# 669 – 💊 Rise of the pocket pharmacy – The Average Joe

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    # 669 – 💊 Rise of the pocket pharmacy

    victorlei

    April 9, 2024

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    Good morning. Since the pandemic hit, there’s been a persistent decline in workforce participation. To entice employees, many employers have offered higher wages (duh) — and some are taking it a step further by offering on-site childcare.

    • Last year, 32% of companies provided backup childcare — up from 26% in 2019.

    • It’s reducing churn in high-turnover workplaces like restaurants, factories, and warehouses.

    • Subsidizing child care isn’t cheap — but neither is constantly recruiting and training new employees.

    Between high childcare costs and pricey groceries, supporting a family these days is tough, so any workplace that makes working parents’ lives easier has the right idea.


    HEALTHCARE

    Online Pharmacies Are Booming Thanks To Weight Loss Drug Fervor

    If pharmaceutical companies had their way, weight loss medication vending machines would be in every neighborhood. Instead, they’ve settled for alternative channels that are almost as accessible. In a first-of-its-kind move earlier this year, drugmaker Eli Lilly ($LLY) pioneered a program to sell its weight loss drugs directly to consumers, even teaming with Amazon ($AMZN) for deliveries. Meanwhile, Costco ($COST) recently introduced a service last week, offering GLP-1 weight loss drugs to its members.

    Pocket pharmacy: Everyone is trying to skim off the top of the weight loss drug hype — even telehealth startups, which have begun offering their access to weight loss drugs, which could pose some serious risks for patients. Inconvenienced by long waitlists and costly visits, Americans are turning to companies like Hims & Hers Health ($HIMS), 23andMe’s ($ME) Lemonaid Health, and Ro for prescriptions ranging from hair loss to sexual health and anxiety.

    • These companies are also rolling out subscription services offering GLP-1 drugs or other weight loss alternatives starting at $79/mo.

    • Hims & Hers CEO Andrew Dudum predicts that its new weight loss venture could “deliver more than $100M of revenue in 2025,” with a 48% increase in subscribers due to the new launch.

    AI drug dealers

    The flexibility telehealth offers has a dark side: US regulators impose few restrictions on how and what telehealth companies can prescribe. With Americans seeking affordable medication options, companies are unlikely to refuse treatment — even if patients don’t need it. Telehealth firms stand to generate billions, which NYU’s Head of Medical Ethics warns has created “a conflict of interest.”

    • Despite branding themselves as healthcare providers, many telehealth companies don’t talk to patients — relying on patients to identify side effects and possible drug interactions.

    • Hims began testing artificial intelligence (AI) tools last year to recommend personalized treatments, and doctors are also using AI to help diagnose patients, raising questions about accountability if AI makes errors.

    Forward-looking: Critics like Georgetown’s Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman argue that this approach strays from traditional medicine, stating, “This is selling drugs to consumers.” However, regulators have mostly declined to investigate telehealth practices. Without intervention, these companies could reshape the healthcare landscape unchecked.

    Read: How Novo Nordisk ($NVO) is revolutionizing the weight loss industry amidst the rise of telehealth companies and AI-driven prescriptions.


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    LARGECAP RECAP

    🔮 Economists predict two, one, or even zero rate cuts this year

    That’s five, six, and seven more rate cuts than some traders were expecting this year, according to WSJ. Interest rates are staying higher than anticipated at the start of the year — disappointing investors who banked on falling rates to drive market growth.

    • Dallas Fed President Lorie Logan believes it’s “too soon to think about cutting interest rates,” while Atlanta Fed’s president expects one this year, and Minneapolis’ Fed president questions if we need any rate cuts at all (BBG).

    • The Fed isn’t likely to cut rates until their June meeting, but this could easily change if tomorrow’s March inflation report comes in hotter than expected.

    The wildcard: Moody’s Chief Economist cautioned CNN that surging oil prices, which briefly exceeded $90 a barrel last week, is the biggest economic threat. JPMorgan brought back the $100 oil price prediction, a worrying sign as rising prices risk re-igniting inflation, which has stalled around 3% despite downward trends in other global economies.

