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California’s Gambit to Keep Its Doctors: Brainstorm Health

Hello and happy hump day, readers!

It's no secret that America has a doctor shortage. Rural areas of the country, and plenty of places in between, must grapple with a dearth of physicians, and patients often have to drive miles out of their way in order to contact a health care provider.

The irony is that there's actually a boom in the job market for physicians. But, as my colleague Chris Morris reports, things can get complicated in even the most populous of states. Case in point: California, which is now offering to pay off medical school debt in hopes that physicians who serve low-income patients on programs like Medicaid don't leave the state.

" To qualify for the program, physicians and dentists must pledge 30% of their caseloads will be focused on low-income Medi-Cal patients for a five year period. That might mean a lower initial salary, but it also eliminates debt that can run several hundred thousands of dollars per doctor," Chris writes.

California has one of the more generous approaches to public health policy in the country, including coverage for young undocumented immigrants.

Read on for the day's news.

Sy Mukherjee, @the_sy_guy, sayak.mukherjee@fortune.com

DIGITAL HEALTH

Withings launches its new connected blood pressure monitor… In Europe. Withings has officially launched its digitally connected blood pressure monitor (which interfaces with devices such as the Apple Watch Series 4), BPM Core, in Europe. An American launch is expected in the third quarter of the year pending FDA clearance, the company says. BPM Core can track various cardiovascular biometrics including heart rate and blood pressure. (9to5Mac)

INDICATIONS

Merck wins FDA approval for urinary, abdominal infections. U.S.-based drug giant Merck has received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for Recarbrio – a therapy that can be used to fight urinary tract and abdominal infections. The drug is a combination therapy that includes two different antibiotics; In the industry at large, there hasn’t been a huge appetite for developing new treatments against infectious diseases and “superbugs.” Merck appears to be taking a different tact.

THE BIG PICTURE

U.S. overdose deaths drop. And now for a bit of truly good news – the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on Wednesday said that drug overdose deaths in the U.S. dropped for the first time in almost 20 years in 2018. The death toll from overdoses sank 5% compared to the previous year, the agency announced – a possible sign that efforts to limit the use of powerful opioids may be paying public health dividends. (Reuters)

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