Good afternoon, readers.
Facebook is still trying to stem the flood of vaccine misinformation spread through its platform. The social media giant announced a new tweak that builds on its existing features to downplay spurious and sensationalist vaccine claims: A pop-up window that directs users to authoritative public health sources.
Under this new feature, a Facebook user who searches for information on vaccines will see a pop-up with links to the World Health Organization (WHO) or the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
“Looking for Vaccine Info?” the pop-up box asks. “When it comes to health, everyone wants reliable, up-to-date information. Learn why the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends vaccinations to prevent many diseases.”
That’s certainly a step in the right direction. Previously, Facebook moved to address ads on its platform that specifically target anti-vaxxer groups and to lower rankings for pages that promote such misinformation (though, it should be noted, the company took action after some heavy public and Congressional criticism).
But tackling vaccine misinformation on social media will still prove a difficult task given the profound difficulty of changing some people’s minds on the issue.
On another note… Check out Fortune‘s latest newsletter, The Loop. This weekly publication explores the business of sustainability and how executives approach environmental causes and their energy needs. Suffice to say, that’s a pretty critical issue for both the planet’s and public’s health. You can sign up here, and I hope you do.
Read on for the day’s news.
Sy Mukherjee, @the_sy_guy, email@example.com
Livongo unveils first post-IPO earnings, raises guidance. Digital chronic disease management firm Livongo, which went public on the Nasdaq this summer, has issued its first post-IPO earnings report. Second quarter earnings were up to $41 million, a 156% spike compared to the same period last year, leading the firm to boost its 2019 estimates to a range of $159 million to $162 million.
Cigna introduces plan to cover pricey gene therapies. Insurance giant Cigna has unveiled a plan to cover the costs of gene therapies - specialized treatments that have the potential to cure some patients entirely, but with some heavy sticker shock - entirely. The two treatments specifically targeted by Cigna are Spark Therapeutics' Luxturna, for a rare inherited form of blindness, and the most expensive drug (by list price) in the world, Novartis' $2.1 million spinal muscular atrophy therapy Zolgensma. The plan would reportedly eliminate any out-of-pocket costs for Cigna customers who have to use these medicines (and more gene therapies may eventually make it onto the list). (Reuters)
Who will be the next FDA commissioner? The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn't had a permanent head honcho since the surprise departure of Scott Gottlieb earlier this year. That may soon change. The Wall Street Journal reports that a short-list of contenders for the position include current, acting commissioner Ned Sharpless, oncologist Stephen Hahn of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, and Harvard professor Alexa Boer Kimball. (Wall Street Journal)
THE BIG PICTURE
Could going green lower hospital costs? A pair of health and business professors, respectively, are up with a fascinating commentary on Fortune hospitals can make an extra dent in the cost curve by being more environmentally conscious. For instance, the authors write: "Hospitals can both set environmental goals and save money. One study conducted by Health Care Without Harm found that energy and water reductions and more efficient purchasing in operating rooms could save U.S. hospitals $5.4 billion over 5 years, and $15 billion over 10 years." (Fortune)
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