Good morning ... Loyal readers of this newsletter may know I'm a big fan of Iceland. I'd be lying if I said I had never enjoyed one too many pints of Gull, the ubiquitous and very refreshing Icelandic beer. But at least I never drank all the beer in downtown Reykjavik, as a large group of Americans sailors and Marines did last week.
Hey, remember when Republicans and the pharmaceutical industry were friends? The pharmaceutical industry does.
Between the lines: Republicans on Capitol Hill barely made a peep last week after the Trump administration rolled out a drug-pricing plan that arguably goes further than the Obama administration ever attempted.
The big picture: Pharma has suffered very close to zero political losses for the past several years, thanks in part to strong lobbying and aggressive campaign contributions, which have tended to favor Republicans.
Is the romance over? Not necessarily, the industry lobbyist said — Republicans are still a better bet for pharma than increasingly progressive Democrats.
The bottom line: “The real fear is, what else is to come?" the lobbyist said. "If this is where we are 2 weeks before the election, and the House actually does flip, what are we going to see next year?”
The Trump administration’s plan to piggyback off of international drug pricing would be a lot stronger if it went after the patent process, Thomas Bollyky, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, writes for Axios Expert Voices.
The big picture: The patent system is especially powerful for complex biologic drugs. Manufacturers have been able to keep a large number of “biosimilars” — comparable to generic biologics — off the market in the U.S., while approvals have moved faster in Europe.
The dialysis industry has raised $110 million to kill a California ballot measure that would cap company profits — a “record for spending by one side on any statewide ballot measure,” according to Harriet Rowan of Kaiser Health News.
Why it matters: The dialysis industry already scored a win when Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that would have capped dialysis clinic rates if they had financial ties to charities that subsidize patients’ commercial insurance.
By the numbers: The two largest dialysis conglomerates, DaVita and Fresenius, contributed $100 million of the total.
Where it stands: Wall Street analysts who have followed the ballot measure over the past few months give it pretty low odds of voter approval, Axios' Bob Herman reports. It doesn't help that every major California newspaper ran an editorial against it.
The bottom line, from Bob: Amazon paid $753 million for PillPack, “net of cash acquired,” according to the filing.
Go deeper: Amazon’s buyout of PillPack is just a start.
Many of the exchanges for Affordable Care Act insurance still don’t have especially sophisticated tools to help consumers understand their costs, according to a review by the Council for Affordable Health Coverage, an industry group.
Where it stands: CAHC faulted several exchanges, including HealthCare.gov, for their out-of-pocket cost calculators and the information they provide to shoppers about different insurance plans’ drug coverage.
— Correction: An earlier version of this item misstated the name of the Council for Affordable Health Coverage.