hopeful than ever that those records will be released. Just before the holidays, a Kentucky appeals court upheld a judge’s ruling that the public has a right to see the documents, including a deposition of Richard Sackler, a former president of Purdue and a member of the family that controls the company.

My point in recalling our court battle is to underscore our belief in tough-minded reporting. With many of the most respected reporters in the country, STAT separates hype from reality and tries to ensure that life sciences companies and research institutions, scientists and clinicians, and policymakers and politicians play by the rules.

At STAT, we are building a fearless, independent, and self-sustaining media company that is not beholden to advertisers or to donors with an agenda, but is financed largely by readers who think our journalism is worth paying for.

We’re grateful to those of you who read the free content on our site and in our newsletters, but I hope you will consider taking the next step, by buying a monthly or annual subscription to STAT Plus. Your subscription will give you access to far more of our exclusive coverage. Use the code STAT19 for 10 percent off your first year.
A subscription helps pay for in-depth coverage you won’t find elsewhere. In December, senior writer Sharon Begley traveled to Hong Kong, where she filed the most authoritative stories anywhere about one of the most consequential medical stories in years: the scientist who claimed to have created the first gene-edited babies.

When the news broke late last week of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s blockbuster acquisition of Celgene for $74 billion, we delivered the most comprehensive and thoughtful analysis of any news organization. We've led the coverage of the worrisome Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the impact of an experimental vaccine, and we’ve published repeated scoops on IBM’s troubled effort to bring AI to medicine.

Today is an especially fortuitous day to subscribe. We have five reporters in San Francisco covering the leading health care conference, J.P. Morgan, at a time when drug pricing and the development of new drugs for cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other diseases could not be more important. Our team — arguably the most knowledgeable group of biotech and pharma reporters in the country — includes Adam Feuerstein, Rebecca Robbins, Damian Garde, Ed Silverman, and our newest colleague, Matthew Herper, a respected veteran of Forbes.
We are thankful for your support of STAT, and we will do our best to deliver more provocative journalism in 2019. As always, please email me with any suggestions, criticisms, and ideas for how STAT can be even better. I’m at rick.berke@statnews.com.

All the best for the new year.


Rick Berke
Executive Editor
Monday, January 7, 2019
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