Welcome to Wednesday night’s Overnight Health Care, where we’re waiting to see if there’s going to be a deal on a new COVID-19 relief package.
Top House Democrat: Parties ‘much closer’ to a COVID deal ‘than we’ve ever been’
The head of the House Democratic Caucus said Wednesday that the negotiators seeking an emergency coronavirus deal are “much closer” to a deal than they have been at any point during the long weeks of on-again-off-again talks.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) pointed to comments by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin indicating a willingness to embrace $1.5 trillion in new stimulus spending – a number on par with the bipartisan relief package offered last week by the Problem Solvers Caucus – noting that that figure is far closer to the Democrats’ $2.2 trillion package than Republicans have previously backed.
After almost two months of stalled talks, Mnuchin and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have resumed the negotiations this week by phone. In some sign that progress is being made, Mnuchin met with Pelosi in the Speaker’s office on Wednesday afternoon.
Read more here.
House Democrats slam pharma CEOs for price hikes driven by revenue, executive bonuses
An explosive staff report from the Democrats on the House Oversight Committee found that the CEOs of Teva and Celgene raised drug prices exponentially for no reason other than to boost profits and inflate executives’ bonuses.
Oversight Democrats at a hearing on Wednesday pressed those CEOs, and put them on the defensive.
Highlights: Internal documents obtained by the committee found Celgene raised the price of the cancer drug Revlimid 22 times.
The drug, approved to treat the blood cancer multiple myeloma, more than tripled in price since its launch in 2005, driven almost exclusively by the need to meet company revenue targets and shareholder earnings goals.
In 2005, a monthly supply of Revlimid was priced at $4,515. Today, the same monthly supply is priced at $16,023, a cost of $719 per pill.
Easy target: The report found that executives at Celgene and Teva specifically targeted the U.S. market for massive increases because Medicare is not allowed to negotiate drug prices.
Context: The Democratic-led report comes just weeks before Election Day, and follows a flurry of mostly empty last-ditch efforts by President Trump aimed at showing he is taking action on drug pricing. Trump has made lowering drug prices a key part of his messaging for years, dating back to the 2016 campaign, but has little to show for all his bluster.
Read more here.
Atlas, health officials feuds add to Trump coronavirus turmoil
The feuds between White House coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas and top public health officials are raising more questions about President Trump‘s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.