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Many drug companies have conceded that the days of super-sized price increases, which sometimes occurred multiple times per year, are gone for now. President Trump's rhetoric around price controls and public outrage over high drug costs have forced the industry to soften, as it heavily lobbies politicians behind the scenes.

So does that mean the drug industry will lose a lot of money? Not really. First-quarter reports show many of the largest pharmaceutical companies increased their profits compared with the same period last year. Sales of some drugs lagged, but companies still hiked list prices by high single digits — well above general inflation.

Expand chart
Data: Company earnings reports; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

A handful of major pharmaceutical firms reported higher first-quarter earnings this week. Part of that was due to cutting back on operating expenses, like research and marketing, but list prices were also raised for many drugs.

  • Amgen: Profit jumped 9%, surpassing $2 billion, even though sales declined. Amgen raised the list price of its major rheumatoid arthritis drug Enbrel by 8.4% in January, according to data obtained by Axios, as a way to offset competing drugs.
  • AbbVie: Profit soared 26%. Arthritis blockbuster drug Humira, which got an 8.4% list price boost in January, continues to be the company's biggest earner.
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb: A 32% jolt to earnings came thanks to big sales of cancer drug Opdivo.
  • Celgene: First-quarter profit almost hit $1 billion as demand for multiple myeloma drug Revlimid took off. Celgene raised the list price of Revlimid by 8% in January.
  • Biogen: Sales of its multiple sclerosis drug Tecfidera basically stayed the same despite an 8% price hike in January. Biogen's profit declined, but it was still around three-quarters of a billion dollars.
  • Eli Lilly: Lost money due to severance and acquisition costs, not because people weren't buying their drugs.

Go deeper

It's harder to fill the Cabinet

Data: Chamberlain, 2020, "United States of America Cabinet Appointments Dataset" Chart: Will Chase/Axios

It's harder now for presidents to win Senate confirmation for their Cabinet picks, an Axios data analysis of votes for and against nominees found.

Why it matters: It's not just Neera Tanden. The trend is a product of growing polarization, rougher political discourse and slimming Senate majorities, experts say. It means some of the nation's most vital federal agencies go without a leader and the legislative authority that comes with one.

Exclusive: Hundreds of kids held in Border Patrol stations

Migrants cross the Rio Bravo to get to El Paso, Texas. Photo: Herika Martinez/AFP via Getty Images

More than 700 children who crossed from Mexico into the United States without their parents were in Border Patrol custody as of Sunday, according to an internal Customs and Border Protection document obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The current backup is yet another sign of a brewing crisis for President Biden — and a worsening dilemma for these vulnerable children. Biden is finding it's easier to talk about preventing warehousing kids at the southern border than solving the problem.

Pompeo plots 2024 power play

Mike Pompeo in Washington on Feb. 12. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Mike Pompeo has quickly reentered the political fray, raising money for Republicans, addressing key political gatherings and joining an advocacy group run by Donald Trump's former lawyer.

Why it matters: The former secretary of state is widely considered a potential 2024 presidential contender. His professional moves this week indicate he's working to keep his name in the headlines and bolster a political brand built largely on foreign policies easily contrasted with the Biden White House.

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