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The best migraine relief products you can buy

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best products migraine relief

  • A migraine can completely alter your day, but these products may provide relief when you need it — fast.
  • Our top pick for migraine relief is the Headache Hat, a versatile and effective blind-fold-like wrap that aims to offer prompt pain relief through compression and cool temperatures.

Migraines always seem to hit at the worst possible time, instantly changing your plans and requiring you to lie down in a dark, quiet place. Unfortunately, that isn’t always possible when you’re at work, have family obligations, or can’t otherwise spend your entire day in bed. When a migraine strikes, you need effective pain relief quickly.

I’ve had chronic migraines for over a decade, and their frequency has forced me to find creative ways to relieve the pain. Pain medication takes some time to work, so I’ve tried countless products designed to provide fast-acting relief. My favorites are included in this list, and can all be used in conjunction with your traditional pain medication.

These migraine relief products can soothe, comfort, and help to dull the debilitating pain of a migraine. Many of them are small enough to store in your pocket or in a desk drawer. Some of them are easily portable, so your day doesn’t have to come to a halt just because you’re dealing with a migraine. 

Here are the best migraine relief products:

Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.

The best migraine relief product overall


Why you’ll love it: Offering both compression and cooling therapy, the Headache Hat is incredibly versatile and can be worn multiple ways.

Have you ever found yourself wanting to squeeze your head in the midst of a migraine, or pressing a cold glass against your forehead for relief? The Headache Hat is designed to offer both cooling and compression, to help relieve the pain of headaches, neck tension, and more.

The hat, which is essentially a wrap, is made of cotton, spandex, and micro fleece, so it’s comfortable to wear. Simply freeze the specialized ice pack, insert it into the hat, and enjoy the cooling relief. The ice pack’s individually wrapped cubes shape themselves around your head, making the hat comfortable to wear.

This hat is one of my favorite go-to items for migraines, but I also use it after long days of working at the computer. It’s highly versatile, and you can wear it in many different ways including as a face mask, an eye mask, and a neck pillow.

The fact that you can pull down part of the hat as an eye mask is beneficial when migraines cause light sensitivity. I’ve found that the combination of cooling and compression has been particularly helpful in relieving my migraines.

A review from My Migraine Life says, “I found that I could get specific cubes to press against my temple and secured it tight enough to squeeze and freeze one of my trigger points.  There is a nice little cover to protect from direct contact with the skin so it can be worn right out of the freezer.  A convenient feature I found was that once the cubes had melted, I could flip it over and use it while the other side of the pack was still frozen.  I love not having to change out packs!

The Headache Hat has a 4.5 out of 5 star rating on Amazon, based on 918 reviews. One Amazon reviewer stated, “The ice feels really good, but what I think I especially love the most is the way that you can tighten the stretch around for tension in the right places. I can either cover my eyes and listen to soft music to relax, or keep my eyes open so I can get things done when necessary.”

If you’re tired of being stuck in bed holding a migraine to your head, this adjustable wrap allows you to be up and about while still benefitting from ice and compression relief. The ice packs last for hours and your life doesn’t always have to come to a standstill when a migraine or headache hits.

Pros: Can be worn in a number of ways, offers both compression and cold therapy

Cons: Hat doesn’t cover the top of your head, ice packs need to be cold or frozen before a migraine hits

Buy the Headache Hat on Amazon for $39.99

The best migraine relief on the go


Why you’ll love it: Small enough to keep in your pocket, the MigraSoothe Roll-On offers soothing relief with essential oils.

Getting hit with a migraine while you’re at work or out running errands can be awful, since you don’t have access to the ice packs, eye masks, and other supplies you have waiting for you at home. MigraSoothe Roll-On is small enough to keep in your office drawer, your car, or even in your pocket, so you always have it when you need it. This roll-on uses a combination of peppermint and lavender essential oils to deliver a cooling, refreshing sensation.

Using MigraSoothe is easy — just apply it to pressure points, such as your temples, wrist, and neck. The roll-on design keeps your hands clean, and the essential oils can help to take the edge off of a migraine. I find many essential oils too powerful and overwhelming, but I’ve used this roll-on for years without it bothering me.

The earlier you can apply this, the better. While this product doesn’t stop a migraine in its tracks, I have found that it eases the symptoms when applied at the migraine’s onset. I often use it and then apply an ice pack, which seems to work well.

MigraSoothe Roll-On has a 4.0 out of 5 star rating on Amazon, which is based on 315 reviews. One shopper named Kara wrote, “I tried this at the recommendation of my aunt and could not believe the relief I got from this simple mixture of peppermint oil and essential oils. Obviously it does not remove the pain 100% but I’ve found it to be a great alternative. If I put it on my temples, it feels like it is cooling and drawing out the throbbing pain.”

Another reviewer wrote, “It doesn’t take away the migraine, but when I take my meds and go to rest in a dark place with some cool packs, this really helps on my forehead and temples. The nice peppermint and light lavender aroma are relaxing.”

Pros: Small enough to keep in a car, purse, or pocket; hands-free application

Cons: Doesn’t stop a migraine, but does offer some relief

Buy the MigraSoothe Roll-On on Amazon for $7.50 (originally $9.39)

The best hot and cold therapy for migraine relief

Bed Bath & Beyond

Why you’ll love it: The versatile Bed Buddy Hot/Cold Pack can be wrapped or draped around your body for targeted hot or cold therapy.

While ice is often a go-to option for migraines, heat can also help to relax tense neck and shoulder muscles, so you don’t want to restrict yourself to products that can only be used for ice therapy. The Bed Buddy Hot/Cold Pack offers the solution. This pack can be used when cold, or you can heat it up for moist heat that will help to soothe muscle aches.

This pack is filled with natural grains, herbs, and flowers, and it easily conforms to your body. The unique shape means that you can wrap it around your shoulders, press it against your head, or use it in countless other configurations.

I enjoy the fact that I can wrap or fold this pack to target the hot or cold therapy to the exact area that needs it. When cooled, I like to drape this over my eyes during a migraine. However, I also find that heating it and draping it over my shoulders is useful is relieving neck tension.

