Harmid / Wikimedia Commons

A federal court in Pennsylvania — on behalf of the Justice Department's antitrust division — has issued a subpoena to an unnamed Baxter International employee as it pursues a criminal investigation into how Baxter has priced and sold its IV saline products, Baxter disclosed Friday. The company said in a statement to Axios that it is "cooperating" with the Justice Department and "believes it has responsibly priced these life-sustaining products."

Why this matters: The country faces a nationwide shortage of saline, the common IV fluid found in hospitals and other health care settings. An antitrust class-action lawsuit accuses Baxter and Hospira (now part of drug giant Pfizer) of intentionally creating a saline shortage so they could jack up prices. The companies control about 90% of the IV saline market. It's an ominous sign for a company when the federal government gets involved. The subpoena asks for internal Baxter documents and "communications with competitors."

Go deeper

Over 73 million people watched the first debate on TV

Data: Nielsen; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

More than 73.1 million people watched the first presidential debate on television on Monday night, according to Nielsen ratings.

Why it matters: While that's a sizable audience for any American TV program, it's down more than 13% from the record number of TV viewers who tuned in for the first debate of the 2016 election. The chaotic nature of the debate and the overall uncertainty around this year's election may have pushed some viewers away.

Senate passes bill funding government through December

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Senate on Tuesday passed legislation to fund the federal government through Dec. 11, by a vote of 84-10.

Where it stands: The legislation will avert a government shutdown before funding expires Wednesday night and before the Nov. 3 election. The House passed the same measure last week by a vote of 359-57 after House Democrats and the Trump administration agreed on the resolution.

  • Both sides agreed early in negotiations that the bill should be a "clean" continuing resolution — meaning each party would only make small changes to existing funding levels so the measure would pass through both chambers quickly, Axios' Alayna Treene reported last week. The bill now goes to President Trump for signature.
Bryan Walsh, author of Future
58 mins ago - Technology

The age of engineering life begins

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Synthetic biology startups raised some $3 billion through the first half of 2020, up from $1.9 billion for all of 2019, as the field brings the science of engineering to the art of life.

The big picture: Synthetic biologists are gradually learning how to program the code of life the way that computer experts have learned to program machines. If they can succeed — and if the public accepts their work — synthetic biology stands to fundamentally transform how we live.

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