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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
A diverse and growing coalition is pushing Congress to raise the federal age limit for buying tobacco products from 18 to 21. It's even attracting some industry support, potentially as a way to help avoid a regulatory crackdown on e-cigarettes.
The big picture: Seven states and nearly 450 cities have already raised their smoking age. The change is gaining more steam in Congress partly due to the rise of youth vaping and FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb's aggressive response to that trend.
Where it stands: Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz and Republican Rep. Robert Aderholt previously proposed raising the age limit to 21, and there's a bipartisan push to try again.
The other side: There's plenty of resistance. "I wouldn't do that," said Sen. Richard Shelby, chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee.
As various members of the drug supply chain blame one another for rising prescription drug costs, they're all making a lot of money off of said drugs.
While it's true that patients' discounts increased, that didn't stunt the growth in what people pay for drugs, mostly via premiums.
The bottom line: All of these profit increases are eventually borne by all of us through premiums, taxes and out-of-pocket costs.
Health Care Service Corp. didn't pay a dime in federal taxes in 2018, according to its latest financial report.
The big picture: As Axios reported last year, the Blue Cross Blue Shield companies were on track to retain huge sums of money in 2018 due to the Republican tax overhaul and the growing profitability of their health plans. HCSC was among the biggest winners.
By the numbers: HCSC, which is the parent of the Blues plans in Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, tallied a net profit of $4.1 billion on $35.9 billion of revenue in 2018 vs. $1.3 billion net profit on $32.6 billion of revenue in 2017.
How it works: The FDA maintains a public database of injuries or other problems caused by medical devices. It's a valuable tool for researchers, and also for doctors, who want to assess devices' safety before using them in patients.
Driving the news: A mountain of reports about surgical staples and staplers have piled up in the secret system, outside of public view, leaving doctors unaware of the products' risks.
A day after that story ran, the FDA sent a letter to doctors saying it's concerned about the safety of surgical staples and staplers.
The agency said it has received reports of 366 deaths, over 9,000 serious injuries and over 32,000 malfunctions.
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