Brainstorm Health: Alcohol Abuse Screening, Juul Sales, SVB Leerink Merger
- It’s no secret that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been waging a battle against the tobacco and e-cigarette industries.
- On Tuesday, the giant in the vaping space, Juul, officially announced that it would stop selling the majority of its reloadable, flavored nicotine pods from stores.
- And, perhaps even more significantly, the company is ceasing its social media promotions altogether—promotions which were seen by regulators and critics as having an outsize effect in getting kids to smoke e-cigarettes.
- And critics continued to pounce on the company.
- “E-cigarette use is an epidemic in this country and belated, loophole-riddled half-measures like those rolled out today by Juul are simply not enough to save children from lifetimes of addiction and disease,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut in a statement.
- FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has stated that his focus on e-cigarettes and vaping stems primarily from a focus on American youth.
Social media growth is over in the U.S. — which is its most valuable market
- Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat are no longer adding new users in the United States.
- As a result, these users generate more advertising revenue for social media companies, on average, than users in other parts of the world.
- Facebook users in the U.S. and Canada generated $27.61 in revenue apiece last quarter.
- Twitter monthly active users in the U.S. generated $5.19 in ad revenue apiece last quarter.
- Snap’s North American users generated $2.62 apiece in revenue last quarter.
- In short, the fact that these user bases are no longer growing means these companies need to figure out other ways to grow their advertising businesses.
- The other option is for social media companies to generate more money from the U.S. users they already have.
- Facebook’s monthly active users base — 242 million users — represents 67 percent of all Americans and Canadians.
Household staples from Hershey's chocolate to Crest toothpaste will get more expensive next year, and executives are partially blaming the 'overrun' trucking industry
- This year brought unexpected challenges to the logistics industry, particularly in trucking, which moves 71% of the freight in the US.
- And, as a result, trucking became more expensive at certain points this year than ever recorded.
- Some companies did make their goods more expensive, and others plan to add further price increases in 2019.
- Johnston, PepsiCo vice chairman, executive VP and CFO, said price increases in the company's offerings were due in part to transportation costs — particularly products in the beverage division, like Pepsi, Aquafina, and Gatorade.
- Mondelez, the producer of Oreos, Chips Ahoy!, Nabisco, and other consumer goods, said in an October earnings call that they will raise the price of products "across the line" for the same reasons.
- Earlier this year, General Mills, Hormel Foods, and Tyson Foods all said they would increase prices because of trucking bottlenecks.
The new Google Health unit is absorbing health business from DeepMind, Alphabet's AI research group
- The company announced the news via a blog post on Tuesday, where it stressed that it will continue with health research through its academic partners, but that products ready to be deployed will now be under the Google umbrella.
- In June of 2018, the company disclosed that more than 100 people work solely in health care, and the app is used by 10 hospitals in the UK's National Health Service.
- Streams found itself at the center of a controversy in 2016 when the New Scientist reported that its collaboration with the U.K.'s National Health Service went far beyond what was publicly announced.
- DeepMind, which is one of the Alphabet portfolio companies with a health team, was acquired by Alphabet about four years ago to do futuristic AI work, like teaching computer systems to beat top-ranked players of the Chinese board game Go. Other portions of DeepMind will remain independent.
Germany Recharges Car Industry With $1.12 Billion Fund For Battery Production
- The German government has been aware of the issue for a while and in September said that it would provide political support for local battery production.
- On Tuesday, economy minister Peter Altmaier announced that the German government has set aside around €1 billion ($1.12 billion) to support home production of battery cells.
- According to Reuters, Altmaier said the aim was for Europe to be producing 30% of battery cells by 2030, and he was therefore talking to counterparts in France, Poland and Austria.
- The production will likely be handled by a German consortium, with a level of coordination from the government.
- Reuters also reported Monday that Volkswagen, which currently gets its batteries from South Korea’s LG and China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology, is open to joining the planned consortium.
