Skip to content

Good Tuesday Morning!

Good morning. A healthcare mystery may just have been cracked, and the suspect: Mr. Harold, in the kitchen, with a pickleball racket.

You see, a few weeks ago UnitedHealth Group said more people were using the healthcare system (bad news for insurers), and no one exactly knew what was up. Then yesterday, the sleuths at UBS published a note with a clever hypothesis: Rising healthcare utilization rates could be fueled by…pickleball injuries.

UBS calculated that the game’s surging popularity—among seniors, in particular—will contribute $377 million in medical costs this year for procedures like hip replacements and knee surgeries, Bloomberg reported.

It makes intuitive sense, but this still reeks of Big Tennis.

Weight-loss drugs are ditching the needle

Novo Nordisk will ask for FDA approval on a semaglutide pill for weight loss

Francis Scialabba

Just when it seemed the weight-loss drug race couldn’t get any more frenzied, the makers of popular obesity medications said “Hold my syringe.”

Novo Nordisk said yesterday it will seek FDA approval this year for a pill version of its pound-shedding medication, Wegovy (Ozempic for weight loss), after finding that an oral alternative was just as effective as the injectable version.

That leaves Pfizer and Eli Lilly—the maker of Mounjaro, a recent breakout in weight loss—trailing a bit behind as the three drugmakers compete for the biggest slice of a fast-growing industry that could reach $100 billion by the end of the decade, analysts estimate. Pfizer’s CEO has estimated that an obesity pill could rake in $10 billion per year for the company that makes it.

  • In Novo Nordisk’s final trials before FDA review, diabetics lost up to 20 pounds and non-diabetics lost an average of 35 pounds—or 15% of their body weight—on a high-dose daily pill version of semaglutide (the generic name for Ozempic and Wegovy).
  • Competitor Eli Lilly’s oral weight loss drug, orforlipron, enabled non-diabetic users to lose up to 14.7% of their body weight in phase two studies (one step behind final trials). So far, nothing rivals Eli Lilly’s injectable, Mounjaro, which reduces body weight by 22.5%, on average—except its own experimental injectable retatrutide, which the company announced yesterday helped patients lose 24% of their weight.
  • Diabetics who pop the high dose of Pfizer’s pill, danuglipron, shed an average of 10 pounds, according to mid-phase two trial results. Pfizer was developing a second pill, too, but just dropped it after discovering it could harm people’s livers.

But it’s not all pills and rainbows. Some medical professionals think an oral option for weight loss will help those who get squeamish around needles, but critics worry the ease could put pressure on people who are overweight. There’s no timeline yet on when the semaglutide pill form will hit the market, which is still suffering from demand-fueled shortages of Wegovy and Ozempic injectables.—ML

Tour de headlines

Russian President Vladimir Putin


 Wagner boss says he wasn’t trying to oust Putin; Putin’s still mad. In his first public speech since the mutiny over the weekend led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, whose paramilitary Wagner Group had been fighting in Ukraine but turned on Russia, President Vladimir Putin called the rebellion’s organizers traitors and said Wagner soldiers could fight with Russia’s military, go home, or move to Belarus. The speech came after Prigozhin said his aim was not to stage a coup but to prevent his force from being taken over by the military. Prigozhin’s own fate (and location) remained unclear, although the deal that ended the revolt called for him to relocate to Belarus.

 Ryan Reynolds’s business empire expands to F1. Not content to use his marketing savvy on just booze, mobile phones, and soccer, the Deadpool star is now part of a group buying 24% of the Alpine Formula One team for ~$218 million. The group—which also includes investment firms RedBird Capital Partners and Otro Capital, and actors Rob McElhenney and Michael B. Jordan—is getting in on the sport after Netflix helped raise its profile in the US with Formula 1: Drive to Survive. Separately, Reynolds also inked a deal with television channel S4C to broadcast its Welsh programming in the US on his Fubo streaming channel.

 Severe storms knock out power, air travel. Storms raged across the US over the weekend, leaving nearly 400,000 people without power. And if folks were looking to travel, they were mostly out of luck, since more than 7,800 flights were delayed or canceled yesterday. Some areas in the South getting pummeled by storms were also under extreme heat warnings. We’re not getting a break from talking about the weather anytime soon: More than 90 high temperature records are likely to be broken this week across the South because of a heat dome expanding over Texas.


Nothing is inflation-proof, not even the Hajj

Worshipers praying in Mecca

Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Saudi Arabia plans to lure tourists with luxury resorts and a built-from-scratch city, but it’s already the host of the world’s largest pilgrimage. The biggest Hajj since pre-pandemic times commenced yesterday, with 2 million Muslims from all corners of the world headed to the ancient city of Mecca.

