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Don't expect to see a big shakeup once Scott Gottlieb leaves the Food and Drug Administration.
The big picture: "We are going to be carrying forward Dr. Gottlieb's vision," HHS Secretary Alex Azar told a House panel yesterday, per UPI. "His agenda is my agenda. My agenda is his agenda."
Between the lines: Continuity also seems to be the implicit message in announcing that Ned Sharpless, currently the director of the National Cancer Institute, will take over as acting FDA commissioner once Gottlieb departs.
Details: Sharpless has led NCI (it's part of the National Institutes of Health) since 2017, and had a long career in academia before that.
What's next: Sharpless will likely be on the job in the next few weeks. The White House will look for a permanent commissioner, though he could be in the running.
It's hard to set the price for a new kind of procedure until you’ve done it a couple of times, but it's hard to do it very often if you can't get paid for it. And that dynamic is causing headaches for hospitals as they wade into the complexities of CAR-T cancer treatments.
The intrigue: This isn't necessarily the standard kind of payment dispute we're used to seeing between hospitals and insurers.
A new and complex and payment system on top of a new and complex treatment makes it hard to figure out a price, and payment can take a long time to come through, even when everyone's cooperating.
Sens. Ron Wyden and Chuck Grassley. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
Senate Finance Committee leaders have asked 5 pharmacy benefit managers to come up to Capitol Hill for a hearing, as a follow-up to the panel's largely anticlimactic sit-down with pharmaceutical CEOs last month.
Why it matters: Pharma used its hearing to point the finger at PBMs. Now they may get a chance to defend themselves and try to shift the political blame back to pharma and its list prices.
Where it stands: Despite the bipartisan tenor of the drug-pricing debate, agreement on actual policy remains hard to come by, at least for now.
What we're hearing: As Vitals reported yesterday, President Trump's budget proposal revived a handful of policy ideas worth keeping an eye on as potential sources of compromise, including a new cap on seniors' out-of-pocket drug costs.
Cambia CEO Mark Ganz and Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina CEO Patrick Conway had been in serious discussions about combining their companies for more than a year before pulling the trigger yesterday.
What they're saying:
Echo Health Ventures has stakes in companies that focus on paying hospitals and doctors for good outcomes. Conway also has been an evangelist for those types of models since leaving Medicare.
Will this deal pour gasoline on that fire?
How much of this is a response to consolidating hospitals and doctors?
Will you create a new pharmacy benefit manager?
The CDC has already confirmed 228 cases of measles this year, The Hill reports, putting it easily on track to surpass the 372 cases in all of 2018.
To wit: People who flew through Los Angeles International Airport — one of the busiest airports in the world — on Feb. 21 may have been exposed to the virus there, per the L.A. Times.
Be smart: There's no need for so many of us to be unvaccinated.