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Brainstorm Health: Anthem AI, Google Maps and the Opioid Crisis, Pre-Existing Conditions

Happy Friday, readers!

This coming weekend includes a marquee event in the fight against opioid addiction. Saturday, October 27 is the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take Back Day—dedicated to dumping unused, unneeded, and (to others) potentially harmful prescription medications that still may be lying around the house.

This year, though, tech giant Google is expanding its involvement in the effort. In fact, Google Maps will post 5,800 locations where people can dispose of powerful painkillers and other prescription drugs in a (relatively) new tool.

The product was first released back in April, and Google says that 50,000 Americans used the locator service on its very first day. “Every day 134 people die from opiate related overdoses—and misuse of prescription painkillers is a large contributor to this crisis,” says the company in a statement. “Thankfully, there is something we can do. One way that you can help reduce the potential misuse of drugs is to properly dispose of expired or unused medications.” The firm points out that expired medicines left lying around could also have environmental effects if they aren’t thrown out properly.

The National Take Back Day hours last between 10 am and 2 pm on Saturday. Furthermore, Google announced a partnership earlier this week with Walgreens, which has numerous drug disposal sites, to add such locations to Maps year-round.

Read on for the day’s news, and have a wonderful weekend.

Sy Mukherjee


Anthem reportedly snags a Google vet for its AI team. CNBC reports that insurance giant Anthem has poached Udi Manber, a former Google search engine chief, over to its artificial intelligence-focused unit. The details are pretty sparse at this time; but Manber will reportedly be tasked with leading a digital health unit that, ostensibly, will leverage population health data with the goal of improving patient outcomes (or, at the very least, improving Anthem’s margins in a high-tech fashion). (CNBC)


The pre-existing majority. A new report finds that 102 million people in the United States have a pre-existing medical condition. Conducted by Avalere, the study has implications for the upcoming midterm elections given that health care is one of the front and center policy issues on the line. The Trump administration and GOP Congress has repeatedly tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which outlawed discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, and weakened the law via administrative methods. Recently, however, lawmakers running for re-election have claimed they support the law’s pre-existing condition provisions (including several who voted to repeal the ACA altogether). (Fortune)


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Produced by Sy Mukherjee

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