But visiting Islam’s holiest site is unusually pricey this year, as rampant inflation strains worshipers’ wallets. It’s typical for folks to spend years saving up for the sacred journey, which is obligatory for every devout Muslim whose health and finances allow it.

That second caveat is all the more relevant these days:

  • The most budget-friendly Hajj tour option from Egypt costs ~$5,663, almost double what it cost in local currency last year, according to the Associated Press.
  • One Palestinian pilgrim told Reuters he’s traveling by land and staying in a shared hotel room for $7,000, a price that would’ve covered a trip package that included airfare last year.

For the first time ever, fewer than the maximum permitted number of travelers from Bangladesh and Pakistan will make the trip because of its sky-high price tag.

Zoom out: Even though it’s mostly oil money that gives Saudi the cash to do things like buy golf, its economy counts on the Hajj and the year-round Umrah pilgrimage to Mecca to generate $12 billion in revenue annually, per pre-pandemic estimates.—SK

Come to Omaha for baseball, stay for Jell-O shots

Illustration of a baseball with Jell-O shots around it

Francis Scialabba

The LSU Tigers clinched the Men’s College World Series title yesterday, defeating the Florida Gators in their second championship win of the week. The first, of course, went to LSU fans for consuming the most Jell-O shots at Rocco’s Pizza & Cantina.

Meet the College World Series of Jell-O Shots. What started in 2019 at an Omaha bar across from the baseball field as a goofy way to keep track of how many Jell-O shots fans consumed has morphed into a monster event of its own, with a Twitter account, a business partnership, and donations to charity:

  • According to @CWSShotBoard, LSU fans finished the competition with 64,808 Jell-O shots, shattering Ole Miss’s record of 18,777 last year. LSU got a big boost from rounds of several thousand shots from alums looking to break records.
  • In order to get ready for this jelly, Rocco’s teamed up with Jevo, whose machines can make 100 Jell-O shots every four minutes.
  • Part of the profits go to food banks at each participating university, and an Omaha food pantry.

The rise in Jell-O shot culture coincides with the rise of the CWS itself. Two of LSU’s matchups at the competition were the most watched baseball games (pro ball included) on cable TV this year, per the school. A record number of fans also attended this year’s games in person, for the third year in a row.—CC

Key performance indicators

Someone literally cutting a phone cord

Hannah Minn

Stat: As of last year, 73% of US adults had ditched their landlines and were living the cell-only lifestyle—three times as many as in 2010, according to a Washington Post analysis of the National Health Interview Survey. As anyone who still calls their parents’ home phone could probably guess, the only group where landline lovers outnumber mobile-only types are households 65 and older. Landline havers are also most likely to be located in the Northeast, likely because Verizon is the main provider in the region, meaning many households switched to faster internet earlier, when having a landline was still a thing, and aren’t bothering to drop it from their package now.

Quote: “We recognize, yes, our kit needs to be updated.”

Despite how popular New Zealand is with filmmakers, we’ll probably never get a Harrison Ford thriller about the country’s Air Force One equivalent. That’s because the plane that ferries the nation’s prime minister around is a bit of a clunker: The 30-year-old Boeing 757, known as Betty, breaks down so often that New Zealand sent a back-up plane to Manila when Prime Minister Chris Hipkins traveled to China, to ensure he didn’t get stuck there. The aircraft is scheduled to be replaced by 2030.

What else is brewing

  • The person accused of fatally shooting five people and wounding 17 others at Colorado Springs gay bar Club Q last year pleaded guilty yesterday, and was sentenced to life in prison.
  • IBM will buy software maker Apptio for $4.6 billion to boost its cloud and automation business.
  • Meta introduced a VR subscription service that gives Meta Quest users two new games for $7.99 each month.
  • Jesse Watters will take over the 8pm slot left vacant in the Fox News lineup by the ouster of Tucker Carlson.
  • New York City wants to crack down on carbon emissions…from pizzerias.


Tuesday To Do List

 Life in plastic, it’s fantastic: Give in to the Barbie hype: Take this quiz to see which Barbie you are, read this breakdown of what it all means, or marvel at the marketing team’s efforts.

 Grounded: Here’s everything you need to know if your flight gets canceled.

 Today I learned: Where the holes in Swiss Cheese come from (YouTube).

 Pedal power: Check out a growing network of bike routes for your next ride.

 Not-so-human resources: 71% of Americans oppose AI making the call on whether they get a job. Dig into the stats here.


 E-bikes made E-Z: As the No. 1 certified e-bike carrier, Upway delivers top-notch brands right to your door within 1 week. Use code BREW200 for $200 off orders $500+.


Leave a Comment