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Super Bowl LI: Why It’s In the Bag

The must-have Super Bowl party accessory this year is a bag of Tostitos. Not the chips, mind you. Just the bag.

The Tostitos “Party Safe” bag has a built-in alcohol sensor: Breathe into it after sipping one too many and the side of the bag turns a bright neon red, flashing the message, “Don’t Drink and Drive” and offering a code for a discounted Uber ride.

No surprise, the Twittersphere has embraced the idea with snarky glee. The Lawrence, Kansas, police department tweeted out:

“If you have to blow into a Tostitos bag to know if you’re intoxicated, for the love of all that is holy, DO NOT DRIVE.” Others suggested that the offering will only spawn drinking games (I’m sure of that, too.) And here is my favorite, from the clever @thetugboatphil: “But Occifer…they’re Chiplo…Chiptol…Chelopt….Ranch flavor.”

But let me go out on a limb and say, “Hail to Thee, Oh Frito-Lay marketing wizards.” Why? Because it gets a nation talking about something that actually needs talking about.

As of late morning, YouTube viewers had clicked on the long and short versions of the Tostitos video campaign a remarkable 4,066,620 times. And so millions of people have seen Delanie Walker, a tight end who now plays for the Tennessee Titans, talk powerfully about losing his Aunt Alice and Uncle Bryan to a drunk driver who smashed into their car. The couple was driving to their hotel from the New Orleans Superdome, after coming to see their nephew play for the Niners in the big game.

In 2015, drunk drivers killed or injured some 300,000 people, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which has partnered with Frito-Lay on the Tostitos effort. And Super Bowls are particularly bloody nights in this regard, as researchers have reported for years. What’s more, the fatalities seem to be higher when it’s a close game.

So this Sunday, hope for a blowout. Enjoy some chips. And for the love of all that is holy, don’t drink and drive.

Clifton Leaf


NBA teams won’t be able to use wearables data in contract negotiations. The National Basketball Association’s latest collective bargaining agreement (CBA) bars the use of data obtained through superstar athletes’ werable fitness trackers from being used in contract negotiations with those player s or as part of trade deals. “The data may not be considered, used, discussed or referenced for any other purpose such as in negotiations regarding a future Player Contract or other Player Contract transaction (e.g., a trade or waiver) involving the player,” reads the CBA. Wearables data will now only be used to assist in the health and performance of individual players. (SportTechie)

Arkansas legislators advance telemedicine-boosting bill. A key state Senate committee in Arkansas has advanced legislation that will make it easier for doctors to connect with patients via telemedicine and expand the scope of what constitutes a telemedicine visit. Right now, doctors can only deploy digital visits if they’ve gone through a series of steps including meeting physically with a patient in their office first. Insurance companies would also be allowed to reimburse for telemedicine visits under the bill. This could be a particularly useful service in Arkansas, which contains numerous rural regions that may not be near a hospital or doctor’s office. And surveys have shown that digital doctor visits are increasingly in demand – a recent American Well poll found that one in five Americans would be willing to switch their primary care physicians if it meant gaining access to telemedicine. (KUAF)


Next-gen Amgen cholesterol drug improves cardiovascular outcomes in trial. The good news just keeps on coming for Amgen’s Repatha, a flagship drug in its new “PCSK9” cholesterol-busting franchise. Topline data from a cardiovascular outcomes trial shows that the treatment, which can slash LDL cholesterol levels by 60%-plus, significantly improved heart attack, hospitalization, and other heart-related adverse events. For now, the specific numbers are still under wraps, so there’s still an open question about just how significant the benefit is. But Amgen has been hoping to score a victory here in the face of lackluster sales of Repatha, which it hopes will one day become a blockbuster. But considering the therapy’s high list price of $14,000 per year, doctors and insurers have been skeptical about prescribing/covering the medicine without proof that its LDL-busting power translates to broader improved health outcomes. And it’s just the latest bit of good luck for Amgen in this space. Last month, a federal judge issued a stunning IP victory to the company, ordering rivals Sanofi and Regeneron to halt sales of their own PCSK9 drug for patent infringement.

Merck cancer immunotherapy Keytruda’s sales miss the mark, but continues lung cancer streak. Q4 2016 sales of Merck’s flagship cancer immunotherapy Keytruda missed analyst estimates by about $25 million (it pulled in $271 million for the quarter), the company revealed during its earnings statement Thursday. But the drug’s prowess in the lung cancer market (which provided nearly a third of the drug’s Q4 sales) continued to bolster the pharma giant’s hopes, especially as Merck expects to win an accelerated approval for a combination of Keytruda and platinum-based chemotherapy as a go-to, first-in-line option for lung cancer. If Merck pulls that off in the coming months, it will essentially be free of immunotherapy competitors for treating one of the most prevalent and deadly cancers in America. Rival Bristol-Myers Squibb recently announced that it would not be seeking an accelerated approval for a combination of its own competing immunotherapy Opdivo and an older drug called Yervoy, leaving the lane clear for Merck for at least a year.


Cleveland Clinic doctors silently protest immigration ban ahead of CEO’s controversial meeting with Trump. Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove runs one of the most venerable health systems in the world. But doctors, nurses, and medical students both within and without the Cleveland Clinic are criticizing his apparent connection with President Donald Trump in light of controversial actions like the recent immigration and refugee ban. Cosgrove and a host other CEOs who make up an advisory council to the president are meeting with Trump today; meanwhile, dozens of Cleveland Clinic doctors have been silently protesting the immigration ban, which has ensnared a physician colleague and prevented her from returning to the U.S. An open letter to Cosgrove urging him to cut ties with Trump, including by nixing a planned Cleveland Clinic fundraiser at the president’s Mar-a-Lago resort, has collected more than 1,100 signatures from the U.S. medical community. “Through this action you are supporting a president who has, in his first ten days in office, reinstated the global gag rule, weakened the Affordable Care Act, fast-tracked construction of both the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines through legally protected native lands, and banned legal U.S. residents from majority-Muslim countries,” said the signatories of the fundraiser. “All of these actions directly harm human health and well-being in the United States and abroad.” (Washington Post)

Weekend camping could help reset your body clock. A new study published in the journal Current Biology suggests a fun way of resetting your biological clock to get better sleep: going camping. The study authors say that a lack of electronic devices and artificial light can successfully bring sleep cycles in line with the body’s natural circadian rhythm (participants who remained in indoor, artificially lit environments experienced several hours of jet lag in the morning, with melatonin levels remaining elevated and causing drowsiness in the hours after waking). Of course, going camping isn’t the only option for a biological reset – limiting exposure to electronic screens and artificial light works in general. (NPR)


This Big Pharma CEO Thinks Trump’s Drug Pricing Threats Are All Bark and No Biteby Sy Mukherjee 

Your Fast Food Wrapper Might Still Be Toxicby Justin Worland

Battered CEOs Meet With Trump in Washingtonby Alan Murray

Job Growth Heats Up In January Employment Reportby Stephen Gandel

Produced by Sy Mukherjee

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