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Morning Read: AMA to take on NRA over gun violence, Facebook tackles suicide prevention

Plus, the FDA approves an anti-obesity device that pumps a portion of the stomach’s contents into the toilet after each meal, Apple said to be adding HL7 Continuity of Care Document support to iOS 10 and a federal judge allows Illinois hospital mega-merger to proceed.



At its annual meeting on Tuesday, the AMA declared gun violence a public health crisis in the U.S. and is gearing up to lobby Congress to overturn a 20-year-old ban on the CDC researching the topic. That means the physician group will have to take on the powerful National Rifle Association.

“Even as America faces a crisis unrivaled in any other developed country, the Congress prohibits the CDC from conducting the very research that would help us understand the problems associated with gun violence and determine how to reduce the high rate of firearm-related deaths and injuries. An epidemiological analysis of gun violence is vital so physicians and other health providers, law enforcement and society at large may be able to prevent injury, death and other harms to society resulting from firearms,” AMA President Dr. Steven J. Stack said Tuesday. — Ars Technica

Facebook has introduced new tools for users to help friends who post about suicide or self-harm. Now, people can flag posts as potentially suicidal for specially trained Facebook teams around the world to review. If necessary, the social network will then offer information on suicide prevention to those deemed to be at risk. — The New York Times


Aspire Bariatrics of King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, has won FDA approval of AspireAssist, an anti-obesity device that pumps a portion of the stomach’s contents into the toilet after each meal. Critics have called it “assisted bulimia.” — NBC News

Drug companies have tried to build customers for life by offering comic books, toys, summer camps and even college scholarships to children and teens with hemophilia. — STAT

Infinity Pharmaceuticals has shut down its R&D operations after a disappointing trial of duvelisib, a drug for indolent non-Hodgkin lymphoma. — Xconomy

Hely & Weber, a Santa Paula, California-based maker and distributor of orthopedic supplies, is moving its distribution hub from Ohio to Texas, and may be relocating its corporate headquarters as well. — Dallas Business Journal

Two months after the FDA rejected its drug for the rare disease acromegaly, Waltham, Massachusetts-based Chiasma is cutting a third of its employees. — Boston Business Journal

AstraZeneca has introduced AZhelps, a technology platform for patients to manage their health and information about AstraZeneca drugs they take, because healthcare doesn’t have enough data silos. — Business Wire


A federal judge overruled an FTC antitrust determination, allowing the planned merger between Chicago-area heavyweights Advocate Health Care and NorthShore University HealthSystem to proceed. — Chicago Tribune

The Massachusetts Nurses Association voted overwhelmingly to strike against Brigham and Women’s Hospital on June 27. Boston Mayor Martin Walsh indicated he may get involved in the stalled negotiations. — The Boston Globe

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is now providing its Ohio members with telehealth access to Cleveland Clinic practitioners via LiveHealth Online for $49 per episode. — Business Wire

Cancer Treatment Centers of America has a new CEO, Dr. Rajesh K. Garg. — South Florida Business Journal


HealthKit “champion” Dr. Ricky Bloomfield, of Duke Medicine, said that Apple will add support for the HL7 Continuity of Care Document to iOS 10. — Healthcare IT News

Benefits startup Zenefits is letting another 9 percent of its staff go and closing its Arizona sales office. — Recode

IMS Health is teaming with data management firm Reltio to offer cloud-based analytics services for life sciences companies. — Business Wire

Dutch investment firm Gilde Healthcare has closed a fourth fund, worth about $285 million, to back growth-stage medtech, digital health and therapeutics companies. — PE Hub

Philadelphia-based telemedicine company AllyHealth has opened an office in Albany, New York, to serve a growing clientele in that state. — Albany Business Review


Several federal health officials have called on Congress to increase funding for the fight against antibiotic-resistant superbugs. — Modern Healthcare

France has opened a criminal investigation for possible involuntary manslaughter over a failed trial run by Bial and Biotrial that killed one and sent five others to the hospital. — Reuters


Dr. Philip W. Majerus, one of the first to show that low-dose aspirin can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, has died at 79. — Washington University School of Medicine