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The Most Powerful Women in Health Care: Brainstorm Health

September 24, 2019, 10:06 PM UTC

Good afternoon, readers.

As I mentioned yesterday, Fortune is out with its 22nd list of the Most Powerful Women in Business. This morning, we added a cohort of non-U.S. based female leaders—the international branch of MPW.

Hats off to our colleagues who put together these lists and our incredible Most Powerful Women issue. As you might suspect, several health care leaders made the cut.

On the U.S. side: Gail Boudreaux, president and CEO of insurance giant Anthem, rang in at number 5, in part thanks to her efforts in digital health; Karen Lynch of Aetna (now part of CVS) placed at number 17 and will be responsible for the insurance unit of the consolidated company; a pair of Johnson & Johnson executives (Jennifer Taubert, who leads the drug giant’s pharmaceutical business, and Ashley McEvoy of the medical devices arm) are also on the list.

And then there’s the international side, where a health care executive—and one of the most prominent C-suite chiefs in the biopharma industry—took the number two spot: Emma Walmsley, CEO of British drug giant GlaxoSmithKline, who has worked to transform the core business strategy of her company.

A newcomer this year? Susanne Schaffert, who’s been leading Novartis’ pioneering cancer drug unit since January.

I encourage you to check out both of these lists and the numerous, incredible features that go along with them.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee, @the_sy_guy,


Facebook just bought a brain control startup. Facebook has a new toy to play with—a brain computing startup called CTRL-labs, which the company will snatch up in a deal valued between $500 million and $1 billion. Here's what a Facebook VP had to say about the firm: "You have neurons in your spinal cord that send electrical signals to your hand muscles telling them to move in specific ways such as to click a mouse or press a button. The wristband will decode those signals and translate them into a digital signal your device can understand, empowering you with control over your digital life. It captures your intention so you can share a photo with a friend using an imperceptible movement or just by, well, intending to." We'll circle back on the privacy implications at a later time. (Fortune)

Peloton for all? My colleague David Morris reads the tea leaves in Peloton's IPO filing and finds some striking similarities to a Tesla-style operation: "Hit the high-end, high-profit portion of the market first, then go broader," David writes. Peloton's notoriously high-priced, high-end, digitally connected bikes have been scrutinized over their niche appeal; but, if the company really does go the expansion route for more cost-conscious consumers, we could see the narrative flip. (Fortune)


Ionis-linked Akcea defenestrates its leadership team. In what is maybe not the best sign of things to come, Akcea Therapeutics, which is majority owned by the biotech Ionis Pharmaceuticals, lost its CEO, president, and chief operating officer in one fell swoop this week—a hat trick of an executive shakeup amid struggles with larger competitors. The company didn't officially list its rationale for the departures. (San Diego Tribune)


CDC: Expect hundreds of more vaping-related illnesses. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are predicting hundreds of more reports of vaping-related illnesses in the coming weeks (on top of 530 people sickened across 38 states so far, as well as nine reported deaths). The medical source of these illnesses is still under investigation, but the CDC's Anne Schuchat suggests that certain compounds such as "nicotine salts" in the latest generation of vaping devices may play a part in this crisis. (Reuters)


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PepsiCo's Responsibilitiesby Alan Murray

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