Good morning ... This is it: my last Vitals. After almost 2 years, I admit I'm pretty excited to start my workdays a little later than 5:30am, but I sincerely will miss serving such a smart and engaged group of readers every day. Thank you for all your tips, constructive criticism, and suggestions for new ways to think about these complicated issues.
The good news for all of us is that Caitlin Owens takes over this newsletter beginning Monday. Caitlin is great. Y'all should be nice to her and send her good tips, at email@example.com. And you can always reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
In the political and policy debate over health care costs, employers have more muscle than they want to flex — at least for the time being. But a growing number of experts, from both parties, would like to see businesses step it up.
When we talk about health care stakeholders, we too often focus solely on the industry, and sleep on employers.
Between the lines: Employers are the core of the health care system, but health care is generally not their core focus.
That may change. It may have to. As prices keep rising, and as insurers keep complaining that a lack of competition among hospitals and drugmakers is thwarting their ability to negotiate, the calls for state or federal intervention keep getting louder.
The big question: Will employers reach a tipping point and join that chorus? They'd be awfully persuasive if they do.
What they're saying: "I think you're going to see more and more pressure, and even openness to public policy interventions that take advantage of negotiations," Democratic health care strategist Chris Jennings told me.
Photo: Joby Sessions/T3 Magazine via Getty Images
ICYMI yesterday, Amazon's Alexa has now added some new functionalities that comply with HIPAA, the health care privacy law.
Why it matters: These applications themselves aren't particularly earth-shattering, but just getting over the hump of HIPAA compliance is a big deal for Alexa.
Go deeper: Amazon's buyout of PillPack is just a start
Amgen and Novartis jointly developed and sold the first FDA-approved drug to prevent migraines, which hit the market last year. But now their alliance is crumbling and they're suing each other, my colleague Bob Herman reports.
The big picture: Everyone is so mad. These pharma giants are throwing every legal punch possible because there is so much money at stake.
The intrigue: Everything revolves around the contracts that Amgen and Novartis signed, which outlined how they would collaborate on research and marketing for Aimovig.
When it first launched in 2014, Blink Health was supposed to disrupt the pharmaceutical supply chain, allowing patients to pay a rock-bottom price for generic drugs online, then pick them up at a nearby pharmacy.
What went wrong, according to Bloomberg:
The bottom line: Health care does not disrupt easily, and that's part of the reason we focus so much on companies like Amazon — big companies have deep pockets and a general ability to be the bully, which seem to be necessary in order to wrestle some market share away from the established players.
Cyberattacks against health care providers are dangerous and increasingly common, but most hospitals and doctors aren't prepared for that threat, The Verge reports.
Details, from Axios' Caitlin Owens:
Between the lines: Although there is a divide between clinicians focused on patient care and cyber experts who want to secure hospital systems, there's a strong case for integrating those concerns.
Go deeper: Health care data hacks are on the rise
Correction: This post has been updated to reflect the fact that Blink Health and MedImpact settled their lawsuits.