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Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

Juul stops online sales of fruit and dessert flavors

Juul will no longer sell fruit and dessert flavors for its e-cigarettes online, the company announced yesterday. The voluntary move comes amid increased scrutiny on the company’s marketing tactics, especially toward youths, and a proposed federal ban on flavored products. Many states, including Oregon and Michigan, are already attempting to implement temporary bans. A spate of vaping-related illnesses — nearly 1,500 at last count — is also fueling further examination of the products. Still, mint and menthol are Juul’s most popular flavors, and so stopping online sales of these other flavors — mango, crème, fruit, and cucumber — is unlikely to satisfy critics. These flavors were pulled from stores last November. 

At the same time, a new poll released yesterday found that only a narrow majority of people — 52% — supported a ban on flavored e-cigarettes. Nearly two-thirds of young adults ages 18-29 were against banning e-cigarettes, flavored or otherwise. 

Competitor accuses 23andMe of ‘false negatives’ in cancer-gene testing

Genetics testing company Invitae is accusing rival 23andMe of offering tests that have a high rate of “false negatives” when it comes to testing for DNA variants that cause certain cancers. Data presented yesterday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics suggests that up to 40% of patients with mutations linked to colorectal cancer would have learned from 23andMe tests that no disease-causing mutations had been found. Variants of other genes, including those linked to breast cancer, would have been missed at especially high rates in certain ethnic populations. 23andMe denied these allegations, saying that it clearly states that it tests only for certain variants, not all of those in the Invitae study. 

Johns Hopkins hosts simulated pandemic

The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security today is holding a simulated exercise in pandemic preparedness. Being held in collaboration with the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the event will involve 16 representatives from private companies, public health institutions, and other agencies coming together to play in a tabletop activity. It will mimic a series of lifelike scenarios and involve the players engaging in difficult discussions to solve dilemmas that may arise due to a pandemic. The point: to illustrate how disasters impact not only health, but also global economies and other aspects of society. The whole exercise will take 3 1/2 hours and will be livestreamed for the public — who can also participate in a virtual discussion — beginning at 8:45 a.m. ET. 

Inside STAT: The ‘unbelievable journey’ of CRISPR, now on Netflix

A scene from "Unnatural Selection" featuring David Ishee, a biohacker who, among other things, is seeking to bring bioilluminescence to dogs. (NETFLIX)

We’re squarely in the brave new world of CRISPR, and so it may only be natural that the gene editing tool’s story is also coming to Netflix. A four-part docuseries called “Unnatural Selection” is debuting on the streaming service today, and for this week’s episode of STAT’s "Readout LOUD" podcast, our reporters Adam Feuerstein and Damian Garde chatted with the two co-directors of the new show to learn more. Instead of being a typical science show, the series will focus on the people influenced by the new technology, show co-director Joe Egender shared, whether they’re doing the research, benefiting from the science, or fighting against it. Read their chat here

To listen to their conversation and keep up with the weekly podcast, sign up on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Most countries around the world are in short supply of blood for transfusions

Blood transfusions are a key part of health care, yet supplies are often nowhere near demand. A new study found that in 2017, the world needed more than 300 million blood units, but was short by nearly 30 million units. Of the 195 countries around the world, 119 did not have a sufficient supply of blood units and were short by a combined 100 million blood units. Higher-income countries were largely able to meet their demand, with Denmark having the largest supply. In contrast, South Sudan had the greatest shortfall, where the need was 75 times greater than the country’s supply. The WHO recommends 10-20 donors to supply enough blood to help 1,000 people, but the authors write that many countries will need more donors to meet the overwhelming demand. 

20 million fewer people use tobacco in countries with the majority of the world’s smokers

New CDC data from the 11 countries that have 70% of the world’s smokers found that there were 20 million fewer smokers in 2017 than a decade prior. Here’s more: 

  • Smoking incidence: Russia saw roughly a 9% decrease in the number of smokers between 2009-2016, while Turkey saw a 0.4% increase in smokers around a similar time period. 

  • Secondhand smoke: Some 53 million fewer people were exposed to secondhand smoke, with nearly 25% fewer people in Russia being exposed. At the same time, 13% more people in Thailand were exposed in 2011 than in 2009. 

  • Thoughts about quitting: The number of people thinking about quitting due to warning labels increased by more than 12 million during the decade. India saw the highest increase in this group, while Vietnam saw a decrease in people thinking about quitting.

What to read around the web today

  • We found over 700 doctors who were paid more than a million dollars by drug and medical device companies. ProPublica
  • Opinion: Motherhood and medicine should mix. So why is it such a struggle? STAT
  • Gunshot victims have highest chance of dying in Queens. The City
  • After 10 hours and a pile of rejected amendments, Democrats advance their drug pricing bill out of two key committees. STAT Plus
  • Judge summons drug CEOs for talks on sweeping opioid settlement. The New York Times

Have a nice weekend! More on Monday, 


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Friday, October 18, 2019


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