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Good morning, readers.
Some busy times here with the cascade of news surrounding the coronavirus (stay tuned for a big dispatch on that soon—and follow all of Fortune‘s coverage of this public health threat here).
But I did want to share an interesting digital health development. Amazon, which has been steadily expanding its medical ambitions via its moves into the online pharmacy space and, notably, HIPAA compliance for its voice-activated Alexa service, has struck a new medical information partnership with First Databank.
With this alliance, Alexa will be able to answer questions about drug safety, side effects, and drug-on-drug interactions.
“We are proud to bring this essential component of our drug databases directly to consumers through Amazon’s now-ubiquitous and helpful voice-activated technology,” said Bob Katter, president of First Databank, in a statement.
Read on for the day’s news.
VistaScan gets FDA clearance for smartphone ultrasounds. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted clearance to Emagine Solutions Technology’s smartphone ultrasound application, dubbed the VistaScan mobile ultrasound system. To be clear, it’s not like physicians can just wave their smartphones over a patient—there are probes that must be linked to the tech. But it does allow them to see ultrasound images in real time on ultrasounds and tablets, which can prove critical during an emergency situation. (Medgadget)
Novartis’ Sandoz unit to pay $195 million fine in landmark antitrust case. Sandoz, the generic drug arm of Swiss pharma giant Novartis, will pay a nearly $200 million fine over a price fixing scandal that’s been brewing for more than six years. Sandoz will have to admit guilt as part of the settlement, and the Justice Department says the fine is the largest of its kind for a domestic antitrust suit. (The Associated Press)
THE BIG PICTURE
Supreme Court to take up high stakes Obamacare case (again). To use an outdated reference, Obamacare is a flat circle. Yes, the Affordable Care Act, signed into law ten years ago, is heading to the Supreme Court yet again. The Trump administration has been supporting a lawsuit to scrap the entirety of the law after the repeal of its individual insurance mandate. What the justices will focus on in this latest challenge to the ACA is whether or not that clause is “severable” from the rest of the health law, including its protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions and expansion of Medicaid.
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Everything you wanted to know about Super Tuesday but were afraid to ask, by Nicole Goodkind