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Brainstorm Health: Verily Pharma Partners, ‘Conscience’ Clause Lawsuits, Merck’s Mulligan

May 21, 2019, 11:55 PM UTC
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Good afternoon, readers.

I read something pretty troubling (if not surprising) this morning. And, yes, it has to do with my generation, AKA the millennial folk.

You may have heard that American health care is an unadulterated mess, and that messiness forces millions of people to make tough decisions when it comes to their finances. Millennials are no exception to that dilemma, according to new research published by Transamerica Center for Health Studies (TCHS).

The report has plenty of fascinating tidbits about the so-called “digital generation’s” approach to medicine. For instance, millennials tend not to go to the doctor’s office, have far less trust in U.S. health care than previous cohorts, and place preventive health and self-care above all else in their hierarchy of priorities.

But this isn’t just a random whim of 20- and 30-somethings. The behavior is influenced by factors like unaffordable medical costs, which, according to the study, force certain young people to take extraordinary measures relative to other generations.

“Millennials with significant out-of-pocket healthcare expenses are most likely to pay these expenses with savings (52% vs. 46% of Gen X and 46% of Boomers), credit cards (44% vs. 38% of Gen X and 33% of Boomers), or 401k withdrawals (16% vs. 6% of Gen X and 3% of Boomers), and are less likely to pay with disposable income (29% vs. 38% of Gen X and 40% of Boomers),” write the authors.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee


Verily's rock star pharma crew. Alphabet life sciences arm Verily has assembled an impressive team of drug making partners to support its Project Baseline initiative, a program that aims to keep track of key biometrics over the long term. The value proposition for the pharma companies (including Pfizer, Otsuka, Novartis, and Sanofi) is simple: Leverage "real world" data into clinical trials in order to streamline the discovery and development process. (How that works out in the end is a bigger, and yet unanswered, question.)


Merck gets a mulligan on Fosamax cases. The Supreme Court has given drug giant Merck a do-over of sorts to avoid litigation targeting the company's osteoporosis drug Fosamax. Merck has been accused of failing to notify patients of the risks associated with taking the drug, specifically of debilitating thigh bone fractures. On Monday, SCOTUS ordered a lower court to reconsider an opinion to let the suits continue; Merck has argued they should not since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had not allowed the company to include a relevant warning on the label. (Reuters)


States, cities launch suits against the 'conscience clause.' A coalition of cities and states led by California and New York are suing the Trump administration over a so-called "conscience clause" rule that would allow doctors and nurses to refuse abortion care based on their personal beliefs. The plaintiffs are seeking an injunction against the rule, which critics say would allow medical professionals to discriminate against patients. (Reuters)


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Produced by Sy Mukherjee
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