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Latest Morning Briefing Stories

Ex-FDA Head Scott Gottlieb Takes Seat On Pfizer’s Board Of Directors

KHN Morning Briefing

After resigning as FDA commissioner in March, Scott Gottlieb now joins the pharmaceutical industry he once regulated. In other pharma news: details emerge about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s drug pricing proposal; a few states explore importing drugs from outside the U.S.; the future of biologics; and more.

Wide-Ranging Package To Lower Health Costs Passes Senate Health Committee With Surprisingly Few Partisan Bumps

KHN Morning Briefing

The bill, which Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) worked on with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), addresses a sweeping array of health care topics from prescription drugs to surprise medical bills. The package also includes a bill from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) to raise the age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21.

Link Between Common Class Of Drugs, Increase In Dementia Risk Deepened With Wide-Ranging Study

KHN Morning Briefing

The researchers looked at anticholinergic drugs that work by blocking a chemical called acetylcholine, which acts as a neurotransmitter and is involved in many nervous system functions including muscle movements, heart rate, the widening of blood vessels, respiratory functions and muscle contractions in the stomach during digestion. Previous research has found a link between the drugs and dementia, but a new study strengthens those findings.

Facing The Upcoming Loss Of Blockbuster Drug’s Patent Protections, AbbVie Buys Allergan In Mega $63B Deal

KHN Morning Briefing

“This is the age of blockbusters,” said David Maris, an analyst for Wells Fargo who follows the drug industry. “And when blockbusters start to go away, companies don’t have too many things they can do.” AbbVie is under pressure to diversify its portfolio and its shares have lost more than a third of their value since January 2018 over concerns as the patent expiration on Humira, its top-selling drug, approaches.

Disappointment Surrounding Alzheimer’s Treatment Has Reached Almost Mythical Heights. But Is There A ‘Cabal’ Behind All Those Failures?

KHN Morning Briefing

For some experts it is increasingly apparent that there is another, more disturbing reason for the tragic lack of progress being made in Alzheimer’s research. A group of researchers had been so determined that one approach would work, few tried anything else. In other pharmaceutical news: AbbVie announces $63 billion deal to acquire Allergan, an analysis finds drugmakers often commit to follow-up studies after approval but few of them are new; and more.

FDA’s Approval Of Drug To Improve Low Libido In Women Rekindles Debate About Medication, Human Sexuality

KHN Morning Briefing

Skeptics of drugs like Vyleesi balk at the idea of a pharmaceutical product playing a role in sexual desire. To them, prescribing a drug women with low sexual drive misguidedly reduces the complexity of the condition to a biological issue. Experts say they don’t expect many women to seek the treatment as the drug can only be administered through injections.

Struggling To Curb Veteran Suicide, VA Approves Costly Depression Drug Amid Accusations It’s Rushing The Process

KHN Morning Briefing

The agency is racing to get the drug through the approval process after President Donald Trump signaled support for the treatment. But psychiatrists and medical researchers, including some at the VA, raised questions about the drug’s effectiveness and safety, and Democratic lawmakers question why the decision-making on the drug has been so rushed.

The Next Big Question In Opioid Court Cases: Will The Spoils Be Divided Up Fairly?

KHN Morning Briefing

With so many counties, cities, municipalities and states in the game, everyone is vying for their equal share of the millions expected to come out of the court cases against the opioid-makers. Meanwhile, David Sackler, of Purdue Pharma notoriety, speaks out in defense of the company. In other news on the opioid epidemic: FDA’s opioid approvals, data on prescriptions, international guidelines for painkillers, and more.

Sham Drug Prices Hearing Gives Progressives The Floor To Air Grievances With Leadership, Poke Fun At Pharma

KHN Morning Briefing

Progressive lawmakers had invited Big Pharma CEOs to participate in a hearing, but as a political group and not a formal congressional committee, the Progressive Caucus has little power to compel the industry figures’ presence. The hearing, however, provided an outlet for lawmakers to signal their frustration with Democratic leadership’s approach to drug prices. Meanwhile, following a lobbying blitz, lawmakers consider dialing down bill on patents.

Amazon Wants To Cut PBMs Out Of Drug Sales Pipeline By Contracting Directly With Health Plans, Employers

KHN Morning Briefing

By contracting directly with health plans and employers, Amazon-PillPack would essentially become its own pharmacy benefit manager, which, given Amazon’s distribution capabilities, could quickly shake up the nation’s prescription drug market. Court documents in a case about personnel revealed the strategy that many in the industry fear. In other pharmaceutical news: a drug-price watchdog group with ties to pharma; Merck’s expansion into cancer treatments; and more.

Deepening Quarrel Between White House Officials, HHS Secretary Threatens To Derail President’s Top Health Agenda Items

KHN Morning Briefing

Politico talked to a dozen current and former White House and HHS officials, as well as others familiar with the tensions brewing between President Donald Trump’s aides and HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “You have two teams with two visions,” an individual who’s been in heated meetings with HHS and the White House told Politico. “Alex is outnumbered and keeps losing.”