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Brainstorm Health Daily: April 17, 2017

Let the high priests of journalism judge, but I will tell you here and now that this particular scribe has a deep-seated bias: I like Joe Biden.

It’s not a prejudgment based on politics, mind you, but rather personhood—or whatever the right word is that describes the layer of person-ness beneath a person’s personality: that part of the individual that signals to the rest of the world, “Hey, this is me! This is what I care about. This is what drives me.”

Now, truth be told, I don’t really know Joe. I’ve met him just once (about six weeks ago). Still, I feel confident that I know what he cares about if only for the epic, deeply ambitious quest he has all-in embraced over the past many months: trying to double the pace of progress in the millennia-old war on cancer.

Mr. Biden, the 47th Vice President of the United States, is not a molecular biologist by trade, nor a clinical oncologist, nor a card-carrying radiologist. He’s just a guy who knows that, if you’ve got an age-old, brutally complex, science-defying problem to solve, then collaborating to solve it is smarter than not collaborating…that sharing research and clinical data is a better strategy than hoarding it…and that making technological tools and research funding widely available is a whole lot better than the opposite.

Obvious, you say? Well, trust me: It’s been a hard bunch of messages to get across. (I tried.) But that said, Joe Biden has proven to be a guy who’s awfully good at communicating them—at making them sound clear, and commonsensible, and irrefutable—and more important, he’s gotten many others to take them to heart.

Faithful readers of the Daily will recall that I’ve written about Mr. Biden’s real and measurable successes in this effort (by way of the White House Cancer Moonshot he led)—and that I’ve written about his moving passion for the cause. And I’m excited to share with yawl now that in 15 days, on May 2, Vice President Joe Biden will join our Fortune Brainstorm Health gathering in San Diego to share first-hand—in an in-depth keynote conversation with my co-chair Dr. David Agus—what he learned during his Moonshot effort and where we need to go now.

I’m excited for a lot of conversations we’re planning for Brainstorm Health. But I suspect this one is going to be truly unforgettable. Hope you can join us—on Fortune.com (for the conference highlights) or in person. (If you haven’t yet applied to be a delegate, here’s your last chance. We’re closing the nominations today.)

Sy has the news below.

Clifton Leaf, Editor in Chief, FORTUNE
@CliftonLeaf
clifton.leaf@fortune.com

DIGITAL HEALTH

FDA says St. Jude Medical downplayed defibrillator failures. Abbott Laboratories made a bold play in the medical device space with its $25 billion acquisition of St. Jude Medical. But an acquiring company has to take on the headaches of its newest assets. And for Abbott, St. Jude Medical’s faulty defibrillator woes are continuing to take a toll. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent St. Jude Medical a warning letter last week stating that the company had allowed defibrillators whose batteries had a risk for running out of power early (and had been recalled) to be put into seven patients. “Inspectors said the company repeatedly disregarded signs that its defibrillator batteries could deplete prematurely, and disregarded its own policies in fixing cybersecurity holes in its at-home monitoring products,” writes the StarTribune. (StarTribune)

INDICATIONS

A stunning, unexpected setback for Eli Lilly. Eli Lilly shares fell 4% in early Monday trading after the FDA told the drug maker it needs to produce a lot more data for one of its most promising experimental therapies, baricitinib, for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Lilly expected this drug to be approved and hoped it would become a blockbuster contender in the lucrative treatment space, which includes the world’s best-selling drug, AbbVie’s Humira. Even worse for Lilly? The FDA said the firm needs to provide both more efficacy data and safety data.

Oncomed tanks following another clinical setback. Speaking of clinical trial upsets… Oncomed Pharmaceuticals is down nearly 20% after an experimental lung cancer drug botched a mid-stage clinical trial. Tarextumab didn’t meet its primary or secondary goals in the study. This adds to a recent string of woes for the company, which also faced a failure for a pancreatic cancer treatment last week.

THE BIG PICTURE

GOP aims for medical malpractice reform. House Republicans have introduced legislation that would make it harder to sue (and win suits) centered on medical malpractice and drug and device defects. The Trump administration says that the legislation is intended to drive down “frivolous lawsuits that unnecessarily drive up health care costs.” The bill would effect Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare enrollees. (New York Times)

REQUIRED READING

Why There Could Soon Be a Frenzy of Telecommunications Dealsby Reuters 

See 1940s New York City Through the Eyes of a Fortune Photographerby Kacy Burdette

The Internet of Things Is Real, But Skeptics Aboundby Adam Lashinsky 

The Dos and Don’ts of Pitching Investorsby Ibrahim AlHusseini

Produced by Sy Mukherjee
@the_sy_guy
sayak.mukherjee@fortune.com

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