Countries Are Losing ‘Measles Free’ Designation and the U.S. Could Be Next: Brainstorm Health

August 29, 2019, 10:00 PM UTC

Good afternoon, readers.

Before the Labor Day weekend begins, let’s start with an alarming story (don’t worry, Friday’s essay will be significantly less dire before we go on a brief hiatus next Monday).

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Thursday that four European countries previously considered to be free of measles have lost that coveted health status. “[For] the first time since the verification process began in the region in 2012, four countries (Albania, Czechia, Greece, and the United Kingdom) lost their measles elimination status,” the global health agency reported.

This issue has been tied closely to growing anti-vaccination sentiment in a number of nations driven by disinformation campaigns on social media. And the U.S., which claimed to have eliminated measles nearly 20 years ago (meaning, a one-year period without a persistent spread in infections), could be the next country to make the list.

CNN reports that there is now a “reasonable chance” the measles-elimination designation will go by the wayside in America as the number of confirmed measles cases crossed 1,200, for the year, this week.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee, @the_sy_guy,


American Well: Two-thirds of Americans want to use telehealth. Less than 10% have actually tried it. A new survey from telehealth giant American Well confirms what we've known for a while now: Americans really want to experiment with telemedicine services... but simply haven't had the opportunities to do so. According to the report, 66% of surveyed consumers said they'd be willing to use telehealth and digital doctor visits, yet just 8% had actually tried it out. And there are plenty of fascinating nuances here—for instance, younger Americans put an emphasis on telehealth's potential for mental health treatment, whereas older populations prioritize chronic care management and prescription drug renewals. (American Well)


AbbVie officially ditches Rova-T. Drug giant AbbVie has officially abandoned its beleaguered, late-stage cancer drug hopeful Rova-T, which the company snatched up in a $5.8 billion acquisition of biotech Stemcentrx nearly three years ago (to the chagrin of many an investor). As I reported earlier this year in a piece on AbbVie and its superstar treatment Humira, the world's best-selling drug, the Rova-T pickup has been indicative of the company's pipeline struggles in certain therapeutic areas. (Reuters)


Juul responds to increasing scrutiny with new ID scan requirement for retailers. Facing fire from regulators and lawmakers, vaping and e-cigarette giant Juul is taking proactive measures to assure the public it's a responsible nicotine product distributor. By mid-2021, the company says it will require retailers to scan would-be consumers' IDs at the point of sale in order to authorize the transaction—an effort meant to cut down on teens' use of the products, which has exploded in recent years. Juul, which has been accused of targeting young people with its flavored nicotine devices, says that retailers that don't comply will be cut off. (Fortune)


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