Your FiercePharma reading list for long winter nights, no candle required

Candle in clear glass window with street in background
Better to light a candle on the shortest days of the year than celebrate the holidays without them. (Getty/BuckleyPics)

Light in the darkness. It’s a common theme this time of year. The Christian nativity story famously features the star in the east that guided the magi to the Christ child. As the carol goes, "And to the earth it gave great light/and so it continued both day and night."

Hanukkah, of course, has its origins in a menorah that miraculously burned for eight nights on oil that should have only kept the light going for a single day. Candle-lighting plays a role in Kwanzaa celebrations. And there’s the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, that the Celts celebrated with fires at night.

Where I live in Vermont, the holiday light tradition centers on the candlelight. Shining in each window, the lights recall years past when settlers burned a single candle to welcome family members, and sometimes weary strangers, to take shelter.

In the Vermont countryside, in the deep dark that falls around 5:30 p.m. in December, it’s easy to see how a single candle might guide a traveler home. Trust me, you can see a candle flame a half-mile away.

At their best, biotech and pharma are like those candles. For patients with rare, deadly and chronic diseases, new therapies offer the hope of relief, or even a cure. It’s not always this way—sometimes treatments end up spawning fear, important drugs run scarce because their makers fall short or drop out, patients can’t afford those lifesaving drugs or companies make mistakes and stumble into scandal.

But while the most-read news in FiercePharma this year includes such headlines, the list shows the more hopeful side of the drug industry tends to weigh out with readers, whether that’s news about industry leaders and their ambitions or about brand-new meds that could change patients’ daily lives.

Usually, for the final newsletter edition of the year, we publish our list of those top 10 news stories of the year. But this year, we’re featuring our 10 most-read special reports, beginning with the top 15 pharma companies and 10 best-paying places to work in biopharma through biggest 2019 patent expirations, highest-paid executives and more.

For the next week or so, FiercePharma will go on a publishing hiatus. But while subscribers won't receive daily email editions, readers can still find new stories on our website. Check back daily for the latest—we'll have the biggest news covered. And look for the first edition of 2020 Jan. 2. In the meantime, let us know your end-of-year thoughts. It's always great to hear from you. — Tracy Staton email | Twitter