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Brainstorm Health: CVS Aetna Deal, Apple Watch EKG App, New York’s Rats

November 30, 2017, 6:35 PM UTC

Hey there, readers! This is Sy.

A potential, transformative deal between CVS Health and health insurance giant Aetna may well be going forward, according to the Wall Street Journal. Both companies have been pretty mum on the potential acquisition, which some have considered a pre-emptive strike against the specter of Amazon entering the retail pharmacy space.

The deal would be massive in scope. The Journal reports that it could be worth more than $66 billion following “advanced stages of negotiation” between the two firms. And, if it ultimately materializes, it could give CVS a chance to access some 23 million Aetna plan holders for their prescription pharmacy needs.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee


This company just got the first FDA clearance for an Apple Watch medical accessory. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared the first-ever medical device accessory for the Apple Watch—AliveCor's "KardiaBand," a literal EKG band that can snap on to the smartwatch. The KardiaBand can be used to capture a 30-second EKG (which measures the heart's electrical activity) via a sensor, and users also get a visual readout on the Apple Watch itself.


The FDA continues its quest to speed drug approvals. The FDA is making more moves to speed drug approvals under the tenure of new commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb. The agency is proposing the use of (very) early clinical data to speed drugs to the market, particularly cancer treatments. But some health experts caution that such an accelerated approach, which both the industry and patient advocates may laud, would have to be accompanied by strict scrutiny of the treatments after they've been approved. (Reuters)


A glimpse into the genetics of New York's rats. In what one of my colleagues referred to as "the most NYC thing ever," researchers have concluded that New York's formidable uptown and downtown rat populations are genetically distinct. One likely cause? Midtown, which the researchers hypothesized is too commercial and non-suburban for rodents to feel comfortable, leading to two distinct uptown and downtown clans. (The Atlantic)


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Produced by Sy Mukherjee

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