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FYI: Tomorrow, STAT video journalist Alex Hogan is hosting a free digital chat about Runnin', a film about how opioids devastated his community. He'll be joined by NYU addiction expert Lipi Roy. Sign up here

Genomics pioneer Craig Venter accused of stealing trade secrets

Human Longevity is accusing genomics pioneer Craig Venter of stealing trade secrets from the company, which he founded in 2014 and left in May. The San Diego genomics company filed a suit in civil court Friday against the J. Craig Venter Institute, the scientist's nonprofit research organization. Human Longevity accuses Venter of taking trade secrets on his company laptop when he left and using that intel to set up a competing business. Human Longevity alleges that Venter tried to poach customers, investors, and employees, even though he'd signed an agreement not to do so. In a statement to STAT, an attorney for the J. Craig Venter Institute dismissed the allegations, which were first reported by the San Diego Union Tribune

Read Human Longevity's complaint here and get more details on the case here

AAP calls for overhaul of food additive regulations, citing health concerns

The American Academy of Pediatrics is calling on U.S. policymakers to reform how food additives are regulated, citing concerns about the health impact of certain chemicals. “Data about health effects of food additives on infants and children are limited or missing,” the AAP says in a policy statement released this morning. Many food additives — which are used to preserve, package or modify foods — were grandfathered in for approval decades ago. And hundreds more are considered “generally recognized as safe." Among the changes the AAP wants to see: strengthen or replace the “generally recognized as safe” system, re-test previously approved chemicals, and label additives with limited toxicity data.

Bayer slated to halt sales of Essure birth control implant

Bayer plans to stop selling its controversial birth control device Essure in the U.S. at the end of this year. Thousands of women have reported problems after having the device implanted, from unintended pregnancy to uterine perforation. The news comes on the heels of the FDA's announcement in April that it would restrict sales of Essure, requiring providers to review a brochure about the risks with patients and requiring both patient and physician to sign off on the document. The agency had previously required Bayer to add a black box warning to Essure. In announcing the news, Bayer said the decision to pull Essure from the market wasn’t about safety — it was about declining sales.

Inside STAT: Out of prison, the ‘father of gene therapy’ faces a tarnished legacy

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(ILLUSTRATION DOM SMITH/STAT; PHOTOS VIA KING FAISAL PRIZE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS OFFICE, OKLAHOMA HERITAGE ASSOCIATION, USC.)

Dr. W. French Anderson — once hailed as the father of gene therapy and honored at George H.W. Bush’s White House — was convicted in 2006 of sexually molesting a colleague’s young daughter. Before sentencing Anderson to 14 years in prison, Judge Michael Pastor said he had caused the girl “incalculable” emotional damage: “Because of intellectual arrogance, he persisted and he got away with as much as he could.” In May, the 81-year-old was released on parole, and STAT spoke to him two weeks later about a wide range of topics. STAT’s Sharon Begley has more here.

Spending on childrens' mental health care fell after parity law

A new study finds that families are paying less out-of-pocket for their children’s mental health care after a 2008 law that aimed to cut costs. Under the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, health insurers and group health plans have to offer the same level of benefits for mental health care and substance use treatment that they do for medical and surgical care. Researchers analyzed spending on mental health services for kids between 2008 and 2012 and found families spent $140 less each year than they would have without the law. But, the authors say, the estimated declines in out-of-pocket spending were likely too modest to have made a big dent in costs for families of kids with the most intensive needs. 

Experts explore how artificial intelligence can advance medical research 

The NIH is hosting a workshop today to talk about how to harness artificial intelligence and machine learning to boost biomedical research. Experts from Amazon, IBM, and the NIH Clinical Center are taking part in the event, along with researchers at leading academic centers who are using AI and machine learning in their own projects. They’ll be talking about the areas most likely to benefit from AI — including diagnostics, genomics, and vaccine design — and about the ethical considerations at play. You can tune in to the talks at the daylong event here, starting at 8:45 a.m. ET.

What to read around the web today

  • Immigrant shelters drug traumatized teenagers without their consent. ProPublica
  • Unpacking the bold — and the bluster — in Trump’s plan to bring down drug prices. STAT
  • Black lung disease growing, especially in central Appalachia. Charleston Gazette-Mail
  • PhRMA breaks its half-year record for federal lobbying spending. STAT Plus
  • Can a community hospital stay true to its mission after sale to large corporation? Kaiser Health News

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,

Megan

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Monday, July 23, 2018

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