The Bed Buddy Hot/Cold Pack has a 4.5 out of 5 star rating on Bed Bath & Beyond, which is based off of 101 reviews. One reviewer named Grateful wrote, “The Bed Buddy is so portable I can take it anywhere. There are no cords to plug in and it is easy to use cold or hot. It is also reasonably priced.”

Another reviewer named Annell1 wrote, “I have used this product for 20 years! They are awesome and last a really long time. Just replaced mine after over 20 years of use. Great for shoulder pain in hard to reach areas because of the great handles.”

Pros: Heats quickly in the microwave or can be frozen, conforms to your body

Cons: Requires occasional reheating

Buy the Bed Buddy Hot/Cold Pack on Bed Bath & Beyond for $11.99

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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Amazon and Worldpay are partnering to expand Amazon Pay acceptance (AMZN, JPM, V, MA, AXP, COF, WP)

This is an excerpt from a story delivered exclusively to Business Insider Intelligence Payments Briefing subscribers. To receive the full story plus other insights each morning, click here.

Amazon is partneringwith major payment processor Worldpay to enable Worldpay merchants in the US to offer Amazon Pay, its buy button that allows buyers to check out and pay using the information preloaded into their Amazon accounts.

Top US Acquirers By Transactions, 2018Business Insider Intelligence

The partnership will allow Worldpay’s US merchants to offer Amazon Pay as a payment option by using Worldpay’s application programming interface (API) to integrate Amazon Pay into their websites. The partnership makes Worldpay Amazon Pay’s first merchant acquirer.

Here’s what the Amazon-Worldpay partnership means: Amazon can broaden its footprint in financial services and gain favor with consumers amid crowding in the e-commerce checkout space.

  • Worldpay’s network can give Amazon Pay a significant boost in volume. Amazon has been building out Amazon Pay: There were rumors last year that it would expandthe payment solution to brick-and-mortar stores, it filed for a trademark application for Amazon Pay in Canada, and it’s invested heavily in the solution in India specifically. Partnering with Worldpay can boost Amazon Pay’s volume significantly: Worldpay processes 40 billion transactions globally, 26.2 billion of which are in the US, totaling $1.7 trillion annually globally and this partnership can give Amazon Pay access to a network of merchants that could substantially boost both its volume and brand recognition as a payment method. 
  • The partnership can give consumers more visibility into Amazon Pay. Although most of the major US card networks offer buy buttons, like Masterpass or Visa Checkout, and have been rumored to be partnering on a collective buy button, the fragmentation on checkout pages has led to low volume for those players. As it stands, PayPal remains dominant in the space, with an 88.7% conversion rate. Although there’s crowding with buy buttons, Amazon has room to gain a major lead, as its presence in a checkout page can be familiar to online shoppers who already have payment information stored on Amazon.
  • This move can play into Amazon’s broader push into financial services.This partnership will ultimately allow Amazon to expand a major source of volume outside of its own platform. And that can complement Amazon’s move into commerce beyond its primary platform and financial services overall: Amazon launched a cobrand credit card for small businesses with Amex, as well as a debit card for Uber drivers, and last year was reportedly working with JPMorgan Chase and Capital One to develop a checking account product for underbanked consumers. Partnering with a major merchant acquirer is indicative of Amazon’s commitment to both build out Amazon Pay across thousands of online merchants and to escalate its push into financial services.

Interested in getting the full story? Here are two ways to get access:

1. Sign up for the Payments Briefing to get it delivered to your inbox 6x a week. >> Get Started

2. Subscribe to a Premium pass to Business Insider Intelligence and gain immediate access to the Payments Briefing, plus more than 250 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you’ll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. >> Learn More Now

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Here comes Levi Strauss…

Levi's jeansHollis Johnson/Business Insider

  • Levi Strauss & Co. is set to begin trading Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange. 
  • The blue-jean maker is returning to the public market after more than three decades.
  • Its trading debut comes amid a host of fresh initial public offerings, as Lyft, Uber, Airbnb, and a plethora of other companies are getting set to debut. 

Levi Strauss & Co., the iconic 146-year-old blue-jean maker, is set to return to the public market through an initial public offering Thursday after a three-decade absence.

The San Francisco-based company priced its IPO of nearly 36.7 milion Class A shares at $17 a share, higher than the $14-$16 that was expected. Shares will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker "LEVI." 

Levi’s return to the public market comes during a red-hot time for the IPO market, as companies like Lyft, Uber, and Airbnb are expected to debut later this year. 

Read more markets coverage from Markets Insider and Business Insider: 

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KFC’s chicken and waffles are returning to menus across America

Kentucky Fried Chicken & Waffles PlatterKFC

  • KFC is bringing its Kentucky Fried Chicken and Waffles back to menus nationwide this weekend. 
  • Chicken and waffles were an immediate hit when KFC introduced the dish in November. 
  • The dish will be available from late March to late April. 

KFC’s chicken and waffles are once again returning to menus nationwide. 

On Thursday, the chicken chain announced that Kentucky Fried Chicken and Waffles will roll out across the United States this Saturday. The dish, available as a basket meal and as a sandwich, will remain on menus until late April. 

KFC first rolled out its Kentucky Fried Chicken and Waffles nationally in November. The menu item was an immediate success, with some locations selling out within two weeks, according to KFC. 

Kentucky Fried Chicken & Waffles SandwichKFC

Read more: KFC’s chicken & waffle sandwich is the best of its new dishes and unlike anything else on the menu

"We expected people would love Kentucky Fried Chicken and Waffles when we launched it in 2018,” said Andrea Zahumensky, KFC’s US CMO, said in a statement. "But we underestimated how much love there would be, so we’re bringing it back just four months later. Too soon? Not a minute."

Kentucky Fried Chicken and Waffles use Liège-style waffles, a sweeter and doughier variation than classic American style waffles. A chicken and waffles basket meal will cost $5.49, while the sandwich costs $5.99. 

"KFC’s use of the Liège-style waffle lent itself especially well to the sandwich, in my opinion," INSIDER’s Anay Katyal reported in November. "The waffles’ density coupled with their sweetness complemented the chicken’s sweet and hot flavoring. I thought the sandwich’s flavor is unlike anything else on KFC’s menu."

