May 21, 2019

Drugmaker sues feds over medication payment change

HHS headquarters in Washington. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Mallinckrodt is suing the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Department of Health and Human Services for changing the way Medicaid rebates are calculated for its pricey H.P. Acthar Gel medication, a move that would require Mallinckrodt to pay back large sums of money to the federal government.

Why it matters: The drug company expects the change will eliminate 10% of its Acthar sales, and that it will have to pay up to $600 million in retroactive rebates — news that sent the company's stock plunging by 24% Tuesday to a record-low $9.87 per share.

Reality check: Acthar has been under the gun for several years now. Independent experts say the drug, which is a half-century old and treats multiple sclerosis and infantile spasms, is excessively priced and isn't any better than cheaper alternatives.

The bottom line: Mallinckrodt is fighting tooth and nail to protect Acthar because it is the lifeblood of the company. The drug makes up 35% of Mallinckrodt's revenue.

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Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. U.S. numbers include Americans extracted from Princess Cruise ship.

Two elderly Diamond Princess passengers have been killed by the novel coronavirus — the first deaths confirmed among the more than 600 infected aboard the cruise ship. South Korea also announced its first death Thursday.

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SoftBank to cut its stake to get T-Mobile's Sprint deal done

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

T-Mobile and Sprint announced a revised merger agreement that will see SoftBank getting a smaller share of the combined company, while most shareholders will receive the previously agreed upon exchange rate. The companies said they hope to get the deal as early as April 1.

Why it matters: The amended deal reflects the decline in Sprint's business, while leaving most shareholders' stake intact and removing another hurdle to the deal's closure.