Good morning … The Oscars are adding a new category for “Best Popular Film” while pushing some of the awards for actual artistic achievement into the commercial breaks.
Is this for you? Are you the broken soul who looks upon this cash grab and thinks: Yes, it's about time all these superhero franchises got some attention! Yes, commercial success should be a factor in gauging artistic merit! Yes, I’m so tired of the Academy rewarding low-budget indie films like “The Lord of the Rings” and “Titanic”!
Well, congrats. We all now live in a nightmare of your perverse design.
Chris Collins leaves a New York court yesterday. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
One Australian drug company — with only one (failed) product in one (failed) clinical trial — just keeps tripping up current and former House Republicans.
Driving the news: Federal prosecutors in New York indicted Rep. Chris Collins yesterday on charges of insider trading, stemming from the sale of shares in a company called Innate Immunotherapeutics.
It's the same company you may remember from Tom Price's confirmation as Health and Human Services secretary. He tripled his investment when divesting of the stock to become secretary, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The company did not have any FDA-approved drugs on the market, and had just one product in development at the time the members of Congress bought their stock. It was in the midst of clinical trials for a rheumatoid arthritis drug.
Why it matters: An indictment on charges of insider trading, with a pharmaceutical company, while writing the laws for pharmaceutical companies, is not the look Republicans would have wanted heading into what's already a difficult midterm election.
The Senate plans to vote on a standalone funding bill for the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education shortly after it returns from its recess next week. Aides from both parties told my colleague Caitlin Owens they expect it to pass.
This is perennially one of the most controversial spending bills. The Labor-HHS spending bill hasn't passed on its own, outside of a bigger spending package, since 2007.
What we're watching: Whether senators can resist the temptation to push for political amendment votes while the package is on the floor — and whether it can be reconciled with the House.
However, defense spending is a huge priority for most Republicans, which is why leadership plans to pair up the two appropriations bills.
Mylan — the company that makes the Epi-Pen and got in so much PR trouble raising its price by 400% — is considering whether to sell off some of its portfolio, or even the whole company.
A trio of Mar-a-Lago members with no military or government experience — Marvel chairman Ike Perlmutter, Palm Beach doctor Bruce Moskowitz and lawyer Marc Sherman — are wielding enormous influence over the VA, according to a ProPublica investigation.
Why it matters: It’s not unusual for presidents to sometimes rely on outside or even informal advice about certain issues. But ProPublica paints a picture that goes well beyond advice, reporting that the “Mar-a-Lago Crowd” influenced personnel decisions and at times directed policy initiatives.
The other side: “While we were always willing to share our thoughts, we did not make or implement any type of policy, possess any authority over agency decisions, or direct government officials to take any actions,” the three said in a statement.
CVS Health CEO Larry Merlo used his company’s second-quarter earnings call yesterday to shine some light on rebates, one of the most secretive components of the drug supply chain, Axios' Bob Herman reports.
By the numbers: Merlo said CVS will keep $300 million worth of drug rebates from pharmaceutical companies this year, which equates to about 3% of its earnings.
Yes, but: “Rebate” can be an imprecise term. As we’ve previously reported, lawyers for big PBMs carefully define what constitutes a “rebate," and that definition often does not benefit PBMs' clients.
The big picture: Rebates are an important part of the drug pricing debate, and PBMs use them to their advantage. But the political focus on rebates also deflects attention away from pharmaceutical manufacturers — the companies that ultimately still dictate the high list prices of prescription drugs.
What we're watching today: HHS Secretary Alex Azar speaks to ALEC, the conservative advocacy organization (12:30 pm; livestream).
What's the greatest robbery in Best Picture history? I gotta go with 1976, when "Rocky" beat out "All the President's Men," "Taxi Driver" and, most criminally of all, "Network." But 1997 and 2007 were also grave miscarriages of justice.
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