PBT Transcript (4/28/2008)

MIKE ARMSTRONG:  Coming up— talk about a sugar rush.  The maker of M&Ms is buying the candy company behind Doublemint and Juicyfruit gum, in a huge deal.  A local venture capital firm raises much more than it expected.  We’ll tell you who they are, and what they invest in.  And Pennsylvania’s doctors face many challenges.  We’ll talk with the head of the statewide medical society about some of them.  Philadelphia Business Today starts now. 

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MIKE ARMSTRONG:   Mars Inc. is buying the maker of Wrigley’s gum for $23 billion.  The deal is likely to spur more mergers in the candy business.  Wrigley had attempted to buy Pennsylvania-based Hershey in 2002, but local residents and politicians opposed the deal.  Critics say Hershey hasn’t kept up with the overseas expansion of Mars, which makes M&M.  That’s why Mars’ purchase of Wrigley will pressure Hershey to do something.  Market-watchers are saying that Hershey and Cadbury Schweppes could link up.

A Philadelphia venture capital firm has raised $420 billion for its second fund.  Quaker Bioventures invests in life sciences companies from Boston to Atlanta.  Venture capital firms put millions of dollars to work in young companies in exchange for equity in them.  They hope to make money when a company goes public, or is acquired.  Quaker’s first fund, started in 2003, invested in 24 companies.  The new capital raise brings its total amount under management to $700 million. 

We spend more on health care in this country than any other, but studies show we’re not the healthiest nation for all that spending.  Each state has its own challenges.  Take Pennsylvania – the percentage of the population older than 64 ranks behind only Florida and West Virginia.  That older population is a big consumer of health care.  The physicians argue the state is not ready to handle this growing burden.  Peter Lund is President of the Pennsylvania Medical Society,  the largest group that advocates on behalf of doctors in the state.  I asked him, do we have a shortage of doctors in the state, or a shortage of the type that can treat this older population?

PETER LUND:  The number of physicians that we have in Pennsylvania – we actually have quite a few physicians in Pennsylvania, but it’s shrinking.  If you look at the last few years, we have lost about 1600 physicians that actively practice medicine in the state of Pennsylvania.  We’re one of the few states in the country that is losing physicians.  If you look at the number of physicians per older patient in the state of Pennsylvania, we rank 37.  And as we get an older populace, we’re gonna – our demand for health care is gonna outstrip the supply.  And that’s our big concern.

MIKE ARMSTRONG:  One way to solve that would seem to be encouraging more Pennsylvania students to go into medicine.  But Dr. Lund said that trends there have not been good.

PETER LUND:  Health care, from my perspective, is one of the most exciting professions.  And we need to convey that excitement down to the high school level.  Because we know that if we can get kids that go on from – from Pennsylvania high schools into Pennsylvania medical schools and on through residency, they’ll be practicing back in Pennsylvania, and caring for Pennsylvania citizens. 

MIKE ARMSTRONG:  A quick correction, before we go.  On our April 25th show, we said the Bailey Mine in Green County Pennsylvania sends most of its coal to Europe.  Actually, only about 14 percent goes there. 

That’s it for today.  At The Inquirer, I’m Mike Armstrong, for Philadelphia Business Today.


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