Novartis is giving away about 100 doses a year of the most expensive drug in the world, Zolgensma — a gene therapy that cures children of a deadly disease, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Between the lines: The free drug will be offered via a lottery system, which some patient groups say is inappropriate and unfair, as it fails to account for need.

  • The program is designed to make the drug accessible to a limited number of patients outside of the U.S. There's a high demand for the $2.1 million drug in countries where it hasn't yet been approved.

My thought bubble: This is great news for a lucky few patients, but it's not a long-term solution to the world's issues with access to pricey drugs.

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The next cliff for the unemployed

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A program supporting Americans who are typically ineligible for unemployment benefits will expire at the end of the year, with millions still relying on it as the labor market sputters.

Why it matters: The result could be catastrophic for the economic recovery that Wall Street fears is already fragile.

The apocalypse scenario

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democratic lawyers are preparing to challenge any effort by President Trump to swap electors chosen by voters with electors selected by Republican-controlled legislatures. One state of particular concern: Pennsylvania, where the GOP controls the state house.

Why it matters: Trump's refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, together with a widely circulated article in The Atlantic about how bad the worst-case scenarios could get, is drawing new attention to the brutal fights that could jeopardize a final outcome.

Federal judge rules Trump administration can't end census early

Census workers outside Lincoln Center in New York. Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

A federal judge ruled late Thursday that the Trump administration could not end the 2020 census a month early.

Why it matters: The decision states that an early end — on Sept. 30, instead of Oct. 31 — would likely produce inaccuracies and thus impact political representation and government funding around the country.

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