China appears to walk back on controversial decision to reopen trade in rhino and tiger bones
- Chinese officials appear to have walked back on China's widely panned scheme to reopen the trade on rhino and tiger bones.
- It came after a controversial government notice, issued last month, tossed out a 25-year ban on rhino and tiger products, enraging conservationists and wildlife groups around the world.
- But on Monday, a senior official at China's State Council — the cabinet of the Chinese government — issued an esoteric statement announcing that the decision to lift the ban was now postponed.
- He added that the council would allow for the regulated use of tiger and rhino parts for scientific research, sales of cultural relics, and medical research or in healing.
- Perhaps following the widely-lambasted decision to lift rhino and tiger trade last month, Ding on Monday told Xinhua that China would continue to enforce its "three strict bans" on the trade, transport, and use of rhino and tiger products.
Anorak raises £5M Series A for its life insurance advice platform
- Anorak Technologies, the U.K. startup building a life insurance advice platform, has raised £5 million in Series A funding.
- Vanek says the additional capital will be used to “grow our tech, data, product and business development teams,” and to continue to invest in Anorak’s unique recommendation engine, which covers the profiling of users, analysing their risk, and connecting them to a suitable product.
- To test these non-traditional B2B2C routes to market for life insurance advice, Anorak already has API integrations with Starling Bank, and the money management app Yolt.
- This enables the life insurance advisor to begin building up a profile based on things like rent, mortgage, salary, outgoings etc., to provide accurate advice.
- Moving forward, Vanek tells me that Anorak wants to expands its tech platform to advisors, such as mortgage brokers and wealths managers, who haven’t previously had tools to help them provide life insurance or accidental injury cover.
Armistice Day: November 11, 1918 to November 11, 2018
- The technology of war occupies a huge portion of our articles related to the Great War. In blogs, our pages and in our Archive you can see the growing importance of the technology and manufactures of war: artillery, the machine gun, rapid-fire rifles, barbed wire, mines and the inventions designed to leapfrog over obstacles: radio, tactical innovations, transportation, flamethrowers, poison gas, airplanes, tanks and zeppelins (which, being lofted by flammable hydrogen, turned out to be not such a great weapon of war).
- By the end of the Great War, the casualty figures were known to be huge—so many people had experienced a loss—but while the war was going on governments were reluctant to tell their civilian populations of the human cost of fighting a war that required so much effort on the part of those civilians.
Blood pressure drug recall expands again
- The drug is being recalled because the active ingredient has tested positive for N-Nitrosodiethylamine or NDEA, a suspected human and animal carcinogen that is used in gasoline as a stabilizer for industry materials and as a lubricant additive, according to the National Institutes of Health.
- Several pills that contain valsartan, another drug used by heart patients, have been under a recall since July.
- The FDA is testing all heart drugs known as ARBs for these impurities.
- It estimated that if 8,000 people took the highest dose of valsartan (320 milligrams) containing NDMA from these recalled batches daily for four years, there may be one additional case of cancer over the lifetimes of 8,000 people.
- The FDA said it will continue to test all products containing valsartan and similar drugs for the presence of impurities.
Cocaine production is spiking in Peru and Bolivia, and it could get worse
- New figures released this month by the United States show that Peru and Bolivia have stalled, if not taken steps backward, in their attempts to eradicate prolific cocaine production within their borders.
- Last year, Peru's National Commission for Development and Life Without Drugs, which is responsible for helping design the country's anti-drug strategy, said that it intends to eradicate 50 percent of the country's coca crop by 2021, through increased eradication efforts and a crop-substitution program.
- U.S. officials work closely with Peru on coca eradication efforts, while at the same time implementing "alternative development programs" for Peruvian farmers.
- U.S. officials have also pointed out that, although this year's ONDCP survey found Bolivian coca production went down slightly in 2017—from 37,500 hectares to 31,000—the figure is nonetheless 9,000 hectares over the Bolivian government's own nationwide cultivation limit.