Situational awareness: The House yesterday passed a bill containing measures to lower drug prices, Politico reports.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
The pharmaceutical industry is under fire in the public eye, in Congress and in the courts. And it mostly brought this on itself — through price hikes, allegedly anticompetitive behavior and aggressive opioid marketing.
The big picture: There's a real debate to be had about the value of new, innovative, sometimes life-saving drugs. But the industry has clouded its own argument, and weakened its own political standing, through a slew of bad behavior.
Driving the news: New, scientifically advanced therapies come with eye-popping prices, but they're often medical breakthroughs.
Congress is considering changes to patent law, saying brand-name manufacturers "game" the system to unfairly keep generics at bay.
The other side: Pharma argues that some controversial behaviors — like the steady increase in prices — are a result of drug middlemen's practices, and that they're necessary to fund the research that will lead to more breakthrough therapies.
The bottom line: "I don't think we should expect the industry to be a moral actor when everything we do in U.S. policy regarding pharma focuses ... purely on money and financial incentives," said Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center's Peter Bach.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services yesterday declined to implement a previously proposed measure that would give insurers more flexibility around the coverage of certain drugs in Part D.
Between the lines: Patient advocates celebrated the decision, but it's also a win for the pharmaceutical industry.
Ambulnz, a startup that dispatches non-emergency ambulances, has filed paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission to raise $90 million in outside funding.
The bottom line: Ambulnz is seeking a lot of cash, but it's unclear how the company operates, my colleagues Bob Herman and Kia Kokalitcheva report.
What they're not saying: The Ambulnz website is sparse on details, and there's no explanation of how it earns money or how it works with health insurers.
What we know: Ambulnz says it offers "non-emergency patient transportation services," such as moving patients between hospitals and nursing homes or getting people to their doctor appointments.
The services are expensive.
The big picture: Like other premium health care services, we don't know how big the market and demand for this particular service is, given the high cost, narrow purpose and cheaper alternatives.
The U.S. isn't the only country that is struggling with opioid deaths, although it is seeing the most, according to a new OECD report.
Between the lines: Opioid overprescribing has been a global problem, the report says, although some countries with high rates of opioid availability don't also have high rates of overdose deaths. This suggests that appropriate regulation can have a big impact.
Haven COO Jack Stoddard has departed the company just nine months after starting, CNBC reports.
Why it matters: "Losing such a key executive so early in the process could be a big setback for Haven," CNBC's Christina Farr writes.
Have a great weekend!