Good morning ... Join me this afternoon for a Reddit AMA about the Affordable Care Act under President Trump (and, I assume, some other health care topics). We'll get started at 3pm and I'd love to hear your questions.
Photo: David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention yesterday confirmed what experts have been warning: Fentanyl is not only deadly on its own, but is also contributing to other drugs' high death rates.
The big picture: As the nation's addiction crisis has unfolded, the No. 1 cause of overdose deaths has shifted from prescription drugs to heroin to fentanyl. And now cocaine — a stimulant, making it the odd man out — is also seeing a spike.
What they're saying: "Fentanyl overdose deaths, of course, keep going up. Cocaine overdose deaths [are] going up. The question we really have to get to the bottom of is: Is much of that [from] the lacing of cocaine with fentanyl? We certainly have seen some of that," HHS Secretary Alex Azar said at an Axios event yesterday.
By the numbers: While only about 1,600 overdose deaths were attributable to fentanyl in 2011 and 2012, this skyrocketed to more than 18,000 in 2016.
Related: Fentanyl is so potent (and so easy to smuggle into the U.S.) that now experts are worried about it as a potential weapon for terrorists, Bloomberg's Anna Edney reports.
Apple quietly employs dozens of doctors, "an indication that Apple is serious about helping customers manage disease, and not just wellness or fitness," CNBC's Christina Farr reports.
Why it matters: Apple has already begun to roll out a handful of health-related offerings — mainly its tool for electronic medical records and the new heart-monitoring capabilities on Apple Watch. But having a fuller staff of doctors on board (good ones!) signals bigger aspirations.
Between the lines: Employing doctors isn't just useful for managing directly health-related products, Farr notes.
A reminder from Axios' Bob Herman: Next week, CVS Health and Aetna officials have to convince a federal judge in court that their closed merger is legitimate and that the settlement terms negotiated by the Department of Justice are fine and dandy.
Threat level: Judge Richard Leon, who gave the final seal of approval for the AT&T-Time Warner merger, likely can’t tell CVS and Aetna to unscramble their merger completely, said Andrea Agathoklis Murino, a former DOJ antitrust attorney now at the law firm Goodwin Procter. “But he can say the remedy was insufficient.”
An incoming member of Congress says he believes vaccines may cause autism, despite an overwhelming scientific consensus to the contrary.
Rep.-elect Mark Green, a Republican from Tennessee who is also a doctor, said he believes the CDC has "maybe fraudulently managed" data about the safety of vaccines. The Nashville Tennessean reported Green's remarks.
Reality check: The CDC has said unequivocally that vaccines do not cause autism, and any number of public health experts have reached the same findings. Failing or refusing to vaccinate children only allows otherwise preventible diseases to spread.