Happy Friday, readers.
With the last day of April comes our last day (for now) of coming to your inbox daily. A major thanks to my colleagues current and past who have helped me craft this newsletter over the past month: David Z. Morris, Erika Fry, and Marco Quiroz-Gutierrez. I’ll be taking the helm again going forward and we’ll be going back to a weekly missive. So see you again on Thursday May 6 and each Thursday thereafter.
Speaking of events that occur on Thursdays… Yesterday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) addressed one of the longest-standing issues in tobacco regulation: Banning menthol flavored nicotine products.
It’s been a long time coming. In 2009, former President Barack Obama signed sweeping anti-tobacco legislation into law. It banned wide swaths of flavored tobacco products which might appeal to kids. But it left the key question of whether or not to include menthol in the bans up to further review by the FDA.
Well, on Thursday, the Biden administration officially proposed a ban on menthol cigarettes under the auspices of that more than decades-long law. The question, as my colleague Nicole Goodkind notes, is whether or not the tobacco lobby will derail or delay that effort now just as it did back then.
“Altria, the tobacco-maker behind Marlboro that holds a 26% share of the menthol market in the U.S., said that a ban on menthol cigarettes would lead to an illegal, secondary market without FDA regulation,” Nicole writes. “We share the common goal of moving adult smokers from cigarettes to potentially less harmful alternatives, but prohibition does not work. Criminalizing menthol will lead to serious unintended consequences,” the company said in a statement.
Of course, unintended consequences can go many ways. Menthol tobacco products are particularly popular among Black Americans, who also suffer from some of the highest rates of lung cancer in the country, especially Black men. To assuage fears of criminalizing individuals who use menthol, the administration said it would only be focusing on going after manufacturers, distributors, and retailers.
But a blow to the menthol market could hit tobacco giants where it really hurts, so expect a fight going forward.
Read on for the day’s news, and see you again next Thursday.
Dexcom bested Wall Street expectations. So why did its stock tumble? Dexcom, the medical device giant known for its continuous glucose monitoring devices that connect to smart phone apps, beat analyst expectations for first-quarter 2021 revenues. And yet, its stock fell more than 8% in Friday trading. Why? Well, the market is always volatile and not-always rational, so it's a bit unclear so far. But one common thesis is that the company's full-year guidance for 2021 is a bit below what Wall Street was expecting despite the earnings beat. Of course, such a slump can easily reverse itself in the coming months, as is fairly common in health care stocks. (Seeking Alpha)
Anxiety and its side effects. Any therapeutic or vaccine comes with the potential of side effects depending on your biology. But side effects, or medical effects in general, can be a bit cerebral (see: the placebo effect). A new Centers for Disease Control (CDC) analysis finds this may be the case with certain people who experience side effects after getting a COVID shot. It's a relatively small analysis, but it found that dozens of people across five states had adverse events from vaccines triggered by anxiety about getting them in the first place rather than the shots themselves. It's sort of a visceral reaction: Some people are just way more averse to needles than others. That's not to dismiss the very real side effects which may stem from these jabs (I'm pretty comfortable with vaccination and can report I experienced several unpleasant side effects for a few days from my own immunization odyssey), but one strange medical phenomenon to keep in mind. (Fortune)
THE BIG PICTURE
How are companies convincing workers to get vaccinated? Would a free t-shirt and water bottle convince you to get a COVID vaccine? How about paid time off to deal with side effects? Perhaps a cash bonus or stipend? Those are just some of the techniques employers are using to encourage immunizations in their workforces as they attempt to get people back into the office and await federal guidance on proper incentive measures over the next few weeks. “According to our research from earlier this year, we found that 88% of the employers were not offering or planning to offer any incentives to encourage employees to get the vaccine,” Amber Clayton, director of the Knowledge Center at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), tells me. “But for those who were, 6% of them are offering additional paid time off; 3% were offering gifts like gift cards and food vouchers; 2% were offering cash bonuses; and 1% were offering stipends.” Those numbers could quickly shift with the impending federal guidance, which will have to balance proper incentives, workplace safety, and medical privacy. (Fortune)
Amazon's blowout results fail to lift stock futures, by Bernhard Warner
Turkey wages war on cryptocurrencies, by Christiaan Hetzner
Controversy over Russia's COVID vaccine spurs lawsuit in Brazil, by David Meyer
Our mission to make business better is fueled by readers like you. To enjoy unlimited access to our journalism, subscribe today.