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Brainstorm Health: Biden Cancer Summit, Mistreating Obesity, AstraZeneca in China

Hello, readers! This is Sy.

Leaving you with a short one today—I’m traveling to D.C. for the Biden Cancer Summit, a project of the Biden Cancer Initiative, to moderate a panel on innovation in cancer care, drug development, and research.

The innovation panel will take place tomorrow at 12:50 PM EST, and I’ll have the pleasure of overseeing a discussion with some notable names in the medical, life sciences, and biopharmaceutical venture space: Renowned breast cancer oncologist Dr. Laura Esserman of UCSF, CRIPSP gene-editing wunderkind Dr. Feng Zhang, and New Enterprise Associates principal Bibhash Mukhopadhyay.

It should make for a fascinating and informative talk. If you care to follow along, the Biden Cancer Initiative will be live streaming the event on Friday. And even if you can’t (no hard feelings), I’ll report back on what I learned from my conversation with these leaders—and from the summit at large—here next week.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee
@the_sy_guy
sayak.mukherjee@fortune.com

DIGITAL HEALTH

AstraZeneca’s digital offensive in China. Reuters has an intriguing report on British drug maker AstraZeneca’s machinations in China. It’s an effort that includes using AI to make ambulance pickups for chest pain patients more efficient, provide sharper cancer diagnostics, and more—all as part of a project to “move from simply supplying drugs to become a broad healthcare provider in China,” according to Reuters. (Reuters)

INDICATIONS

Rivals to the world’s best-selling drug. In 2017, AbbVie’s Humira rang in $18.4 billion in sales of its flagship treatment, the arthritis and psoriasis drug Humira. Yes, that’s billions with a capital B. Which is why the company is dead set on protecting that asset by any means possible—especially as an increasing number of rivals burst onto the scene. The European Union this week approved a fifth Humira copycat, this one from Mylan and Fujifilm Kyowa Kirin Biologics. AbbVie’s primary European patent on Humira expires in October. (Reuters)

THE BIG PICTURE

The evolving view of obesity. HuffPost Highline has some essential reading on the medical community’s approach to obesity—and how that approach may be deeply misguided given a growing mountain of evidence about its health effects. One key section of the deep dive, which is worth reading in full: “The second big lesson the medical establishment has learned and rejected over and over again is that weight and health are not perfect synonyms. Yes, nearly every population-level study finds that fat people have worse cardiovascular health than thin people. But individuals are not averages: Studies have found that anywhere from one-third to three-quarters of people classified as obese are metabolically healthy. They show no signs of elevated blood pressure, insulin resistance or high cholesterol. Meanwhile, about a quarter of non-overweight people are what epidemiologists call “the lean unhealthy.” A 2016 study that followed participants for an average of 19 years found that unfit skinny people were twice as likely to get diabetes as fit fat people. Habits, no matter your size, are what really matter.” (HuffPost)

REQUIRED READING

Why This VC Is Pouring Millions Into Startups Building a ‘Sci-Fi Future’by Polina Marinova

The War on Global Poverty May Be Stallingby Lucas Laursen

Why Aurora Cannabis Was Halted on Robinhoodby Kevin Kelleher

Stacey Abrams: Women Can—And Will—Hold as Many Top Jobs as Menby Stacey Abrams

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

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