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SEE ALSO: Burger King takes a direct hit at KFC in a new ad that dresses the King up in Colonel Sanders’ clothing

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Melinda Gates almost quit Microsoft in the 1980s because of the combative, male-dominated culture — and even today, bosses reward people who look and act just like they do

Melinda GatesJamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

  • Many bosses exhibit unconscious bias in their hiring and promotion strategies.
  • Specifically, they show favor to people who look and act just like them.
  • Often the result is that people from privileged backgrounds wind up getting ahead.
  • For your own success as well as your organization’s, it’s important to double-check your gut feelings about coworkers.

Melinda Gates joined Microsoft in 1987. Shortly after, she considered quitting.

Gates, who is co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, wrote on Quartz that she was the only woman hired in the incoming class of MBAs at Microsoft. She said, "It wasn’t always easy for me to feel at home in an environment where people seemed to get rewarded for being combative."

Ultimately, Gates stuck around, and found success by treating people respectfully.

Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of business development at Microsoft, started out with a slightly different approach. She told HuffPost about trying to "elbow my way into discussions, interrupt and raise my voice." Once, she said, "I even pounded my fist on the table, and it was so awkward! Not just for me, but for everyone else in the room, because there’s nothing more uncomfortable than watching a person try to be someone they aren’t."

For Johnson, that moment was a wake-up call: "To succeed on my terms, it was important that I defined my own brand of leadership."

Gates and Johnson’s observations about Microsoft, and what it took to advance there, are hardly unique. Across companies and industries, management is more likely to shine a light on people who look and act just like they do. The result is a more or less homogeneous organization — the opposite of what makes companies thrive — and a frustrating situation for people whose backgrounds and aspirations don’t fit that cookie-cutter mold.

Getting ahead at work is often based on how much your boss sees herself in you

A growing body of scientific evidence bears this out.

In their new book, "The Class Ceiling," the sociologists Daniel Laurison and Sam Friedman highlight the importance of sponsorship, i.e. having someone senior advocate for you, when trying to get ahead at work. So far, so sensible. But, the authors observe, sponsorship generally isn’t based on work performance. Instead, it comes down to "cultural affinity," such as a similar background or shared interests and hobbies. In fact, several of the executives they spoke with explicitly admitted to supporting people who reminded them of themselves.

The result is that sponsorship "disproportionately favors those from privileged backgrounds," they write. The authors interviewed one partner at an accounting firm who cited drinking as a key bonding activity for him and his sponsee. The partner is quoted saying, "[The sponsee is] very much in my mould. It wasn’t difficult taking him out with me, suggesting things for him to do. It’s easy for me to pass on the tricks of the trade. He’s obviously a practitioner in that drinking mould so it wasn’t difficult."

Read more: An ex-Apple recruiter says there’s an unexpected dark side to hiring for ‘culture fit’

Your chances of landing that plum promotion may come down to something even more superficial: how closely you physically resemble your bosses. An NPR article highlighted the "Good Hair Study," conducted by Perception Institute, which found that white women rated textured hair not only as "less beautiful" but also as "less professional" than smooth hair. Perhaps that’s why most powerful women in business have straight, blonde hair.

That’s not to say that male managers are the only ones favoring folks who seem familiar. A report from human resources software company Namely indicates that men and women tend to praise coworkers of their own gender more often.

Being biased in favor of people like you is typically unintentional

lisa borders wnbaElaine Thompson/AP ImagesSocial scientists say these tendencies fall under the umbrella of "similarity bias," or the tendency to favor people who are in some way similar to you over people who aren’t.

Sarah Greenberg, lead coach and program design lead at digital coaching platform BetterUp, put it this way: Anytime someone is considering a new hire or a promotion, they’re assessing whether they can trust the person with the job and whether the person is competent. When it comes to trustworthiness in particular, we’re often looking — consciously or not — for those who are similar to us. So, if someone can demonstrate that they’d excel at the job but seem to have nothing in common with you, it’s likely you might not believe that they will succeed.

Greenberg emphasized that this type of bias is a fundamentally human tendency, and is typically unintentional. That is to say, you’re not a bad person because you’re predisposed to support people like you. But for the sake of your success and the organization’s, it’s crucial to learn to stop and reexamine these thoughts: Is Sara really more qualified for the job because she and I share a love for tennis?

Some executives are more intentional than others about trying to override their unconscious biases. Lisa Borders, who was president of the Women’s National Basketball Association, told The New York Times that she prioritizes diversity in her recruits. "I’m always looking for the opposite of what I am, for the most part," Borders said. Instead of looking for a "duplicate" of herself, she said, "I am often looking for the person who can complement the skills I already have."

Fostering diversity in leadership needs to start with a deliberate recruiting strategy

Still, the moment when a spot opens up in the C-suite isn’t the ideal time to start scrambling for someone "different" to fill it.

Jaime Klein, founder of Inspire Human Resources, said the strongest companies create a diversity strategy that starts with the recruiting process, and addresses the "pipeline" of employees working their way up through the ranks. That way, when a seat does open up at the executive leadership table, there’s already a diverse pool of senior employees to choose from.

But perhaps the biggest mistake we can make is assuming that managers’ behavior is a sign of malicious intent. Greenberg said that this typically backfires: "People go on the defensive and they’re more likely to double down on these biases."

It comes down to being patient — with others, for sure, but also with yourself. As Greenberg put it, "There’s a lot to say about the value of listening to our guts and trusting our inner voice and [knowing] that same inner voice can also be indicative of an unconscious bias."

NOW WATCH: Amazon will pay $0 in federal taxes this year — here’s how the $793 billion company gets away with it

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SEE ALSO: 20 cognitive biases that screw up your decisions

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Tesla is suing former employees, accusing them of stealing confidential information and giving it to robo-taxi rival Zoox (TSLA)

elon musk spacex crew dragon demo 1 nasa commercial spaceship mission march 2 2019 dave mosher business insider DCM_1071Dave Mosher/Insider

  • Tesla is accusing four former employees who now work for the robo-taxi startup Zoox of stealing confidential information.
  • The company alleges in a new lawsuit that the documents helped Zoox "leap frog" years of work on self-driving cars. 
  • More than 100 former Tesla employees now work for Zoox, which recently installed a new CEO. 

