Apr 12, 2019

Bipartisan Senate bill takes aim at drug companies' "evergreening"

Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.). Photos: Getty Images

Sens. Dick Durbin and Bill Cassidy — a Democrat and a Republican — introduced a new bill yesterday that would tackle evergreening, the process by which branded drug companies extend their monopolies by tacking on additional patents.

Where it stands: While the bill may reduce legal barriers to generic market entry, "someone still has to go through all the trouble and expense to overturn the patent," said Robin Feldman, a professor at UC Hastings.

Background: Evergreening prevents generic competition from coming to market and driving down prices. But the additional patents are often for small changes to the original drug.

What they're saying: "The Cassidy bill is a modest improvement. But it will take much more to move the needle on pharmaceutical competition," Feldman said.

The bottom line: This is even more evidence of how quickly prescription drug politics is changing.

Go deeper: Big Pharma's GOP firewall is weakening

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Scoop: Census Bureau is paying Chinese state media to reach Americans

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The 2020 Census Paid Media Campaign, which sends U.S. taxpayer dollars to community media outlets to run ads about the upcoming census, is including a Chinese state-run broadcaster as one of its media vendors.

Why it matters: After China's yearslong campaign to co-opt independent Chinese-language media in the U.S., Washington is now paying Beijing-linked media outlets in order to reach Chinese Americans.

Live updates: Coronavirus spreads to Latin America

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

Brazil confirmed the first novel coronavirus case in Latin America Wednesday — a 61-year-old that tested positive after returning from a visit to northern Italy, the epicenter of Europe's outbreak.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,700 people and infected over 81,000 others. By Wednesday morning, South Korea had the most cases outside China, with 1,261 infections. Europe's biggest outbreak is in Italy, where 374 cases have been confirmed.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health

GOP congressman accuses California pension official of working for China

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The latest season of Red Scare has come to Sacramento.

Driving the news: Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) has repeatedly accused Ben Meng, chief investment officer of the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS), of tacitly working on behalf of the Chinese government. Banks also says that, were it up to him, Meng would be fired — and has questioned the patriotism of California Gov. Gavin Newsom for not at least investigating Meng.

Go deeperArrow2 hours ago - World