Good morning ... Sad news for $600: The Axios health care team sends its best wishes to this beloved game show host, who announced yesterday that he has pancreatic cancer.
Outgoing Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb presided over 2 years of relative leniency toward novel drug therapies, according to an Evaluate analysis.
Why it matters: While this was good for investors and drug companies, the impact on patients isn't yet clear, Axios' Caitlin Owens writes.
Most of these experimental approvals were for cancer drugs, which can get approved quickly when a patient is out of options.
Details: In 2017 and 2018, there were record numbers of accelerated drug approvals based on early signs that the drug was effective, rather than the full approval process.
Republican Sen. Susan Collins and a bipartisan group of her colleagues are wading very gently into the debate about drug companies' patent protections, specifically the "thickets" of patents that keep competitors at bay for complex biologic drugs.
Driving the news: Collins introduced a bill yesterday that would ensure that biologics' patents are included on a list the FDA already maintains.
Reality check: This is not necessarily a very muscular bill.
Yes, but: Any congressional interest in drug patents — and any tacit agreement that pharma companies game that system — opens a door that the industry's lobbyists are working very hard to keep closed.
Go deeper: Big Pharma's GOP firewall is weakening
Pharmaceutical companies put a lot of the blame for high drug prices on pharmacy benefit managers. But big drug companies are also big employers — which means they rely on PBMs to manage their own health care benefits.
Why it matters: PBMs are part of the system, so it's not necessarily surprising that drug companies use them.
Between the lines: The 7 pharma executives who testified before the Senate last week spent plenty of time beating up on PBMs. My colleague Bob Herman went back to ask those 7 companies how they handle pharmacy benefits for their own employees.
The intrigue: When it comes to public policy, drugmakers argue that PBMs' discounts should be delivered to customers at the pharmacy counter, rather than held back and used to reduce insurance premiums. But it's unclear whether that's how they operate.
Remember when President Trump campaigned on a health care platform of eliminating "the lines around the states?" Well, that particular white whale has reemerged.
The Trump administration posted a 15-page document yesterday asking for public comment on a range of questions related to the interstate sale of health insurance — including questions about using part of the Affordable Care Act to make that change.
How it works: Critics see this as a backdoor way to deregulate insurance. If a patient in New York can buy a lightly regulated policy from Iowa, what good are New York's rules about what plans have to cover and how they have to cover it?
Between the lines: The administration already took a bit of a victory lap on this front when it expanded access to association health plans.
Between the lines: A lot is still unknown about Haven, other than that it will use "data and technology" to try to improve employer health care and that it is "committed to doing this work for the long term," according to a note from Haven CEO Atul Gawande.