Nov 17, 2018

What Washington is likely to do about drug prices

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Pharma was happy when President Trump first released his blueprint to lower drug prices, which mainly targeted industry middlemen, not drugmakers, and relied on private-sector competition, not direct government intervention.

But things have taken a turn.

  • First, the administration proposed requiring pharmaceutical companies to include drugs’ sticker prices in their TV ads. Industry says it’s a violation of the First Amendment, and there’s a real debate over whether that information would be very useful.
  • Next came a plan to base Medicare’s payments for certain drugs on the prices European countries pay — in other words, to piggyback off of single-payer or highly socialized health care systems. That’s a pretty big plot twist for a Republican administration.

Yes, but: Industry will have ample opportunities to kill both of these proposals, and both could end up having modest impacts even if they do end up happening.

The bottom line: Divided government probably won’t produce a grand bargain on drug pricing. The industry is still very powerful, and Congress' ideological differences are still real.

  • But pharma nevertheless will be on worse footing in January than it is today, and it’s on worse footing today than it was a year ago.
  • It’s increasingly at odds with what seemed like a friendly administration, and it’s losing some of the allies on Capitol Hill who could help fight Trump’s most dramatic plans.

Go deeper: Read the rest of Axios' Deep Dive on prescription drug prices

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The cost of going after Bloomberg

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Here's the growing dilemma for 2020 Democrats vying for a one-on-one showdown with frontrunner Bernie Sanders: Do they have the guts — and the money — to first stop Mike Bloomberg?

Why it matters: Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren all must weigh the costs of punching Bloomberg where he looks most vulnerable: stop-and-frisk, charges of sexism, billionaire entitlement. The more zealous the attacks, the greater the risk he turns his campaign ATM against them.

How Trump’s economy stacks up

Source: "Presidents and US Economy", Trump figures through 2019 courtesy of Alan Blinder; Note: Data shows real GDP and Q1 growth in each term is attributed to the previous president; Chart: Axios Visuals

Average economic growth under President Trump has outpaced the growth under Barack Obama, but not all of his recent predecessors.

Why it matters: GDP is the most comprehensive economic scorecard — and something presidents, especially Trump, use as an example of success. And it's especially relevant since Trump is running for re-election on his economic record.

Coronavirus cases rise as 14 American evacuees infected

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's NHC; Note: China refers to mainland China and the Diamond Princess is the cruise ship offshore Yokohama, Japan. Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

14 Americans evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship tested positive for the novel coronavirus before being flown in a "specialist containment" on a plane repatriating U.S. citizens back home, the U.S. government said early Monday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 1,770 people and infected almost 70,000 others. Most cases and all but five of the deaths have occurred in mainland China. Taiwan confirmed its first death on Sunday, per multiple reports, in a 61-year-old man with underlying health conditions. Health officials were investigating how he became ill.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health