Tesla has accused four former employees who now work at the robo-taxi startup Zoox of stealing proprietary information and trade secrets.

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in the US district court for Northern California, Tesla said the theft helped Zoox "leapfrog past years of work needed to develop and run its own warehousing, logistics, and inventory control operations."

Zoox did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tesla says the employees — Craig Emigh, Christian Dement, Sydney Cooper, and Scott Turner — violated terms of their employment contracts with the electric car maker when they forwarded confidential information from work email accounts to personal addresses and hired former coworkers from Tesla.

"As a condition of their employment, all of the Individual Defendants agreed to maintain the confidentiality of Tesla’s information and to avoid poaching Tesla’s employees within one year of their departure," the lawsuit says.

According to court documents, Turner forwarded internal inventory documents and other company schematics from his Tesla email to a personal address with the note "you sly dog" about one month before resigning. On the same day, Tesla alleges, he sent more confidential documents with the note "ooooh man… so much time and effort. Loved every second of it though."

Dement, a former Tesla warehouse supervisor, also forwarded documents to his personal email address, Tesla claims, with the subject line "good stuff."

Allegedly it was a slip up by Emigh, however, that led to Tesla learning about the activity.

"After Defendant Emigh joined Zoox, he mistakenly sent an email to Cooper’s old Tesla email address, attaching a modified version of a Tesla proprietary document, freshly-emblazoned with the Zoox logo, yet still bearing the layout, design, and other vestiges of the Tesla version – showing, without doubt, that the Defendants are actively using the Tesla information they stole," Tesla said in the suit.

The four accused employees have not responded to requests for comment from Business Insider.

Tesla has sued former employees before. CEO Elon Musk in 2018 accused Martin Tripp, a self-identified whistleblower, of sabotaging the company by leaking confidential information to Business Insider. Tripp maintains he never hacked the information, and only shared it out of concern for public safety.

More than 100 former Tesla employees now work for Foster City-based Zoox, according to LinkedIn. Now four years old, Zoox recently installed Intel veteran Aicha Evans as CEO after ousting its founder in August. The company, now worth $3.2 billion, has raised $790 million in venture capital to date.

"The theft here was blatant and intentional," Tesla said in the filing. "In the process, they misappropriated Tesla’s trade secrets, violated their agreements with Tesla, and breached their duties of loyalty, all with the knowledge and support of Zoox."

Read Tesla’s full lawsuit below: 


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SEE ALSO: A 12-year Intel veteran will become the new CEO of the self-driving car company Zoox, which lost its previous leader under mysterious circumstances

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The chief market strategist at $1.3 trillion investing giant reveals the hidden red flag that can signal a recession months in advance

Quincy KrosbyBloomberg TV

  • Quincy Krosby, the chief market strategist at $1.4 trillion Prudential Financial, lays out an overlooked economic signal that’s historically flashed red months before a full-blown recession occurs.
  • While Krosby isn’t calling for an imminent meltdown, she lays out three other signals she’s also watching closely.

Investors use revenue as a way to judge individual companies. But if they want to get the full picture, they could also use it as a way to check the economy’s health.

Quincy Krosby, the chief market strategist at $1.4 trillion Prudential Financial, says corporate revenue can provide a clear picture of how where the economy is headed. When multiple industries say their sales growth is slowing, she says investors should watch out.

"When you see revenue growth coming down in a material way from one sector to another sector to another sector, over, say, two quarters or three quarters, what companies do in real life is they stop spending, they cut costs," Krosby told Business Insider by phone. "They ultimately fire people. They don’t wait that long."

Krosby doesn’t think that kind of revenue slump is imminent. But she says those declines can reveal economic weakness six months or more before the job cuts are measured in the government’s unemployment data.

And the effects of that kind of weakness can be severe: When people lose their jobs, or become fearful they’re going to be laid off soon, they spend less money. That can substantially weaken the economy because consumer spending comprises about 70% of the US GDP.

Read more: We spoke to 2 veteran economists about how they survived the last 30 years of financial crises — and they explained why Wall Street millennials are ill-prepared to handle the next one

In the end, spotting economic trouble sooner gives investors more time to prepare for a downturn. And it ultimately allows them to be better preared if a full-blown recession strikes.

As of right now, most experts think the US economy is slowing, and revenue projections bear that out. While Refinitiv data shows S&P 500 sales growth hit a seven-year high of 8.4% in 2018, analysts think that growth will cool off to a 4.4% pace this year.

In fact, calls for an imminent recession have gotten louder across Wall Street in recent months. And while Krosby doesn’t see any immediate danger brewing, she’s closely watching revenue growth, as well as these three other potential warning signs:

1) A drop in new orders

Purchasing Managers’ Indexes are measurements of how manufacturing and service companies around the world are performing. Krosby said that their measurements of new orders are especially important, as a sustained drop in orders is a sign of weakness and greater difficulties ahead.

2) A strong dollar

If demand slows down and the dollar stays strong, US multinationals can get hammered, Krosby explains. That’s because the stronger dollar makes their products more expensive in overseas markets.

3) Falling transportation stocks

Transports are a traditional measurement of economic health, and Krosby says they’re a sensible one: If the companies start struggling because they’re shipping fewer goods, the economy may be in trouble.

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SEE ALSO: The last time corporate profits plunged into a recession, stocks kept rallying — but Morgan Stanley says there are now 8 big differences that could send the market tumbling

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An Amazon Air plane crashed in February, killing all 3 people on board. Weeks earlier, several pilots said they thought an accident was inevitable.

amazon air 2x1Hollis Johnson/Samantha Lee/Business Insider

  • An Amazon Air plane called CustomAir Obsession crashed on February 23, killing all three people on board. The cause of the crash remains unknown.
  • In conversations with Business Insider before the crash, several pilots who fly planes for Amazon Air said they thought an accident was inevitable.
  • These planes aren’t owned by Amazon, and the people maintaining and flying these jumbo jets aren’t Amazon employees. They’re employees of Air Transport Services Group (ATSG) and Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings and their subsidiaries.
  • Business Insider spoke to 13 pilots who work or have worked for Air Transport Services Group and Atlas Air Worldwide and fly or have flown planes for Amazon Air.
  • The rapid growth of Amazon’s air-cargo empire, coupled with low pay, has led to inexperienced pilots in the cockpit, veteran pilots said, adding that it could lead to safety problems.
  • Union leaders emphasized in a statement after the crash that any safety concerns cited by some pilots should not be conflated with the causes of the February 23 accident, which is still under investigation.

