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Kaiser Health News reports that pharmaceutical companies are taking advantage of the Orphan Drug Act — a law aimed at rare diseases — to maximize profits.

What's the Orphan Drug Act?: It encourages drug manufacturers to develop "orphan drugs" to treat diseases affecting fewer than 200,000 people by providing financial incentives and seven years of exclusive production.

What's happened?: Drugmakers have received orphan status for medicines that were previously approved for mass market use or had received orphan status previously by testing them against new, rare diseases. Seven of the 10 top selling drugs in the United States have orphan status.

Why it matters: President-elect Trump has made it clear that he's going to keep drug prices on the agenda. Stories like this may make it tougher for congressional Republicans to resist, even if they're skeptical of government action.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
1 min ago - Energy & Environment

Higher education expands its climate push

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New or expanded climate initiatives are popping up at several universities, a sign of the topic's rising prominence and recognition of the threats and opportunities it creates.

Why it matters: Climate and clean energy initiatives at colleges and universities are nothing new, but it shows expanded an campus focus as the effects of climate change are becoming increasingly apparent, and the world is nowhere near the steep emissions cuts that scientists say are needed to hold future warming in check.

Ina Fried, author of Login
28 mins ago - Economy & Business

The pandemic isn't slowing tech

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Thursday's deluge of Big Tech earnings reports showed one thing pretty clearly: COVID-19 may be bad in all sorts of ways, but it's not slowing down the largest tech companies. If anything, it's helping some companies, like Amazon and Apple.

Yes, but: With the pandemic once again worsening in the U.S. and Europe, it's not clear how long the tech industry's winning streak can last.

Texas early voting surpasses 2016's total turnout

Early voting in Austin earlier this month. Photo: Sergio Flores/Getty Images

Texas' early and mail-in voting totals for the 2020 election have surpassed the state's total voter turnout in 2016, with 9,009,850 ballots already cast compared to 8,969,226 in the last presidential cycle.

Why it matters: The state's 38 Electoral College votes are in play — and could deliver a knockout blow for Joe Biden over President Trump — despite the fact that it hasn't backed a Democrat for president since 1976.