Good morning. Not only are robocalls extremely annoying, but it also turns out that they're dangerous when hospitals are flooded with them, WashPost reports.
Today's word count: 741 words, or ~3 minutes.
Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Pfizer's $11.4 billion takeover of Array BioPharma highlights how eager industry titans are to commercialize cancer medications, making cancer the most in-demand pharmaceutical asset outside of gene therapy, my colleague Bob Herman writes.
Big Pharma wants to expand cancer lineups because cancer drugs command huge price tags that health insurers and society usually pay for uncritically.
Where it stands:
And all of that is just this year's activity.
What we're watching: Array has 2 FDA-approved drugs on the market, Mektovi and Braftovi, and more in development. The drugs have high prices, and Pfizer is known for its routine price hikes — even in the face of political pressure.
Related: Per reporters at Evaluate, if you want blockbuster drug sales, buy them.
Republicans have a better grasp on what Medicare for All would look like than Democrats do, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation survey.
By the numbers: Only 31% of Democrats think health insurance premiums would go away under a national plan — a key component of Sen. Bernie Sanders' Medicare for All bill.
My thought bubble: Democrats should probably start trying harder to make sure that their own voters understand at least the good parts about Medicare for All.
All those people who support "Medicare for All" but don't actually know quite what it means, take heart: The health care industry also can't define its own favorite buzzword, Axios' Sam Baker writes.
Talk of "value-based care" is everywhere — at every conference, in every PR pitch, on every investor call, everywhere. But when Humana gathered 18 industry bigwigs to try to come up with a definition of "value-based care," they couldn't do it, according to a report in FierceHealthcare.
Why it matters: If "value" is some version of getting your money's worth, it's hard to argue that the U.S. health care system is a good value, at least for patients or taxpayers.
A recently approved drug for treatment-resistant depression was branded as a wonder drug, but serious questions have been raised about its approval process, effectiveness and safety, the Center for Public Integrity reports.
What we're watching: A VA committee will decide this week whether to require that Spravato be available to VA pharmacies.
Why it matters: "For veterans whose ranks are plagued by depression and suicides, much is at stake," CPI writes. "A drug that offers [a] fast and lasting answer for treatment-resistant depression would be a godsend. But is this drug the answer?"
California is partnering with Silicon Valley to work on smartphone apps that can help in the early stages of a mental health crisis, NYT reports.
The big picture: While mental health apps have flooded the market, there's been little research as to whether they work. California's partnership is aiming to fill that hole.
Yes, but: "At least for now, California's effort to jump-start medicine's digital future is running into some of the same issues that have dogged old-fashioned drug trials: recruiting problems, questions about informed consent, and the reality that, no matter the treatment, some people won’t 'tolerate' it well, and quit," NYT writes.