Jan 10, 2019

The Senate's plan to tackle drug prices

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

Sen. Chuck Grassley, the new chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, told reporters yesterday he has three top priorities on drug pricing.

He's targeting a bill to ban "pay for delay" settlements between brand-name and generic drug companies; the CREATES Act, which would give generics easier access to the product samples they need to develop their drugs; and a bill to let Americans import cheaper drugs from Canada.

Between the lines: Grassley isn’t quite as pharma-friendly as the committee’s last chairman, former Sen. Orrin Hatch. The industry opposes all three of those measures.

  • One bit of good news for pharma, though: Grassley said he wants to see changes to the Trump administration’s proposal to base Medicare payments for certain drugs on the prices that European countries pay.

Democrats, meanwhile, are all about Trump’s European-pricing plan. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will introduce a similar proposal today, alongside a bill to allow drug importation and another to let Medicare negotiate directly for the cost of prescription drugs, rather than relying on third parties.

Go deeper: The drug pricing maze

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Judge rules against Trump policy limiting public comment on energy leasing

Photo: Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty Images

A federal judge on Thursday overturned a 2018 Trump administration directive that sought to speed up energy leases on public land by limiting the amount of time the public could comment.

Why it matters: U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge Ronald Bush's decision voids almost a million acres of leases in the West, according to The Washington Post. It's a victory for environmentalists, who tried to block the change as part of an effort to protect the habitat of the at-risk greater sage grouse.

  • The ruling invalidated five oil and gas leases in Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming, and affected 104,688 square miles of greater sage-grouse habitat, per The Associated Press.
  • Leases in greater sage-grouse habitat will return to allowing 30 days of public comment and administrative protest.

The big picture: From Axios' Amy Harder, this is the latest in a long and convoluted list of regulatory rollbacks the Trump administration is pursuing on environmental rules that courts are, more often than not, rebutting. With Congress gridlocked on these matters, expect the courts to be the default way Trump's agenda faces checks (unless, of course, a Democrat wins the White House this November).

Your best defense against coronavirus

Photo: Adrian Greeman/Construction Photography/Avalon/Getty Images

Washing your hands is the best way to protect against the novel coronavirus, according to doctors and health officials, as the virus continues to spread around the globe.

Why it matters: Frequent hand washing can stop germs from spreading in a community, a known preventative for COVID-19 and influenza.

Major League Soccer embarks on its 25th season

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As Major League Soccer begins its 25th season, the league is financially stable and surging in popularity, and its 26 teams have gorgeous facilities and rapidly increasing valuations.

  • It also continues to expand, with David Beckham's Inter Miami and Nashville SC set to debut this season as the 25th and 26th teams. Plans are in place to reach 30 franchises by 2022 — triple the number from 2004.
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