Stories by Bob Herman

Walgreens, Humana talk equity partnership

The storefront of a Walgreens.
A Walgreens pharmacy in Florida. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Pharmacy chain Walgreens Boots Alliance and health insurance company Humana are discussing a potential deal in which each company would acquire ownership stakes in the other, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: It appears that talks of a Walmart-Humana deal have cooled. But like other large health care industry deals, a Walgreens-Humana equity partnership would fight off threats from companies like Amazon to own more health care purchases, and threats from the aging baby boomer generation.

Sloan Kettering’s drug expenses explode

Sloane Kettering Center
Photo: Smith Collection/Gado via Getty Images

The amount Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center spent on pharmaceuticals in the first nine months of this year jumped 28% from the same time last year — hitting a total of $655 million, according to new financial documents. That was a big reason why the New York City cancer hospital’s surplus fell.

The bottom line: A spokesperson for MSK said the higher drug spending was mostly a result of the hospital’s patients using more drugs — more people got chemotherapy treatments, and new outpatient centers meant new drug expenses. MSK is somewhat of an outlier. But other major hospital systems like Providence St. Joseph Health, Hackensack Meridian Health, Bon Secours Mercy Health and Vanderbilt University Medical Center recently have reported similar trends of drugs eating up more of their expenses.

PhRMA spread money far and wide in Trump's first year

The PhRMA logo in the organization's D.C. office.
PhRMA booked $456 million of revenue in 2017. Photo: Bob Herman/Axios

PhRMA, the pharmaceutical industry's main lobbying group, considerably bolstered its political and financial position during President Trump's first year in office, new federal tax filings show.

The bottom line: PhRMA directed tens of millions of dollars toward conservative think tanks, political groups of all stripes and patient advocates with the hope of convincing the public that the industry isn't "getting away with murder," as Trump put it, and that others are to blame for the country's drug pricing maze.

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