Good morning ... Last month, I mentioned a gender reveal party that went wrong, sparking a wildfire that ended up burning thousands of acres in Arizona. Well, good news: Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, there's video of how the whole thing started.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
Ethicists and experts are afraid of what comes next, now that Chinese scientist He Jiankui claims to have created the world’s first genetically engineered babies.
The big question: Did it happen at all? He has provided no concrete evidence of the births he's claiming to have helped engineer; his university says he's been on leave for months; and some other scientists in the field seem skeptical.
But if He is telling the truth, his work raises a host of other questions about the ethics of gene editing and why he chose to handle this project the way he did.
I asked Jessica Berg, a bioethicist at Case Western Reserve University, to run through some of the specific ethical issues that are weighing on the scientific community:
What's next: If the gene-editing threshold has indeed been crossed, Berg says it's only a matter of time until someone tries to get closer to "designer babies."
Medicare’s latest proposal to lower prescription drug costs focuses on the program’s “protected classes,” Axios’ Caitlin Owens reports.
How it works: Medicare Part D plans must cover every drug in those 6 special classes. But the new proposal would create exemptions from that requirement, under the theory that guaranteed coverage helps keep prices high.
A similar proposal would apply to drugs administered by a doctor, letting private Medicare Advantage plans insist that patients try the most cost-effective drugs first, under certain circumstances.
The other side: Some patient advocacy groups — including the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and the AIDS Institute — expressed alarm, saying the proposal would reduce access to medication for patients.
The push for safer medical devices has been bubbling for years, and now the FDA may finally take a more critical stance toward the industry, my colleague Bob Herman reports.
Driving the news: One day after a wide-ranging investigation — led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and dozens of other media outlets — highlighted how breast implants, heart valves and other devices have harmed people due to lax or nonexistent safety standards, the FDA said it would change how some products get cleared for sale.
The other side: The industry’s trade group, AdvaMed, criticized the ICIJ series as one-sided and raised concerns that the FDA’s 10-year cutoff period for most devices “could prove arbitrary.”
The bottom line: The FDA’s plans for more rigorous clearance standards won’t eliminate every loophole. However, the agency is publicly recognizing that many manufacturers have sold new products with minimal clinical testing, and that is a bar that may be too low for patient safety.
Air ambulances can cost tens of thousands of dollars, and often don't provide an explanation of why they're medically necessary when there are ground options available, CNN reports.
By the numbers: Almost 50 million Americans didn't live within an hour of a level 1 or 2 trauma center as of 2005, and rural hospitals have closed in droves since then.
Like ground ambulances, air ambulances are a favorite of private-equity firms.
Speaking of high-priced health care services that are often owned by private-equity firms: Wall Street has also developed a poor track record with the nursing homes it runs.
A Washington Post investigation found a staggering annual increase in safety violations at ManorCare, the country's second-biggest chain of nursing homes, once it came under the management of the Carlyle Group.
"They’re all bankers and investment people. We had some very tough conversations where they did not know a thing about this business at all," one ManorCare consultant told the Post.