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The Weekender: Purdue under fire, the pumpkin spice creep + digital health needs its own approach

Spotlighting original BirdDog reporting and why a few headlines from elsewhere matter for Tennessee.

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash



Took a reporting hiatus. Enjoy the week, and a throwback to my favorite Weekender art.

Nuggets from the archive:

Long lines and a mobile clinic: Tennessee’s dentist shortage reshapes how people get care

Other states, including Minnesota, legislatures have changed laws allowing a midlevel type of practitioner trained to do basic preventative and restorative work.

Ranking puts suboxone at top spot in Tenn., raising questions about how people fill medications and data access

Haslam: Tennessee’s health ‘a slow turning battleship’



1. What next for the Sacklers? A pharma dynasty under siege

David Crow, The Financial Times

The FT piece is “an investigation into the unfolding scandal of a company accused of fueling America’s opioid crisis.” Nashville-based attorney Mark Chalos of Lieff Cabraser weighs in on the Sackler family’s gain from the success of OxyContin (which BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee will stop covering under most of its plans in January, opting instead to cover two opioid painkillers that are harder to abuse).

Purdue Pharma, the company behind OxyContin, profited from blockbuster success of the medication, and is deep into a bevy of litigation about its role, including a lawsuit filed by the Tennessee attorney general in Knox County Circuit Court.


2. A 22-year Apple veteran explains why Silicon Valley’s ‘fast fail’ approach won’t work with health tech

Robin Goldstein, who was recently a senior manager of health special projects at Apple,  for CNBC

Excerpt: “Although we refer to them as ‘health’ products, the current crop (of digital health products are) primarily focused on diagnosing, screening and managing illness and disease. Unless you have a specific need, most people would rather ‘get busy living’ than ‘get busy dying.'”

Fortune: Mobile health apps get an FDA push

Psychology Today: Digital health and the rise of mental health apps


3. Welcome to the ‘Pumpkin Spice Economy’

Molly Callahan, News at Northeastern

Whether you’re camp Pumpkin Spice-everything or not, the artificial flavor associated with fall is inescapable.

Forbes estimated in late 2015 that autumnal Pumpkin Spice fixation was an annual $500 million business, sparked by Starbucks’ launch of the limited-run latte in 2003. Thanks Starbucks flavor engineers?

And the craze started earlier this year. Starbucks broke its own records this year by launching its pumpkin spice latte in August — potentially in part, because the chain’s other speciality drinks hadn’t carried a strong 2018.

Quick and interesting Q&A with a Northeastern University business professor about “seasonal creep” and why it annoys some people — no matter what goodie or set of tchotchkes are trotted out months before its season.


4. The Daily Shot: How do U.S. farmers feel about the $12 billion bailout?

Lev Borodovsky, The Wall Street Journal

A series of charts illustrate the country’s trade deficit, the impact of how a strengthening dollar will impact the deficit, and farmers’ outlook on whether the bailout relieves their concerns.

From Axios: County-level data gets mapped for a detailed, local look at “geographical impact of both current and threatened retaliation” in the trade war.


Other reads

WPLN: How Comprehensive Pain Specialists, Owned By A Nashville Legislator, Helped Shape Tennessee Laws

San Francisco Chronicle: Uber CEO: ‘I had no fracking clue what I was getting into’


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