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Jeff Lewis / AP

Annie Waldman of ProPublica has a story today explaining how the pharmaceutical industry is hiring academic economists and health policy professors to help justify the rising price tags of their drugs.

The piece centers around a firm called Precision Health Economics. Drug companies have paid the firm's experts to assist them with drug pricing and messaging. Their work has appeared in blogs, health policy journals and congressional testimony, giving an aura of academic rigor and independence, but the experts sometimes have not disclosed their ties to the industry.

Why this matters: Drug companies know the prices of their products are a top political concern, as more people have aired concerns about being unable to afford their medicine. This latest story builds on the growing corporate theme of quietly paying outside voices to make their business strategies more palatable to the public. ProPublica did a separate piece in November that showed companies are hiring university antitrust professors to defend their mergers in court.

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
7 mins ago - Economy & Business

The fragile recovery

Data: Department of Labor; Chart: Axios Visuals

The number of people receiving unemployment benefits is falling but remains remarkably high three weeks before pandemic assistance programs are set to expire. More than 1 million people a week are still filing for initial jobless claims, including nearly 300,000 applying for pandemic assistance.

By the numbers: As of Nov. 14, 20.2 million Americans were receiving unemployment benefits of some kind, including more than 13.4 million on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) programs that were created as part of the CARES Act and end on Dec. 26.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
27 mins ago - Politics & Policy

The top candidates Biden is considering for key energy and climate roles

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has urged President-elect Joe Biden to nominate Mary Nichols, chair of California's air pollution regulator, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: The reported push by Schumer could boost Nichol's chances of leading an agency that will play a pivotal role in Biden's vow to enact aggressive new climate policies — especially because the plan is likely to rest heavily on executive actions.

U.S. economy adds 245,000 jobs in November as recovery slows

Data: BLS; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy added 245,000 jobs in November, while the unemployment rate fell to 6.7% from 6.9%, the government said on Friday.

Why it matters: The labor market continues to recover even as coronavirus cases surge— though it's still millions of jobs short of the pre-pandemic level. The problem is that the rate of recovery is slowing significantly.

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