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Wikimedia Creative Commons

Sarepta Therapeutics announced this morning it will sell its rare pediatric disease priority review voucher to Gilead Sciences for $125 million, giving Gilead the rights to have one of its drugs receive fast-track approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

The vouchers let drug companies get a decision on their medicines within six months, rather than the standard 10-plus months. The FDA awarded Sarepta the voucher last year at the same time the agency green-lighted Sarepta's drug that treats Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a move that was controversial at the time because there was disagreement over whether the drug was beneficial. Sarepta still has to conduct a clinical trial to back up the benefits of that drug.

Why this matters: Priority review vouchers have become valuable commodities as drug companies look for ways to jump ahead in the FDA line. There have been a handful of transactions in the decade that vouchers have been around. But Sarepta's $125 million deal fetched a lower price than the two most recent voucher sales of $350 million and $245 million. Analysts at investment bank Leerink Partners thought Sarepta could have gotten at least $200 million, raising questions of whether there is a "broader decline" of interest in the vouchers that command "increasingly astronomical" price tags.

Go deeper

23 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Senate retirements could attract GOP troublemakers

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Roy Blunt's retirement highlights the twin challenge facing Senate Republicans: finding good replacement candidates and avoiding a pathway for potential troublemakers to join their ranks.

Why it matters: While the midterm elections are supposed to be a boon to the party out of power, the recent run of retirements — which may not be over — is upending that assumption for the GOP in 2022.

Congressional diversity growing - slowly

Data: Brookings Institution and Pew Research Center; Note: No data on Native Americans in Congress before the 107th Congress; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The number of non-white senators and House members in the 535-seat Congress has been growing steadily in the past several decades — but representation largely lags behind the overall U.S. population.

Why it matters: Non-whites find it harder to break into the power system because of structural barriers such as the need to quit a job to campaign full time for office, as Axios reported in its latest Hard Truths Deep Dive.

Staff for retiring Senate Republicans a K Street prize

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The retirements of high-profile Senate Republicans mean a lot of experienced staffers will soon be seeking new jobs, and Washington lobbying and public affairs firms are eyeing a potential glut of top-notch talent.

Why it matters: Roy Blunt is the fifth Republican dealmaker in the Senate to announce his retirement next year. Staffers left behind who can navigate the upper chamber of Congress will be gold for the city’s influence industry.