Good morning ... D.C. readers: Join Axios' Mike Allen tomorrow morning for a look into what 2019 holds for health care policy.
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Last year, we knew the multistate lawsuit against generic drug manufacturers — alleging anticompetitive behavior like price-fixing and squashing generic competitors — involved at least a dozen companies and 15 drugs.
That has since exploded to include at least 16 companies and 300 drugs, the Washington Post reports.
We knew this could be big. Axios' Bob Herman reminds us that when state attorneys general opened the investigative floodgates last year, they warned:
“The Plaintiff States continue to investigate additional conspiracies…and will likely bring additional actions based on those conspiracies at the appropriate time in the future.”
The bottom line: “This is most likely the largest cartel in the history of the United States,” Joseph Nielsen, Connecticut’s assistant attorney general, told the Post. The companies say the lawsuit has no merit.
The big picture: Government reports over the years have long sounded the alarm over “extraordinary price increases” among generic drugs. And as we recently reported, generic drugs are ripe for price games because of all the middlemen that are involved.
The National Institutes of Health will release a funding opportunity soon for research into a potential replacement for fetal tissue.
Flashback: HHS announced in September that it was pulling back on federally funded research that relied on fetal tissue — a move anti-abortion advocates had pushed for.
So the NIH is looking for an alternative, and will spend up to $20 million over the next 2 years.
No way to run a health care system. Photo: Getty Images
Britain’s National Health Service does many things that would be unthinkable in the U.S., but this one may take the cake: It’s banning fax machines.
Faxes still account for as much as 75% of all medical communication in the U.S., Vox reported earlier this year.
As the pharmaceutical industry fights the Trump administration's plan to tie some Medicare payments to other countries' drug prices, it has argued that higher U.S. prices give the U.S. better access to new drugs.
That's true, Axios' Caitlin Owens reports this morning, although the differences in access don't seem to help much, given that the U.S. still has such poor health outcomes.
Between the lines: In 2017, the U.S. approved more drugs than the EU did: 36 drugs were approved in both countries, 52 were only approved in the U.S. and 15 were only approved in the EU, per the NDA Group, a drug development consultancy.
The other side: Some experts question pharma's implication that lower prices would make drugmakers less interested in a market as big as the U.S.
Screenshot from Twitter
With Affordable Care Act enrollment lagging well behind last year's results, former President Obama jumped into the PR mix yesterday to encourage young people to sign up.
Yes, but: Obama is obviously still popular with plenty of people, including many younger people, but it'll be hard to turn around sagging enrollment numbers with any sort of outside influence — even Obama.