Brainstorm Health: The FDA’s E-Cig Ultimatum, Apple Watch ECG, Cancer Around the Globe


Apple Watch will have the first OTC heart monitor. Some big news out of Apple’s major September 12 event: The Apple Watch Series 4 will, as expected, include an electrocardiogram that can monitor your heart rate. That will make the device the first over-the-counter, commercial ECG on the market—and is sure to raise plenty of debate about the usefulness of the heart data gleaned from the device, including its potential applications in widescale, real-world scientific studies. (Fortune)


Hurricane Florence hits Pfizer manufacturing in North Carolina. Underscoring the broader effects that natural disasters can have on critical industries, the specter of Hurricane Florence has forced drug giant Pfizer to pause operations at a manufacturing plant in North Carolina. The devastating storms that hit Puerto Rico last year had an outsize effect on generic and IV drug production. (BioPharma Dive)


Cancer swells around the world. The number of cancer-related deaths is expected to reach 9.6 million this year, a 1.4-million-person increase from 2012 (the total number of cancer cases is also expected to rise from 14.1 million cases six years ago to 18.1 million in 2018, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) report). But there are a number of factors driving that trend—including longer life expectancies and an ever-growing population around the globe. In the United States, for instance, the rate of cancer-related deaths has actually been among the falling causes of death in the country, potentially spurred by more widespread insurance coverage, cuts in adult tobacco smoking, and the advent of new drugs. Still, matters are more complicated abroad and in poorer nations. (BBC)