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📺 Coming up on "Axios on HBO": The life-changing costs of being a whistleblower according to five who risked it all (sneak preview); Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi discusses the company's goals for profitability; and an exclusive poll on America's surging political anger. Tune in Sunday at 6pm ET/PT.
Preventable diseases are deadlier in rural America than in urban areas, a new CDC report says.
The big picture: More than 46 million Americans live in rural areas, and the system often works against them in nearly every dimension of care, Axios' Marisa Fernandez writes.
By the numbers: Percentages of preventable deaths in rural areas either mildly decreased between 2010 and 2017 or got worse, while urban counties saw significant decreases across the board.
Rural areas face access challenges, too, including a spate hospital closures and low retention of doctors.
Go deeper: The dire state of rural mental health care
The Trump administration's decision to sue Gilead Sciences — the maker of HIV prevention pills known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP — pours gasoline on the debate about how patents and prices should work when important drugs are developed by both public institutions and private companies, Axios' Bob Herman writes.
Yes, but: "None of this will address drug pricing more generally or the unique circumstances of the HIV drug market," Jen Kates, an HIV policy expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said in a thread on Twitter. "And ultimately, the stakes are quite high given that PrEP can save lives."
Where it stands: The Department of Health and Human Services said in the lawsuit that Gilead has "exaggerated its role in developing" the HIV medicines and has willfully infringed patents owned by the federal government, leading to excess profits on the backs of taxpayers. The Washington Post detailed this backstory in March.
By the numbers: The two drugs in question, Truvada and Descovy, are significant moneymakers for Gilead.
The bottom line: This lawsuit faces a long road in court, and pharmacies will soon stock generic versions of Truvada.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
In the past year, Juul has gone from exceeding its 2018 projections and becoming a venture capital fundraising machine to being regulators' favorite punching bag, Marisa reports.
Driving the news: Juul, the nation's largest maker of vaping products, announced Thursday it will freeze sales of its popular mint flavor, leaving only menthol and tobacco flavors available, as it tries to stay ahead of the looming crackdown on vaping by the Trump administration.
Where it stands: Juul has been pulling its flavored pods off the market for the past year.
The big picture: The Food and Drug Administration declared youth vaping an epidemic in 2018. This past summer, the Centers for Disease Control and prevention advised people to stop vaping entirely over the pulmonary lung disease from vaping.
Yes, but: Juul's self-policing and rapid campaign to convince America it does not target kids does not account for its international markets.
Walgreens handled nearly one in five oxycodone and hydrocodone pills that were shipped to pharmacies between 2006 and 2012, as the opioid epidemic worsened, the Washington Post reports.
Between the lines: Walgreens is one of the companies being sued by thousands of communities across the country in federal court.
By the numbers: Walgreens — which bought the vast majority of its pain pills directly from manufacturers, bypassing distributors — bought about 13 billion pills over this time period. Its purchases grew over time.
Because it served as its own distributor, Walgreens was also responsible for alerting the DEA to suspicious orders by its own pharmacies.
The bottom line: The opioid epidemic's roots run deep into the health care system, revealing profit-seeking behavior throughout the industry — which had deadly consequences.
Air ambulances' use declined between 2008 and 2017 among people with employer coverage, but the average price of a trip more than doubled, according to new data from the Health Care Cost Institute, which is funded by insurers.
Why it matters: Air ambulances are a frequent source of surprise medical bills, and often aren't covered by private insurance. These bills can be for eye-popping amounts.
Details: There are 2 types of air ambulances, airplanes and helicopters. The use of helicopter ambulances declined by 14.3%, while the use of airplanes stayed about the same.
Go deeper: How air ambulances got so expensive