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Brainstorm Health: Most Powerful Women, CA Drug Pricing Law, Spark’s Gene Therapy

October 10, 2017, 3:34 PM UTC

Good morning, Dailies. I’m in Washington, D.C. today for Fortune’s annual gathering of the Most Powerful Women—a rare business summit that is, effectively, designed to preclude manterrupting, mansplaining, and recidivist hepeating. So, no surprise, the conversations here have been fluid, fruitful, and fascinating. (I’m attending, for the first time, thanks to a kind invitation from the event co-chairs: my colleagues Pattie Sellers, Nina Easton, Leigh Gallagher, and Michal Lev-Ram—but don’t worry, I’m here to listen, not talk.)

Yesterday’s sessions, which began at 2 p.m. and went late into the evening, had so many highlights I can’t list them all here. (Check out our landing page for breaking coverage and read Kristen Bellstrom’s great write-up in The Broadsheet here.)

It began with four breakout sessions on, respectively, digital transformation, innovating in an uncertain world, building hot businesses, and navigating geopolitical hot spots. I was at the last of these, where former U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte, Citigroup Chief Global Political Analyst Tina Fordham, former U.S. Trade Rep and now-professor Susan Schwab, and former State Department official and current UN Special Envoy for Haiti Josette Sheeran painted a landscape that is seemingly plagued with geopolitical tripwires. Some takeaways: China stills see Russia as merely a “land of raw materials”; Russia’s Putin sees himself as a modern Peter the Great and uncannily knows what “boundaries” he can push and get away with it; North Korea’s Kim Jong Un is “not in the war business, but in the shakedown business”; and the U.S. is in danger of “sleepwalking” with these other three into a global conflagration, if we’re not careful. (Spoiler Alert: We’re not being careful.)

Among the day’s later standouts: U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, from the great state of Minnesota, gave a rousing talk and had many-a-whisperin’ “2020.” Jewel sang an unbelievable a capella rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and then Fortune’s Nina Easton led a conversation with first daughter Ivanka Trump, Deloitte CEO Cathy Engelbert, and Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson on one of the most challenging domestic issues of the next decade: retraining America’s workforce for the 21st century economy.

Monday was a great example of why Fortune’s annual ‘Most Powerful Women’ list—which gave rise to this gathering nearly two decades ago—is more important than ever. And Tuesday promises to be just as thought-provoking, if not more. Tune in to our livestream here.

Some key health-related news below.

Clifton Leaf, Editor in Chief, FORTUNE


Spark's gene therapy for blindness likely effective—at first. A preliminary Food and Drug Administration (FDA) review of biotech Spark Therapeutics' gene therapy to treat an inherited blindness-causing disease suggests the potentially milestone medicine is effective—at least at first. The question is whether or not the gene therapy has staying power down the line (an issue that's hobbled other hopefuls in the space). An FDA advisory panel will probably vote to recommend the treatment's approval in a few days, analysts expect. (Reuters)


California approves drug price transparency bill. California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed one of the country's most stringent drug price transparency bills into law, escalating a war on high drug prices that's been waged by Golden State lawmakers for several years. Under the new law, pharma companies will have to give a two-month notice for certain drug price increases and will have to explain the rationale behind the hikes. Furthermore, insurance companies will have to issue regular reports on how drug prices affect plan holders' premiums. (Wall Street Journal)


Hurricane season threatens saline supply from Puerto Rico. Hospitals are scrambling to make sure critical supplies of saline are available to patients in the wake of the devastating storms which have hit Puerto Rico—a major manufacturing center for the commonly-used medical product. Saline is used to make sure patients are hydrated and to dilute a variety of crucial medicines. (Washington Post)


Sheryl Sandberg: 'Blindspots' Are Getting In Our Way of Achieving Gender Equalityby Natasha Bach

AIG Says the Hurricane Season Will Cost It $3 Billionby Fortune Editors, Reuters

Here's Why Meg Whitman Says She Won't Run for Presidentby Barb Darrow

Walmart Says Online Sales Will Explode Next Year Amid War With Amazonby Phil Wahba

Produced by Sy Mukherjee

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