Good morning. It's now March, which means that it should no longer be snowing, but Mother Nature doesn't listen to me.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
The past 2 years have seen a surge in the number of prescription drugs approved through a special process that was designed to help foster new treatments for rare diseases.
Why it matters: Rapid scientific advances have helped fuel this rise. But the sheer volume of rare-disease approvals is also sparking a debate about whether they're too easy to obtain, or whether they give drugmakers a way to game the system.
How it works: Federal law gives extra market protection and tax credits to "orphan" drugs — those that treat conditions affecting fewer than 200,000 people. The financial incentives are there to help offset the fact that not many people will buy these drugs.
Amazon is the latest tech company to crack down on content spreading false information about vaccines from its platform.
The big picture: Amazon's actions follow similar ones taken by other tech companies like Google and Facebook, which have also taken steps to reduce the availability of anti-vaccine content on their platforms in response to increased public pressure.
There are hundreds of gene therapies in the development pipeline, raising the question of how these drugs — which could have price tags upwards of $1 million — will be paid for, and whether our system is built to handle that, the Wall Street Journal reports.
But even if these costs are justified, our health care system isn't designed for large, one-time payments.
Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images
There is a new battle brewing among doctors, patient advocates and pharma companies over — believe it or not — human excrement.
The FDA is expected to make a final decision soon, although in 2013 it made a draft decision to regulate the procedure as a drug.
One major concern for critics: Treating the therapy as a drug will give it a 12-year monopoly period upon approval.
Have a great week. Send any feedback or tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.