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President Trump and HHS Secretary Alex Azar. Photo: Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images

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. This is pharma's second notable setback in just a few months. It was also caught off guard by a Medicare change in a recent spending bill, and failed to persuade lawmakers to reverse that policy in their opioids legislation.

  • The drug industry was "blindsided" by last week's proposal, which was far more aggressive than anything they had expected to see from a Republican administration, my colleague Jonathan Swan and I reported this weekend.
  • "It's a totally new day when it comes to how congressional Republicans message this," a pharmaceutical industry lobbyist told Axios of last week's proposal. "This used to be kind of off limits, and it's definitely not now. And not only is it not off limits, it's kind of popular for them to talk about."

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.

  • Pharma industry PACs have given almost $9 million to Republican candidates this cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, on top of $11 million in 2016 and $9 million in 2014.

Is the romance over? Not necessarily, the industry lobbyist said — Republicans are still a better bet for pharma than increasingly progressive Democrats.

  • A lot will depend on whether Trump's plan actually comes to fruition. The lobbyist said Republicans will likely say some of it needs to work its way through Congress — where it's likely to die — even if they didn't say much on the merits last week.

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?”

Go deeper

Food delivery "ghost kitchens" face major obstacles

Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The growing popularity of food delivery has given rise to startups that open "ghost kitchens" — kitchens in warehouses or trailers that prepare food solely for delivery and have no option to dine in.

  • But they can come with a whole host of problems.

The big picture: The concept of "ghost kitchens" has been dubbed the next big thing in the future of services, with high profile backers like Uber founder Travis Kalanick. But these kitchens can be hard to run or unsafe.

1 hour ago - Health

Federal judge blocks Biden vaccine mandate for health workers

President Biden delivers remarks on the Omicron COVID-19 variant at the White House on Nov. 29. Photo: Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday blocked the Biden administration from enforcing a coronavirus vaccine mandate for health care workers at federally funded facilities nationwide.

The big picture: The order comes one day after a federal judge in Missouri halted the mandate, which has a Jan. 4 deadline, in 10 states.

CNN suspends Chris Cuomo indefinitely

Chris Cuomo in 2019. Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images for THR

CNN announced Tuesday evening that it has suspended anchor Chris Cuomo indefinitely following new revelations about his involvement in the management of his brother's sexual harassment scandal.

Driving the news: New documents released Monday showed that Cuomo used his contacts to garner information about the women accusing his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, of sexual harassment, as well as of emerging media coverage relating to the scandal.

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