    ✉️ America is at a “pivotal moment,” writes JPMorgan’s CEO in his annual letter

    Jamie Dimon’s annual letter is always a good way to take the temperature of Wall Street — and this year, the longtime JPMorgan ($JPM) CEO is feeling “cautious.” Though impressed by the economy’s resilience, he raises concerns about excessive government spending. With increased military conflicts and the shift towards green initiatives driving up expenses, Dimon worries inflation could be sticky and questions the likelihood of the widely predicted “soft landing.”

    • Dimon also fears the American Dream is “fraying,” — so he prescribes an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit and investing in work skills training to fill high-demand jobs.

    • As for China, Dimon thinks the US should engage but remain “tough” — establishing independence around chips and other resources critical for national security.

    Bullish on AI: Despite his cautious tone, Dimon is excited about AI — likening its impact to the steam engine’s. He believes the technology could “augment virtually every job” and says his bank has already found 400+ use cases for AI. This optimism seems justified, as 2023 was JPMorgan’s best year ever.


    JOE’S MARKET PULSE

    🔗 Krispy Kreme / Spirit Airlines

    Here’s why GM is backing this company in the next gold rush: Demand for lithium (essential for EVs, phones, and energy storage) is projected to grow 20x by 2040. And EnergyX’s latest tech can extract 300% more lithium than traditional methods. Join GM by investing in EnergyX →*

    Markets & Economy

    Biden admin boosts TSMC ($TSM) with $6.6B in federal grants: The big infusion of funds from the CHIPS Act will help the chipmaker complete three plants in Arizona by the end of the decade — as the state becomes a major site of the US semiconductor push. [Read]

    Musk announces Tesla’s ($TSLA) robotaxi debut in August: It’s been a brutal year for the EV manufacturer, with bleak quarterly earnings and the cancellation of their low-cost EV model sending shares plunging — so Musk is hyping up autonomous vehicles, even if similar promises in the past haven’t panned out. [Read]

    Oh no, another Boeing ($BA) mishap: This time, an engine cover fell off during takeoff, striking the wing flap during a Southwest ($LUV) flight. Boeing maintenance crews are investigating the incident — while Southwest refrains from disclosing recent maintenance history. [Read]

    Business & Wealth

    Assessing Acorns’ spare change investment: Acorns’ strategy of rounding up users’ purchases — taking, say, the remaining $0.25 from that $4 you spent on a $3.75 coffee and investing it — has shown promising results. A recent study found that users who invested spare change over nine years made $2.5K on average — not bad. [Read]

    Have that awkward inheritance talk now: Nope, no one wants to think about dividing assets after a loved one dies. But avoiding these conversations can lead to some messy family battles. The bottom line: talk openly and proactively have a conversation — not a confrontation. [Read]

    Potential payouts from Walmart ($WMT): The retail giant overcharged quite a few people for groceries, leading to a $45M class-action settlement. If you shopped at Walmart between October 19, 2018, and January 19, 2024, and bought weighted items like meat or fruit, you can fill out this form and see if you’re eligible. [Read]

    *Thanks to our sponsors for keeping the newsletter free.


    CHART


    DIGIT OF THE DAY

    Brace Yourself for $100K College Tuition

    Being an adult is expensive. But the transition to adulthood can be even pricier. According to the AP, the total annual cost (covering tuition, meals, accommodation, etc.) has exceeded $90K at several universities — with one Vanderbilt student facing a bill of $98,426 for the upcoming academic year. While the average cost for a 4-year private college stands around $56K, US college tuition has surged 12% annually between 2010 and 2022, as reported by the Education Data Initiative. Next up, $100K.

    • Massachusetts universities have the highest average yearly tuition rates, and within the state, Boston University, Tufts, Wellesley, and Yale are all set to charge over $90K this year.

    • Thankfully, students may end up paying considerably less, with the average tuition discount rising from 39.8% to 50.9% over the past decade.

    Students reject schools: High costs won’t be the only reason for dwindling college enrollments. The National Student Clearinghouse reports an 8% drop in college enrollment from 2019 to 2022. Within this period, the percentage of high school graduates pursuing higher education fell from 66.2% to 62%, as per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Due to the “demographic cliff” resulting from a plunge in births during the 2007-2008 recession, college enrollment is expected to further decline in the coming years.

    Read: For more insights on the changing landscape of higher education and its costs, check out “MBAs Don’t Shine Like They Used To: Why Students Are Skipping B-School.”


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