An Amazon Air plane called CustomAir Obsession crashed on February 23. All three people on board were killed.

The Boeing 767 cargo jet, operated by Atlas Air and contracted by Amazon, had been approaching Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport. The cause of the crash is still unknown.

In conversations with Business Insider in the weeks before the crash, several pilots who fly planes for Amazon Air said they thought an accident was inevitable. The rapid growth of Amazon’s air-cargo empire, coupled with the low pay, had led to inexperienced pilots taking to the skies, veteran pilots said.

Business Insider had interviewed 13 current and former pilots who worked with third-party airfreight companies that fly Amazon Air-branded planes. The pilots worked for subsidiaries of Air Transport Services Group (ATSG) and Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings. All are based in the US and fly both domestically and internationally.

These airline companies provide Amazon with leasing, staffing, maintenance, and insurance. The pilot groups who work with Amazon are ABX Air, Air Transport International (ATI), and Atlas Air. ABX and ATI are owned by ATSG, and Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings owns Atlas Air.

The pilots described difficulties in attracting experienced pilots, training they considered shoddy, experience with fatigue, plummeting morale, and pay that’s considerably lower than at other cargo carriers.

Of the pilots Business Insider spoke with, six worked at Atlas Air and seven worked at ATSG’s ABX. All these pilots are in the Teamsters Local Union 1224.

Capt. Robert Kirchner, an Atlas Air pilot and executive council chairman of Teamsters Local 1224, said the situation at Atlas Air was a "ticking time bomb” weeks before the crash. Capt. Daniel Wells, an Atlas Air pilot and the president of Teamsters Local 1224, told Business Insider in January that the check airmen — who oversee new hires for training and safety — are forced to work at "full speed or over speed."

"I can honestly say, if you had all the check airmen in the room and we’ve done this, saying, who believes that it’s likely that there would be an accident in the next year," Wells said, describing a hypothetical situation, "nearly 100% of the people will raise their hands."

Amazon AirYutong Yuan/Business InsiderThe pilots Business Insider spoke to represent a small slither of the total number of Amazon Air pilots. ATSG employs about 500 pilots in the pilot units that work with Amazon Air, and Atlas Air employs 1,890 pilots. (Atlas does not separate its employment by pilot group numbers.) 

And they have reason to be aggrieved. They said they have seen their pay and benefits erode over the past decade. Amazon Air pilots have been in contract disputes with their employers for nearly five years. Several of the pilots Business Insider spoke to are retired, and others have already left the companies.

Also, Atlas Air’s union leaders emphasized in a statement after the crash that the safety concerns cited by some pilots should not be conflated with the causes of the February 23 accident, which is still under investigation.

But while the cause of the Atlas Air crash remains unknown, the pilot concerns, which were consistent across the many conversations Business Insider had, raise new questions about overall safety standards on these flights, and potential risks associated with Amazon Air’s rapid expansion and outsourcing strategy.

Analysts say those factors could lead to service disruption and a serious blow to Amazon’s aspirations to expand its logistics empire.

"I am concerned anytime that new entrants into aviation particularly carrying packages or goods enter a market where their background has been essentially trying to cut costs to make money," Jim Hall, who led the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) from 1994 to 2001, told Business Insider, referring specifically to Amazon. "Cutting costs in aviation causes deaths and accidents."

Neither Amazon nor Atlas Air responded to multiple requests for comments on pilots’ claims, though both expressed interest earlier in the reporting process to provide an interview or learn more about the story. ATSG, which owns ABX and ATI, gave a statement but did not respond to specific claims. The union for ATI pilots, Air Line Pilots Association International, did not respond to requests for comment.

The cause of the Atlas Air crash remains unknown, the comments from more than a dozen pilots raise new questions about overall safety standards on these flights

An initial review of cockpit audio from Atlas Air Flight 3591, which crashed in Texas on February 23, indicated that the pilots on board had lost control of the plane.

Another review showed that the aircraft reached an airspeed of 430 knots (nearly 500 mph) during descent before it crashed. One pilot told Business Insider that broke pilot-safety norms to not exceed 250 knots (288 mph) when below 10,000 feet.

The NTSB reportedly suspects pilot error as the cause of the crash.

Atlas Air pilots Capt. Ricky Blakely and First Officer Conrad Jules Aska, as well as Mesa Airlines Capt. Sean Archuleta, who was riding in the jump seat, died in the crash.

According to company records reported by the NTSB, both pilots were qualified and current in the Boeing 767. Blakely, the captain, had worked for Atlas Air since September 2015, with 11,000 hours flight experience and 1,250 hours of experience with the Boeing 767.

Aska, the first officer, or copilot, had 5,000 hours total flight experience and about 520 hours of experience with the Boeing 767.

Wells said in a statement: "The legitimate concerns we raised in interviews done well before the accident have not changed. However, we want to caution everyone that our comments should not be misconstrued so as to imply any connections to or to speculate as to the cause of the tragic crash of GTI 3591."

The people maintaining and flying these jumbo jets aren’t Amazon employees, but Amazon is a key customer of the companies that employ them

Amazon doesn’t employ these pilots directly, nor does it own the planes, but the e-commerce behemoth is a key customer of both ATSG and Atlas.

Twenty, soon to be 30, of ATSG’s 90 aircraft are leased to Amazon. Amazon comprised 27% of ATSG’s revenue in 2018, down from 44% the year before. Amazon is also authorized to increase its ownership of ATSG this year to 39.9% by increasing its warrant rights. ATSG’s two other major customers are the US military and DHL.

Twenty of Atlas’ 112 aircraft are leased to the Seattle-based e-commerce company, which owns 20% of Atlas’ stock warrants. Amazon is also authorized to designate a nonvoting observer to Atlas’ board. Atlas’ other major customers include Asiana, DHL Express, and Nippon Cargo Airlines.

