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Brainstorm Health: Brexit Stockpile, Novartis Cell Therapy, San Francisco Soda Health Warnings

February 1, 2019, 10:26 PM UTC

Happy Friday, readers!

Elections – and referenda – have consequences. And the UK may soon be grappling with some dire ones for public health if lawmakers are unable to reach a deal on Brexit.

The specter of a so-called “hard Brexit” has already raised fears about intense disruptions to food and drug supply chains, leading some to even stockpile medications, as Reuters reports.

The vast majority of drugs available via the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) come from the EU. Shortly after the decision to leave the European Union, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) – essentially Europe’s version of the Food and Drug Administration – decided to relocate from London to Amsterdam.

With Brexit less than two months away, the pressure is on for the country’s health agencies to make sure ample supplies of life-saving medicines are available for at least a few months. But worried patients have reportedly begun stockpiling treatments themselves. That, itself, presents another wrinkle, as public health officials noted that hoarding up drugs could exacerbate shortages for other patients.

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

Sy Mukherjee


Novartis' pioneering cell therapy finally gets a broader UK nod. After facing an initial rejection by NICE, the UK's drug watchdog, over cost concerns, Novartis' Kymriah - the first-ever CAR-T treatment for cancer, which re-engineers patients' own immune cells to fight cancerous cells - has received a green light from the agency to treat certain adult patients with forms of lymphoma. Kymriah had already received clearance in the country for certain pediatric and young adult patients. (PharmaTimes)


Big Soda gets a win over San Francisco in court. The beverage industry notched a legal victory over San Francisco public health advocates championed an ordinance requiring health warnings on sugary beverages. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals this week ruled that the ordinance violated the 1st Amendment. The ordinance would have required the beverages to carry labeling reading, "WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay." (Fortune)


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Elon Musk Wants to Build a New Particle Collider for CERN, by Hallie Detrick

Corporations Are Investing in Wind and Solar Energy Now More Than Ever, by Renae Reints

How the Government Shutdown Did (and Didn't) Affect U.S. Employment, by Katia Dmitrieva and Bloomberg

Produced by Sy Mukherjee

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