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Brainstorm Health Daily: May 31, 2017

Good afternoon, readers. This is Sy—Cliff is busy closing our spectacular upcoming Fortune 500 issue but will be back in your inboxes soon.

In the meantime, here are some of the health care highlights for the day: IBM is urging firms to look beyond degrees and conventional talent pools in order to plug a massive shortage of cybersecurity workers, instead encouraging a “new collar” approach which prioritizes skills and capabilities over diplomas; Ohio’s Attorney General is suing five drug makers over the prescription painkiller overdose epidemic; and a simple linguistic test could help diagnose brain damage in athletes.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee


China to launch trials of embryonic stem cells. New Chinese regulations have paved the way for the first human trials of embryonic stem cells to treat Parkinson’s and age-related vision loss. Two different teams of medical professionals in Zhengzhou will be carrying out the experiments, which involve injecting embryonic stem cell-derived neural and retinal cells into patients’ brains and eyes, respectively, to see whether or not the technique eases symptoms of Parkinson’s and age-related macular degeneration. The stem cells in question come from fertilized embryos and are approved under 2015 regulations meant to ensure ethical use of embryonic biological material. (Scientific American)

IBM encourages ‘new collar’ jobs initiatives for cybersecurity. Cybersecurity is of critical importance to the health care industry, which is one of the most vulnerable sectors to hackers and malware. One part of the problem (other than outdated IT security infrastructure) is a massive shortage of available cybersecurity workers—and IBM wants to tackle the issue with a “new collar” jobs initiative that aims to change its approach to hiring in the field. “The cybercrime landscape is evolving rapidly, yet many organizations are still approaching their cybersecurity education and hiring in the same way they were 20 years ago,” said Marc van Zadelhoff, General Manager of IBM Security, according to Computer Business Review. “The truth is that many of the critical cybersecurity roles we need to fill don’t require a traditional four-year technical degree. Industry leaders need to take an active part in resolving the talent issues we’re facing, by investing in new models and extending the pipeline to focus on hands-on skills and experience over degrees alone.” (Computer Business Review)


Mylan’s shareholders are trying to dump its board. Prominent Mylan shareholders like the New York City and State pension funds and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System have taken aim at six Mylan board members in an attempt to scuttle their re-elections after the EpiPen pricing scandal. The various entities are also trying to scuttle massive executive payouts, including for board Chairman Robert Coury; they say that they control a combined 4.3 million Mylan shares and will lobby shareholders to vote against the board members’ re-elections and the compensation packages in an upcoming June meeting. (Fortune)

Merck’s experimental Ebola vaccine cleared for emergency use in Congo. The Democratic Republic of Congo has cleared the emergency use of rVSV-ZEBOV, an experimental Ebola vaccine from drug giant Merck which has shown significant promise in early clinical trials. There have been 52 suspected (and two confirmed) Ebola cases in the Congo in recent weeks, and the Merck vaccine would be given to contacts (and contacts of contacts) of suspected patients should the infections spread beyond its current chain of transmission. (Reuters)

Ohio AG sues 5 drug makers over opioid epidemic. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is suing five biopharma companies for their alleged role in fueling the prescription painkiller and opioid epidemic. DeWine says that the firms “put profits above health and well-being of Ohio consumers” by flooding the market with the powerful drugs. For now, it’s unclear exactly which five companies that DeWine is naming in the suit. But previous legal scuffles have ensnared drug makers like OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma and McKesson. (Columbus Dispatch)


Tiger Woods DUI the latest incident to highlight prescription drug dangers. Champion golfer Tiger Woods was found asleep at the wheel of his car on Monday and arrested on a suspected DUI after failing to complete standard sobriety check tests and slurring his words. However, the arrest report reveals that no alcohol was involved in the incident, and that Woods blew a 0.000 on a breathalyzer. Woods stated that it was actually a combination of prescription drugs which had incapacitated him (he had a fourth back surgery just last month). And the incident underscores the possible dangers of post-surgery prescription pain regimens if they aren’t handled carefully. (Fortune)

The first tell-tale signs of brain damage in athletes. A new study suggests that verbal cues may be the first tangible signs of brain damage in athletes who compete in sports like football and injure their heads. Changes in the ways that athletes converse could be a tell-tale symptom of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). That’s significant because there’s currently no reliable early-stage test for CTE, and the condition can only be diagnosed in an autopsy. (New York Times)


10 Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Careerfrom our friends at Essence

President Trump Expected to Pull U.S. from Paris Climate Agreementby The Associated Press

Macadamia Nuts and Cashews Recalled for Possible Listeria Contaminationby Lisa Marie Segarra 

Amazon’s New Patent Could Ease Drone Deliveryby Barb Darrow

Produced by Sy Mukherjee

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