Dispensed: Big Tech’s healthcare plays, free medical school, and the end for Juul’s top flavor

Walgreens CEO Stefano Pessina.

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Walgreens CEO Stefano Pessina.
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Courtesy Walgreens

Hello,

Welcome to Dispensed, Business Insider’s weekly newsletter, in which I’m just starting to regain full control of my body after running the New York City Marathon last weekend. New to the newsletter? You can sign up here.

Speaking of which – if you’re looking for a fun weekend read or inspiration to sign up for your own marathon (or good reason not to), my dad and I ran the marathon together and wrote about our experience for Business Insider.

You can see what each of the 26.2-mile trek was like for us here.

As I wrote on Monday, “It was an overwhelming experience that was exhilarating, trying, inspiring, and exhausting.” Looking back, I think the number of adjectives in that sentence sums up my feelings about the race quite nicely.

Bonus: I managed to put two pictures of my dog in the post!

It’s one of the things I love about working for Business Insider – if I find a fun story I want to work on that doesn’t fit into my usual beat, I can still go out and write (and run!) it.

Think that’s something you’d like out of a reporting gig? We’re still hiring! We’re looking for one great reporter to cover pharma/biotech and another to cover health policy. Have questions about the roles? Let me know – My inbox/DMs are open.

Anyway, back to business.

A private Walgreens?

On Tuesday, we were hit with reports from Bloomberg and Reuters that Walgreens is considering going private. That’d be a huge deal, considering the retail pharmacy giant has a market cap of $52 billion.

The report led to a big stock jump for the company, which has faced with competitive pressure from rival retailers like CVS Health and Walmart, who are going deeper into healthcare at a time when Walgreens is pulling back, most recently by exiting the retail health clinic business in favor of working with health system partners. Have thoughts about Walgreens potentially going private? Let’s chat – I’m at lramsey@businessinsider.com.

Speaking of which – I caught up with CVS Health CEO Larry Merlo this week, and we went deep into the company’s HealthHub strategy.

We asked the CEO of CVS to share how he plans to use his 10,000 pharmacies to upend healthcare. This is the story he told us.

Want to read this story and don’t yet have a BI Prime membership? Use my link here to get 20% off your BI Prime subscription.

Coming out of the HLTH conference last week in Las Vegas, it felt more clear than ever that big tech companies are bearing down on the massive healthcare industry.

In particular, big tech companies like Google and Microsoft are clarifying how they plan to make their mark.

So I decided to map it out.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai
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Josh Edelson/Getty Images

Tech giants like Google and Amazon are beefing up their healthcare strategies. Here’s how 7 tech titans plan to tackle the $3.5 trillion industry.

Read on to see how Lyft, Uber, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Google, and even Facebook are thinking about healthcare.

As a piece of that, a similar set of companies are becoming big investors in digital health startups. Looking at data compiled by CB Insights, Clarrie Feinstein and I also mapped out where 5 top tech giants are placing their healthcare bets.

Say goodbye to Juul’s most popular flavor

Erin Brodwin has been following the antics of e-cigarette company Juul for years now. In the latest chapter in the saga, she reports how Juul has pulled its most popular flavor in a last-ditch effort to stop teens from vaping.

The flavor, mint, accounts for roughly two-thirds of the company’s sales, Erin reports. Already, Juul had pulled flavors like mango, fruit, cream, and cucumber from the market.

That leaves just Juul’s tobacco-flavored and menthol pods on the market.

A plan for the primary care shortage

Remember in 2018 when NYU came out with its plan to cover tuition for all of its medical school, citing the hope that it’ll help future doctors to go into lower-paying specialties like primary care? At the time there was no shortage of skepticism about whether doctors would decide on primary care.

Well now, Pennsylvania’s Geisinger Health System is putting its money where its mouth is. It’s set up a program to cover the cost of tuition and living expenses for 40 students per medical school class. That comes with a stipulation: After residency, the doctors have to work within Geisinger for four years as primary care providers.

Will this work to fix the shortage? Should others follow suit? Curious to hear what you think!

Venture check-in

It’s no surprise that venture capital has been flowing into health startups.

Clarrie and I took stock of how the third-quarter of 2019 fared. All told, fewer dollars flowed in ($3.2 billion) than the second quarter, but there were still some big investments. Meet the top 10 firms making the most digital health investments.

On the West Coast, Erin had a conversation with a VC who raised $30 million. He shared how he’s placing his bets on biology “eating the whole world.”

It seems that there’s a lot of interesting from investors in startups that help Americans age at home. Clarrie rounded up the 7 remote-monitoring startups that are raising millions to provide a new way of caring for aging Americans at home.

Thanks for all the well marathon wishes – it wasn’t easy, but all the tips and words of encouragement kept me powering through the tougher miles!

As always, be sure to reach out to us with your thoughts, tips, musings on what you wish we were focusing on, at healthcare@businessinsider.com. You can reach me directly at lramsey@businessinsider.com.

Have a great weekend!

– Lydia