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The U.S. May Have Had Its First Vaping-Related Death: Brainstorm Health

Happy Friday, readers!

Earlier this week, we noted that there have been some 100 cases of mysterious lung illnesses potentially linked to vaping. The outbreak has been concerning enough to attract the attention of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

In an unfortunate turn, one individual has died from this serious lung condition, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) - potentially the first ever case of a vaping-related death in the U.S. And the number of reported cases has swelled to nearly 200.

"The severity of illness people are experiencing is alarming and we must get the word out that using e-cigarettes and vaping can be dangerous," IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement. "We requested a team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help us investigate these cases and they arrived in Illinois on Tuesday."

It's important to note that details are sparse at the moment. The IDPH didn't specify much about the patient who died, and it took pains to clarify that public health officials simply don't know whether or not the lung disease cases may be linked to illicit THC-containing cartridges or off-brand vaping products.

But at least one of the approximately 100 patients reportedly affected said he had bought a THC-containing vape cartridge off the street, and use of vaping products appears to be the unifying thread among the victims so far.

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

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

DIGITAL HEALTH

Doctors don’t feel like they have the tools to achieve “zero harm.” A new study conducted by the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare finds that nearly 2 million health care professionals (or about 11% of the total provider pool) don’t feel like they have the tools to achieve “zero harm” – a critical industry-wide goal to ensure that patients in the hospital don’t suffer from preventable causes of harm that worsens their disease. A large part of the problem explored by the survey, according to Anne Marie Benedicto, vice president of the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare, is that hospital leadership often just isn’t committed to the goal. This is also an area where data technology and analytics can help prevent patient suffering by facilitating more streamlined workflows.

INDICATIONS

FDA homes in on Novartis’ delay in reporting alleged data manipulation. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is questioning why drug giant Novartis took nearly two months to investigate a known data manipulation issue involving a regulatory submission for Zolgensma, a gene therapy with a $2.1 million list price (and thus, technically, the world’s most expensive drug), according to the Wall Street Journal. The timing – who knew what, and when, and what they did about it – has become a central part of this issue, leading to the exits of several officials from Novartis’ subsidiary AveXis, which discovered the drug. (Wall Street Journal)

THE BIG PICTURE

Good news, and not-so-good news, on the Ebola outbreak. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that the Ebola outbreak in the Congo appears to be under control in certain regions such as the city of Goma – but that ongoing violent conflicts and social media-disseminated misinformation have led to flareups and prevented treatment in others. To date, some 3,000 cases and nearly 2,000 deaths have been reported in the latest outbreak. (Reuters)

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