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Brainstorm Health: Opioid Crisis Reckoning, Sanofi Dengue Vaccine, Human Trafficking

May 2, 2019, 11:53 PM UTC
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Good afternoon, readers.

John Kapoor, founder of Insys Therapeutics, was found guilty of racketeering (along with four co-defendants) by a Boston jury. Insys had been accused of bribing doctors to prescribe the powerful painkiller fentanyl and lying to insurance companies.

The conviction is a milestone in pharmaceutical prosecution—the first instance of major drug company executives taking a legal hit over their firms’ alleged tactics to sell addictive pain medication by any means possible, legal or otherwise.

“Today’s convictions mark the first successful prosecution of top pharmaceutical executives for crimes related to the illicit marketing and prescribing of opioids,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling in a statement following the decision. “Just as we would street-level drug dealers, we will hold pharmaceutical executives responsible for fueling the opioid epidemic by recklessly and illegally distributing these drugs, especially while conspiring to commit racketeering along the way.”

Pharmaceutical executives who emulated Kapoor’s and Insys’ tactics have reason to fear if the federal government continues down this path.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee


Sonos gets into the health study game. Wireless, smart speaker manufacturer Sonos is out with a new study analyzing audio's effects on people's daily lives. One tantalizing conclusion? Music is good for sex! Nearly 60% of people surveyed in Sonos' study said that the right kind of tuneage can amp things up in the bedroom (and generally reduce stress and anxiety). The company says its survey was based on some 12,000 respondents. (Venture Beat)


Sanofi's dengue vaccine gets FDA clearance—with restrictions. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has green lighted French drug giant Sanofi's dengue vaccine—but with some major caveats. The treatment has come under fire internationally (specifically in the Philippines) over post-marketing research that found it can actually worsen the disease when given to children who have never contracted dengue before. As such, Dengvaxia is only cleared for use U.S. regions where the disease is prevalent, and for patients who have had tests confirming they've contracted it previously.


The WHO doesn't have a code for human trafficking. My colleague Jaclyn Gallucci has an excellent piece on the World Health Organization's (WHO) mystifying lack of a diagnostic code for human trafficking—an issue that affects developed and developing countries alike and has a serious effect on both physical and mental health. “It is silly that we have codes for ‘hit by a spacecraft’ but not for ‘human trafficking,’ especially when we already have codes for domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse,” Hanni Stoklosa executive director of HEAL Trafficking and emergency physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, tells Jaclyn. Read the whole piece here. (Fortune)


Apple's Stock Price Is Rising, But for How Long? by Adam Lashinsky

Why Tesla Slashes Its Solar Panel Pricesby Don Reisinger

Beyond Meat Just Had the Best IPO of 2019by Bloomberg

Burger King's Unconventional 'Happy Meal'by Laura Stampler

Produced by Sy Mukherjee
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