Good morning ... D.C. readers: Wednesday morning, join Axios' Evan Ryan for a business-leader-stacked conversation on the private sector's role in advancing gender equality.
The lineup: Arne Sorenson, Marriott CEO; Anne Pramaggiore, Exelon Utilities CEO; Tony West, Uber Chief Legal Officer; and Lilly Ledbetter, the namesake of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. RSVP here.
Ten companies controlled half of the health care industry's $50 billion of global profit in the third quarter of this year, according to my colleague Bob Herman's analysis of financial documents for 112 publicly traded health care corporations.
The bottom line: Americans spend a lot more money on hospital and physician care than prescription drugs, but pharmaceutical companies pocket a lot more of than other parts of the industry.
By the numbers: The health care industry's $50 billion of profit came from $636 billion of revenue, equating to a cumulative profit margin of almost 8%. Those are the highest figures of the past four quarters.
The big picture: The health care industry arguably has more financial power now than at any point in its history, and a split Congress likely won't change that in the short term — even though patients are fed up with the system.
Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said that if the agency raises the bar for approving new opioids — which he's open to — that new approach won't affect other drug categories.
Why it matters: There's long been a debate over whether new drugs should be approved or rejected in the context of what's already on the market. That might become the new rule for opioids, but Gottlieb made clear that the industry doesn't need to worry about a slippery slope.
The big picture: Currently, FDA approval is based on whether a drug is safe and effective. Some people argue that they should also be evaluated against existing drugs in the same arena.
The other side: "The F.D.A.’s bar [for drug approval], while meaningful, often isn’t very useful for what physicians and patients really care about every day: how effective and safe drugs are compared with one another," Aaron Carroll, a professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine, wrote in the New York Times in August.
Health care was a central part of Democrats' successful takeover of the House, and it will also be one of the first areas where they use that newfound power, NYT reports.
What we're watching: House Democrats will likely vote to participate in the legal defense of the Affordable Care Act, against a lawsuit aiming to get the law thrown out.