Both companies’ bottom lines and flying hours have grown since onboarding Amazon as a customer. And it’s helped the C-suite’s take-home pay at ATSG; the four executives’ combined pay more than doubled from 2015 to 2017. (Atlas executives are making slightly less after a massive payout from their nonequity incentive plan.)

Amazon Boxes 3Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Pilots claim the airlines were having difficulty finding new hires, even as Amazon demanded more flights

Eleven of the pilots Business Insider spoke with had been with Atlas and ATSG for more than a decade. Each told Business Insider that the airlines were having difficulty finding new hires, even as Amazon demands more flights. The pilots coming to Atlas and ATSG today aren’t as experienced as the ones in the past, pilots said.

Kirchner said he was left speechless when flying one of Amazon’s new Prime Air planes with a new hire. They had just broken 30,000 feet when the "young fellow" turned to Kirchner.

"You know, Bob, this is the highest I’ve ever been as a pilot in any airplane at all," the first officer said, according to Kirchner.

"I didn’t know what to say," Kirchner told Business Insider in January. "You’re on a 747, the second-largest airplane in the world, and you’ve never been up here at this altitude."

An ABX pilot with 23 years’ experience at the company said: "We have guys in the right seats [first-officer seats] who have no business flying airplanes, and certainly no business flying heavy jets."

Ross Aimer, the CEO of AeroConsulting Experts, said "explosive growth" at Atlas and ATSG could be unsustainable and dampen safety standards at the two airlines.

"Atlas and ATSG are having a hard time finding experienced pilots," Aimer, an aviation-consulting expert with 53 years in the industry, told Business Insider. "They’re not getting the right talent as fast as they’re expanding."

ATSG sent Business Insider the following statement in response to a list of claims pilots made. They did not respond to each individual claim nor address questions relating to its business strategy:

ATSG has always been and will remain committed to the highest standards of safety throughout all of our operations. Our airlines are in compliance with the rules of their current Collective Bargaining Agreements, including day/night transition rules. Regarding staffing, ATSG has had no issues in finding qualified candidates to support its growth. Contract negotiations continue to be conducted under the auspices of the National Mediation Board, and we look forward to their satisfactory conclusion.

The 11 pilots said training standards have also eroded as Amazon’s business demands have increased and pressure mounts to onboard more pilots.

ABX has received at least two warnings from the Federal Aviation Administration for "a disruptive and confrontational atmosphere" during pilot-training sessions. One ABX pilot told Business Insider that ABX president David Soaper regularly came to training to "just babble and berate and try to scare the hell out of everybody."

In the most recent incident, Soaper interrupted training to yell at crew members, one of whom walked out of training, according to a letter the FAA sent ABX that Business Insider received through a Freedom of Information Act request.

"This letter serves as an additional reminder that ABXA should keep training environments free of distractions," Lawrence Ward, the principal operations inspector at the FAA’s East Michigan unit, wrote in a February 20, 2018, letter to Soaper. "This should include the avoidance of controversial topics by instructors and speakers."

ATSG, the parent company for ABX, did not respond to a request for comment on the letter.  

Many of the pilots shared stories of flights that they thought could have become dangerous

Nearly all the pilots with whom we spoke shared stories of flights they experienced where they felt it could have become dangerous. ABX Capt. Stephen Page, who retired in February after 26 years at the airline, said a first officer he flew with in the last year "wiped the power,” or took off the throttles and decreased the power at 100 feet, a technique not advised in large cargo jets.

"It was like he was flying his father’s Cessna around the cabbage patch," Page told Business Insider. "Everyone who knows anything about swept-wing jets, you don’t do that. You fly that aircraft to the runway; otherwise, you can have really catastrophic results."  

Page quickly took control of the aircraft. He decided to train the first officer in landing the day after, but a similar incident arose. "It was just a total cluster," Page said.  

ATSG, the parent company for ABX, did not respond to a request for comment on Page’s comments.  

amazon prime airMark Makela/Reuters

An Atlas Air pilot, who has been with the company for 20 years, said his safety concerns were so strong that he doesn’t feel comfortable sleeping during international flights when he’s flying with pilots he thinks were "pushed" through training.

"I will not go in the back, or if I go in the back I won’t go in the bunk, I’ll stay up in the seat, I’ll take little catnaps," he said. "I don’t rest very well because you’re looking to make sure everything is OK."

Asked how he gets through those long flights, the pilot responded, "Lots of coffee."

Exhausted pilots are fueling Amazon’s delivery aspirations

All but one pilot said they experienced forced overtime and fatigue while employed at Atlas Air and ATSG. The one pilot who said he had not experienced forced overtime joined Atlas less than three years ago.

"The problems predate Amazon, but Amazon created such a rapid expansion with 20 airplanes, plus a lot of the airplanes that they were getting for other customers, have just amplified the situation," Kirchner said. "These 20 airplanes that were flying for Amazon really put them under more stress to keep hiring and hiring."

Under FAA safety laws, pilots cannot work more than 290 hours a month and cannot exceed 100 hours a month in flight time. But it’s not exactly a 25-hour workweek; pilots often spend downtime at hotels or airports waiting for their next job or have to commute by flying to other airports.

Some pilots, particularly those who work for prestigious airlines like Delta or Southwest, are able to spend a lot of their time at home, while others — including Amazon Air pilots — might go weeks or even months without getting back to their families.

Amazon Air pilots with whom we spoke said they don’t have a set schedule and, because of the lack of workers, they’re often asked just hours before flights to come into work, on days they’d scheduled off. One pilot told Business Insider he was offered four days’ overtime pay to fly a two-hour flight. The catch was that it was on a Saturday, and he’d have to fly to and from the job instead of spending his weekend with his children.

Further, cargo pilots don’t have the same rest periods that passenger pilots have. Under safety laws that came into effect in 2014, passenger pilots are allocated 10-hour rest breaks between trips, which allow them to get at least eight hours’ sleep, but cargo pilots only have eight hours between trips.

That’s what cargo pilots call the "cargo carve-out" — rest-break rules that cargo pilots have been carved out of and can’t benefit from.

"Cargo aircraft and the operations around cargo aircraft are second class citizens in the FAA, and many times have been treated as second class citizens by their operators," Hall, the former NTSB head, said.

