Brainstorm Health: Health Care Business Leaders, FDA E-Cigs Ban, Health Care on the Blockchain

Good afternoon, readers.

This morning, Fortune unveiled our latest Businessperson of the Year list. It encompasses 20 individuals whose companies have delivered solid returns in profits, revenues, and stock growth (including over the past 12 months and three years)—and, in some instances, have some truly compelling backgrounds.

You can check out the entire rankings here. But there are two health care leaders on the list worth highlighting: Illumina’s Francis deSouza and Intuitive Surgical’s Gary Guthart.

On a biographical level, deSouza and Guthart could hardly be more different. DeSouza is an Ethiopian-born immigrant who lived in both Addis Ababa and Dubai before arriving at MIT as an undergrad when he was just 16, and now heading the go-to genomic sequencing firm; Guthart is a tech pro who helped dream up a new landscape of robot-assisted surgeries before making that technology an entrenched, and ever-popular, reality.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about deSouza’s and Guthart’s companies is their ability to penetrate their respective markets. Illumina is teamed up with pharmaceutical giants like Amgen and consumer-focused brands like 23andMe alike in the genomics space. Intuitive has been aggressively expanding its minimally invasive surgery tech to international markets and a growing number of surgery types (last year, I wrote about Intuitive’s sci-fi style robot surgeons in a feature for Fortune).

Read on for the day’s news.


Health care and the blockchain. CB Insights is out with a new report on the potential the digital ledger technology blockchain could have in the health care industry. There's a lot to parse in it (and you'll have to provide your email to download the full report)—but here's a topline takeaway: "Use cases for blockchain will start in small projects that reduce duplicative work but can eventually shift to a system where patients control access rights to their data." Now wouldn't that be something! More on this later.


United Therapeutics, Arena rise on license agreement. Shares of United Therapeutics rose 5% while Arena Pharmaceuticals soared 22% Thursday after the companies announced a licensing deal in the pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) space. United will be dishing out $800 million in upfront cash to Arena, with executives expressing outright confidence in the latter firm's PAH technology, and its potential to compete against existing products such as best sellers from Johnson & Johnson. (BioSpace)


Long-awaited e-cig rules roll out. As expected, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has rolled out proposed rules that would largely make e-cigarette sales at convenience stores a thing of the past. The agency is moving to ban flavored vape products from convenience stores (and, eventually, menthol cigarettes, too) and limit them to certain online vendors and specialty tobacco shops as part of an effort to prevent children from getting hooked on nicotine. “I will not allow a generation of children to become addicted to nicotine through e-cigarettes,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb in a statement. “We’ll take whatever action is necessary to stop these trends from continuing.” (Fortune)

Time off for organ donors. Children's Mercy hospital of Kansas has a novel idea—maybe people who decide to donate their organs should, well, get some extra time off for their efforts. "Children’s Mercy employees who agree to serve as a bone marrow or solid organ donor may use up to 40 hours of additional Extended Illness Time when they qualify for a leave of absence due to their inability to work during and immediately following the donation," according to a spokesperson.


Meet the CEO of the Insurance Company Growing Faster Than Appleby Aric Jenkins

How Mark Zuckerberg's Folly Was Revealedby Adam Lashinsky

Stan Lee's Marvel Empire Was Fueled By Creativity—And Complicated from the Startby Dan Reilly

The Quest to Make Cow-Free Milk Take a Big Step Forwardby Beth Kowitt

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