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Good afternoon, readers.
The U.S. Senate on Thursday confirmed a new commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Dr. Stephen Hahn, a renowned cancer doctor widely expected to win the role, got the position in a 72-18 vote.
While the sailing was relatively smooth in an era of choppy partisan waters, there were some tough questions that faced Hahn, the chief medical executive at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas—one of the most famous cancer institutes in the world.
Foremost was the question of how Hahn would approach the issue of e-cigarette regulation. While questioned by the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) committee, Hahn said that there were a number of issues that “will come before the commissioner that are complex and engender honest disagreement.”
But he’s also won plaudits from patient groups given his history of supporting cancer patients. An 18-5 vote in the HELP committee helped him get a 72-18 vote in the full chamber. Now, Hahn will be responsible for one of the most important regulatory agencies in the United States.
Another note: Hahn, after acting FDA director Ned Sharpless, will be yet another oncologist appointed to the role (Sharpless used to run the National Cancer Institute before taking over at the agency).
Read on for the day’s news.
Pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts is shacking up with digital health companies. Express Scripts appears to be throwing a bit of a lifeline to digital health firms, creating a new formulary that would benefit companies like Livongo, Omada, Propeller Health, and others. The so-called "Express Scripts Digital Health Formulary" (apropos) would encompass more than a dozen digital health firms, seemingly in competition with rivals such as CVS. (Becker's Hospital Review)
Sarepta surges on early FDA approval for Duchenne drug. In after-hours trading, Sarepta Therapeutics surged as much as 27% after the FDA granted the biotech an early approval for its muscular dystrophy drug Vyondys 53. We'll have a lot more to say on this in the coming days–but it's a pretty significant development given Sarepta's rollercoaster history with the FDA (and specifically in the muscular dystrophy field).
THE BIG PICTURE
Businesses tackle the growing threat of addiction on U.S. workers. My colleague Nicole Goodkind has an excellent update on how American companies are addressing the crisis of addiction among their workforces. The piece is based on a great panel from Fortune's Most Powerful Women Next Gen conference in California—and, to that end, check out my own write-up of the new business of fertility in the modern age. (Fortune)
The U.K. Election Means Big Change for Business—No Matter Who Wins, by David Meyer
The Most Important Attributes for Architects in the Modern Age, by Clay Chandler
How Equality Sparks Innovation, by Alan Murray
U.S. and China Agree to a 'Phase One' Trade Deal, by Bloomberg