"The fact of the matter is, because they’re very few souls aboard, they do not get the media attention or the regulatory action that a commercial aircraft does," Hall added. "And that’s regrettable. They’re a very important part of our commercial aviation operations in the country."

And Amazon Air operates during the day, the pilots told Business Insider, even as most cargo airlines operate at night. Since ATSG and Atlas also service DHL and other customers, they sometimes find themselves shuffling their circadian rhythm around.

One pilot said that fatigue calls, in which pilots can call their employer and tell them they are too tired to safely work, have peaked in the past 1 1/2 years because of the nighttime flying. He said it’s common to have a week of normal daytime flying capped off with a red-eye. "Your body is completely on the opposite side of the clock," he said.

"We’re staying up all night and then flying over your house the next day," an ABX pilot with 23 years’ experience told Business Insider.

"It allows Amazon as well as ABX to get more productivity out of the airplanes," that same pilot added in a later interview. "It also, unfortunately, allows them to get more productivity out of you — your circadian rhythm be damned."

amazon air 4x3Hollis Johnson/Samantha Lee/Business Insider

Forced overtime, which pilots say has decreased in the past year, hurt ABX pilots in ways beyond their work productivity and morale. One ABX pilot said he was sometimes gone for two months at a time during 2016 and 2017.

"I’m going through a divorce, and I attribute that 100% to the way our flying schedules have changed," the pilot told Business Insider. "They wouldn’t let us go home."

Capt. Tim Jewell, an ABX pilot who has been with the company for 25 years and is the secretary treasurer of Teamsters Local 1224, said the forced overtime caused unrest in his personal life too. He said he missed birthdays of his grandchildren and important school functions and games.

"It almost more affects your family members than it affects yourself, because your family counts on you to be there for certain things," Jewell told Business Insider. "You keep telling them, ‘Well, I don’t know, don’t plan this, I may be there, I may not,’ and so forth and so on."

Above all, morale at both ABX and Atlas have plummeted. One Atlas pilot said he routinely has to ensure his coworkers are mentally sound enough to work. "Pilots show up and they’re so disturbed I have to pull them aside," he said.

Lower pilot pay is helping Amazon keep its air venture economical

Pilots are almost universally unionized. Even pilots at FedEx, whose labor force is not completely unionized, are in a union. Meanwhile, an ongoing pilot shortage has forced airlines across the spectrum to raise wages. "In the last two to three years, we’ve seen really significant salary increases," Bob Seidel, the chief executive of Alerion Aviation, previously told Business Insider. "People are desperate to keep their airplanes staffed."

But ATSG and Atlas Air pilots earn considerably less than their peers flying the same planes with the same years of experience at other companies. According to their union contracts, ABX and Atlas Air pilots have not received a raise in nearly a decade.

The union contracts at ABX and Atlas have been amenable since 2015, meaning they are still in effect but available to be negotiated. Negotiations, which are reaching their fifth year, have been challenging, according to each pilot Business Insider spoke with. Pilot union negotiations are often lengthy — FedEx’s most recent pilot labor negotiations lasted two years, while UPS’ went on for 3 1/2 years.

However, the ABX and Atlas contracts now in place were negotiated during the financial crisis, and pilots said the contract was "concessionary" in many ways. They allowed their pensions and healthcare matches to freeze, gave up vacation days, and took a pay cut. Pilots said that  was to save the airlines, which were financially struggling. Atlas Air had declared bankruptcy several years prior.

max experience captain pay v2Airplane Pilot Central; Andy Kiersz/Business Insider

Boeing 767 captains with the maximum years of company tenure at ATSG and Atlas now earn up to $246 an hour.

Those captains with the same credentials earn $313 an hour at FedEx and $309 at UPS. Even smaller cargo airlines, like Kalitta Air, pay better than ATSG or Atlas. Kalitta 767 captains earn $273.

Even a first-year captain at FedEx earns more than a captain at Amazon Air who has been with the company for decades ($258 an hour at FedEx).

So, the average Amazon Air captain makes about 33% less than the average FedEx and UPS captain for flying the same plane once reaching the maximum years of experience. (Maximum experience at UPS and FedEx is 15 years, while it’s capped at 12 years at Kalitta, Atlas, ABX, and ATI.)

"You have a bunch of pilots that were not happy to begin with, and now you see the company willfully and intentionally disenfranchising them and trying to basically crush or limit their careers going forward," Wells, the president of Teamsters Local 1224, said. "And that’s never a good environment to work in, especially with pilots or with the kind of work that we do."first officers with max experience payAirplane Pilot Central; Andy Kiersz/Business Insider

"This is another headache that Amazon just doesn’t want, and why they don’t want to get into the airline business," Kevin Sterling, the managing director of Seaport Global Securities, told Business Insider.  His theory is that "there’s no way around unions in airlines, which is why Amazon will continue to outsource this function."

Outsourcing pilot labor to low-wage airliners is part of Amazon’s strategy to keep its ever-increasing shipping costs low. Amazon’s worldwide shipping costs have grown fifteenfold from 2009 to 2018. Net sales increased by sevenfold in the same time.

"Amazon is doing everything possible to keep their shipping expense low because it’s ballooning," Marc Wulfraat, the president and founder of supply-chain consultancy MWPVL International, told Business Insider.

amazon shipping cost vs sales growthSEC filings; Andy Kiersz/Business Insider

To keep Amazon as a customer, the pressure is high on Atlas and ATSG to keep labor costs minimal. (Amazon recently hit the headlines for ditching another third-party logistics company.)

Read more: One of America’s biggest trucking companies says it will lose out on $600 million in revenues this year, and it looks like Amazon is to blame

It could be that cheap labor is the key thing keeping Amazon’s air venture affordable. David Vernon, a Bernstein senior analyst and vice president, wrote in a December note that Amazon pilots’ low wages allowed Amazon to carry goods more cheaply than UPS and FedEx airport to airport.

But Amazon Air has problems with crew scheduling and operations "dis-synergies." So Amazon Air’s service is ultimately much more expensive than that of UPS or FedEx when looking door to door.

amazon air cost disadvantageBernstein; Andy Kiersz/Business Insider

"Pilot pay at low-cost charter operations is lower, creating a cost advantage for Prime Air in airport-to-airport service — this does not mean, however, that they can deliver a 2-day box door-to-door cheaper than a commercial operator," Vernon wrote.

