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Brainstorm Health: Prime Day FOMO, Blood Pressure Drug Recall, Unnecessary Antibiotics

Happy Monday, readers. This is Sy.

It’s hectic times here this week, so a short one for you today (we’ll be back to regularly scheduled programming tomorrow).

This afternoon, I sat down with Deborah Waterhouse, who has served as CEO of ViiV Healthcare since April 2017. ViiV is tackling the scourge of HIV/AIDS; it’s a joint operation that’s overwhelmingly run by U.K. pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline alongside minority stakes from Pfizer and Japan’s Shionogi. The outfit’s approach to HIV treatment, which includes both an aggressive R&D philosophy and a global business model that allows patients in poor nations to afford life-saving treatments, catapulted GSK to the top spot in Fortune’s 2016 Change the World list, a collection of companies that are doing well by doing good.

Waterhouse and I touched on a number of fascinating issues, including: the state of HIV drug development and the prospect of a “functional cure”; the incentive systems that drive research in infectious diseases (and how they sometimes fail); and how difficult it can be to get certain countries to adopt programs that could potentially help millions of their HIV-afflicted people because of persisting stigma.

I’ll have more for you on our conversation soon. In the meantime, read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee
@the_sy_guy
sayak.mukherjee@fortune.com

DIGITAL HEALTH

The FOMO psychology of Prime Day. Unless you’ve been living under a digital rock, you’ve probably been bombarded with reminders that today is Amazon’s “Prime Day”–the tech giant’s equivalent of an online fire sale (which has also had some, uh, issues today). But setting aside the event’s economic significance, Michael R. Solomon, a professor of marketing in the Haub School of Business at Saint Joseph’s University, has a fascinating guest post up at Fortune on the psychology of Prime Day. Here’s a key takeaway: “Amazon gives people good reason to prime their consumption pumps. Other companies can follow the same basic script if they’re able to put their own spin on it: Own or invent a specific time, place, or event that isn’t already taken; stoke the viral fire; inject just enough scarcity and unpredictability into the mix to get that purchase momentum rolling; and sit back and watch as FOMO [fear of missing out] does the heavy lifting for you.” (Fortune)

INDICATIONS

Cancer fears prompt blood pressure medication recall. A number of generic drug companies including Teva Pharmaceuticals have issued a voluntary recall of products containing valsartan, which is used in medicines to treat heart failure and high blood pressure. “We have carefully assessed the valsartan-containing medications sold in the United States, and we’ve found that the valsartan sold by these specific companies does not meet our safety standards,” Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a statement. “This is why we’ve asked these companies to take immediate action to protect patients.” The recalls were prompted by the presence of an impurity that public health officials said is a probable cancer-causing agent, reportedly caused by certain manufacturing practices. (Fortune)

THE BIG PICTURE

Urgent care and the overprescription of antibiotics. Common infectious diseases like the flu are viral, not bacterial, in nature. That means they can’t be treated with the use of antibiotics, which are specifically meant to ward off bacterial infections. Yet, 46% of patients who went to an urgent care clinic for conditions like the flu or bronchitis were given antibiotic prescriptions, according to a new government study—which would do nothing to help them, but could potentially contribute to the rise of antibiotic resistance. (Reuters)

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

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