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First Opinion

As July melted into August, First Opinion authors took on the big Facebook settlement (it doesn't protect patient information), treating catastrophic brain injuries (doctors face difficult conflicting guidelines), the possible reappearance of unique patient identifiers (banned since 1998), and much more. You can read their articles, and all of the week's First Opinions, here. Please don't hesitate to send ideas for articles to

Facebook’s FTC settlement doesn’t protect privacy of users’ health information

By Kirsten Ostherr and Fred Trotter


The Facebook-FTC settlement doesn't include health information as "Covered Information" and releases Facebook from liability for health privacy breeches.

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Why the term ‘natural’ is so seductive — and possibly misleading

By Brian Meier and Amanda Dillard and Courtney Lappas


People have a default belief that natural items are safer and better than non-natural or human-made items. But that's often not the case.

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New guidelines on severe brain injury complicate already difficult decisions

By Robert Truog


Waiting at least 28 days before deciing to withdraw life support for someone with a catastrophic brain injury would severely strain families and ICUs.

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The House has OK’d a unique patient identifier. Here’s what should happen next

By Shaun Grannis and John D. Halamka and Ben Moscovitch


Plans for a unique patient identifier are wending their way through Congress. There's work to be done before making such identifiers a reality.

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Why health companies are branding themselves as tech companies

By Samyukta Mullangi and Medha Vyavahare


Companies branding themselves as tech companies first and health care companies second, an approach we call avoidant positioning, is becoming the norm.

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Health insurers, like airplanes, need ‘black box recorders’

By Diane Archer and Richard Eskow


Some health insurance companies routinely fail to meet the needs of their enrollees. But it's hard to tell since they are allowed to operate in the dark.

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Bioethicists worried patients couldn’t handle their own genetic testing results. They were (mostly) wrong

By Erik Parens and Paul S. Appelbaum


Bioethicists once worried that giving people their genetic information would do them more harm than good. Those concerns were overblown.

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Pharma leaders: support the social contract on drug prices

By Paul Hastings

Richard Drew/P

Biomedical innovation is being jeopardized by a minority of bad actors. Politicians may remedy that in ways that harm patients and innovators.

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Rural Americans need help with ‘deaths of despair.’ Repealing the ACA won’t do that

By Nickolas D. Zaller

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Rural America is overwhelmed by "deaths of despair" — suicides and overdoses. Many of their lawmakers want to repeal the ACA, which will make things worse.

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STAT Plus: How to create successful leadership teams for cell and gene therapy companies

By Nick Stephens


When it comes to leadership, cell and gene therapy companies are carving out unique paths. Creativity and diversity are essential for building teams.

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Grassley: For Medicaid, greater transparency will open the door to better value and outcomes

By Chuck Grassley


Medicaid spends $30 billion a year on prescription drugs. More transparency is needed to deliver the best value and best outcomes for Medicaid patients.

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How our health systems are working to prevent hospital drug shortages

By Barclay E. Berdan and Scott Reiner and Terry Shaw


Drug shortages in hospitals usually involve generics. Hospital systems can create incentives to increase drug supplies at prices that won't bust the budget.

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3 key health care questions the Democratic candidates need to answer

By Arthur “Tim” Garson Jr. and Ryan Holeywell

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Presidential candidates owe it to voters to be as specific and transparent as possible about their propsals to revamp the U.S. health care system.

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Sunday, August 4, 2019


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