Service disruptions — meaning delayed packages — may be next

So far, the paucity of pilots has not caused a major issue for Amazon.

Satish Jindel, a supply-chain expert and SJ Consulting Group’s principal consultant, said ATSG and Atlas have maintained their services; the two airlines also fly for big-name customers like DHL and the US military. But every pilot Business Insider spoke with said they suspect service disruptions are almost definitely coming.

ABX pilots already went on strike in late 2016, though that was quickly struck down.  The 200-plus pilots were ordered back to work when a judge said the matter needed to be resolved through arbitration and under the terms of the labor agreement between ABX and their union. Continued disruptions could cause issues for Amazon’s plan to overhaul airfreight, Wulfraat said.

"If it ends up that the service level becomes inconsistent because you can’t find the labor to fly the planes and you’re constantly having labor-disruption issues, that’s going to have a direct impact on their ability to provide that two-day delivery," Wulfraat said.

"At some point in time, if you’re moving such a great percentage of your outbound volume into this transportation channel, then you’re going to have a regular supplier, consistent supplier capabilities, to do the delivery," he added. "This could potentially have big disruptive impacts on Amazon’s ability to deliver product to customers unless they figure out how to deal with this issue."

amazon picketTed S. Warren/AP

"You have a whole bunch of morale issues," one Atlas pilot who spoke on condition of anonymity said. "Guys are getting tired; they’re getting sick. There’s a lot of stress involved in it, too, because they’re pushing everyone to their limit. When you do that, especially at these very safety-sensitive jobs, most guys are going to err to safety, which means that something is not going to move at some point. It’s a matter of time before stuff stops moving or stops moving with any consistency.

"Right now, they’re barely keeping it together," the person said. "And when I say ‘barely,’ it’s right there. They’re going to run out of people."

Áine Cain contributed reporting.

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Trump reportedly still wants Robert Kraft at the Patriots White House Super Bowl party despite Florida massage-parlor prostitution scandal

Trump KraftJoshua Roberts/Reuters

  • President Donald Trump wants Robert Kraft to attend the New England Patriots Super Bowl party despite Florida massage-parlor prostitution scandal, according to a report.
  • The New England Patriots owner was charged with two counts of soliciting prostitution and paying for sex on February 22. He denies the charges.
  • Trump and Kraft are old friends. Kraft attended the wedding of Trump’s daughter Ivanka in 2009, and has been a guest at his Mar-a-Lago resort.
  • The New England Patriots won the 2019 Super Bowl in February, and are expected to visit the White House to meet Trump this Spring. 

President Donald Trump still wants New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft at the White House party to celebrate the team’s Super Bowl win, despite the businessman facing criminal charges over soliciting prostitutes.

According to a senior White House official, Trump and Kraft have spoken since Kraft was charged with soliciting prostitutes in late February, Politico report, and the president wants him to be at the reception this spring regardless.

The 77-year-old CEO was charged with two counts of soliciting prostitutes on February 22, after a months-long investigation by Florida police into massage parlors allegedly tied to human trafficking.

robert kraftMichael Dwyer/AP

Read more: Here are the major executives who were caught in the Florida massage parlor prostitution sting

Kraft was charged with paying for sexual services at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida, and police say there is video evidence linking him to the allegations.

He has pleaded not guilty.

When the charges were first brought in February, a spokesperson for Kraft released the following statement: "We categorically deny that Mr. Kraft engaged in any illegal activity. Because it is a judicial matter, we will not be commenting further."

Florida police offered Kraft a plea deal on Tuesday, one which asked him to admit he would have been found guilty if the case went to trial. He reportedly will not accept it, according to CNN.

Robert Kraft and Donald TrumpCharles Krupa/AP

Trump has said the charges against his old friend are "very sad."

"I was very surprised to see it. He has proclaimed his innocence totally, and, uh, but I’m very surprised to see it," Trump said.

Kraft attended Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner’s wedding in 2009, and has visited the Mar-a-Lago resort as a guest of Trump.

The New England Patriots are expected to visit the White House to celebrate with the President sometime this Spring.

The team also won the prize in 2017 but over a dozen Patriots players — including Tom Brady — skipped the White House celebration event.

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Biogen is crashing after scrapping its late-stage Alzheimer’s drug trials (BIIB)

A sign marks a Biogen facility in Cambridge.REUTERS/Brian Snyder

  • Biogen and the Japanese pharmaceutical company Eisai said Thursday they would discontinue late-stage Alzheimer’s drug trials.
  • Shares of Biogen crashed more than 25% in pre-market trading, wiping out nearly $16 billion of market value.
  • Watch Biogen trade live.

Biogen shares crashed more than 25% in pre-market trading Thursday, wiping out nearly $16 billion of market value, after the biotech company and Eisai, a Japanese pharmaceutical company, said they would discontinue two late-stage Alzheimer’s drug trials.

The two companies said they would scrap their global late-stage trials, ENGAGE and EMERGE, designed to "evaluate the efficacy and safety of aducanumab in patients with mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease and mild Alzheimer’s disease dementia."

The recommendation to halt the studies was not based on safety concerns, the companies said.

"This disappointing news confirms the complexity of treating Alzheimer’s disease and the need to further advance knowledge in neuroscience," Biogen CEO Michel Vounatsos said in a release. "We are incredibly grateful to all the Alzheimer’s disease patients, their families and the investigators who participated in the trials and contributed greatly to this research."

This outcome was "investors’ worst fears come true," Guggenheim analyst Yatin Suneja wrote in a note to clients on Thursday.  

"While unfortunate, we are not particularly surprised as numerous AB-targeting compounds have failed to demonstrate benefit in Alzheimer’s patients, and, in our view, this trial may signal the end of the current AB hypothesis of Alzheimer’s etiology," Suneja added, reiterating the firm’s neutral investment rating and $325 price target. 

Biogen’s pre-market move was its largest downside gap since August 2008, when the stock traded under $50, according to Bespoke Investment Group. At the time, there were safety concerns over the future of the multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri, which Biogen and the Irish drugmaker Elan were trialing. 

Biogen was up 6% this year through Wednesday.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

Biogen shares.Markets Insider

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