Overnight Health Care: House Democrats slam pharma CEOs for price hikes driven by revenue, executive bonuses | Ex-FDA employees express worries to Congress over politicization of vaccines

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.



a man wearing a suit and tie: Overnight Health Care: House Democrats slam pharma CEOs for price hikes driven by revenue, executive bonuses | Ex-FDA employees express worries to Congress over politicization of vaccines | Fauci said his mask stance was 'taken out of context' by Trump


© Washington Examiner/Pool
Overnight Health Care: House Democrats slam pharma CEOs for price hikes driven by revenue, executive bonuses | Ex-FDA employees express worries to Congress over politicization of vaccines | Fauci said his mask stance was ‘taken out of context’ by Trump

Top House Democrat: Parties ‘much closer’ to a COVID deal ‘than we’ve ever been’

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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.

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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.

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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.

Atlas, a

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Olive Garden Hikes as Revenue Heads South

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Sep 24, 2020 (Baystreet.ca via COMTEX) —
Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) on Thursday reported that its revenue fell by more than 28% in its fiscal first quarter as the company’s business slowly recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Olive Garden parent reported fiscal first-quarter net income of $36.1 million, or 28 cents per share, down from $170.6 million, or $1.37 cents per share, a year earlier. Analysts were expecting earnings of five cents per share.

Excluding losses from discontinued operations, Darden earned $37.3 million in the latest period, compared with $171.8 million a year ago.

Net sales dropped 28.4% to $1.53 billion, missing expectations of $1.56 billion. Same-store sales across all of its restaurant brands plunged 29% during the quarter.

The company’s fine dining business is under the most pressure, with same-store sales shrinking by 39%. Olive Garden, which accounts for roughly half of Darden’s revenue, saw its same-store sales decline by 28%. LongHorn Steakhouse’s same-store sales fell by just 18%.

Darden expects its fiscal second-quarter sales to fall 18% compared with the same time last year. The company is also forecasting diluted net earnings per share from continuing operations in a range of 65 cents to 75 cents.

Darden also said that it fully repaid its $270-million term loan on Aug. 10, citing its “steadily improving cash flows” in the quarter and greater confidence in its cash flow projections. It is also reinstating its dividend and will pay out 30 cents per share for this quarter’s results. The company has $655 million of cash on hand.

DRI shares gained $6.30, or 7%, to $96.30.

COMTEX_371807858/2559/2020-09-24T10:00:45

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Toll hikes in effect on NJ Turnpike, Garden State Parkway

TRENTON, N.J. — Toll hikes on several major New Jersey highways went into effect Sunday morning.

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority voted in May to increase tolls by 36% on the New Jersey Turnpike and by 27% on the Garden State Parkway.

On average, the toll hike is about an additional $1.30 on the New Jersey Turnpike. The cost of the Parkway’s cash tolls at mainline plazas jumped about 40 cents.

Tolls on the Atlantic City Expressway also increased.

The board’s 7-0 decision was made despite pleas from many people to delay the vote because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The toll increases will help fund a $24 billion construction capital plan that spans several decades.

Meanwhile, gas prices in the state have dipped and analysts expect the decline to continue.

The average price of a gallon of regular gas in New Jersey on Friday was $2.22, down 2 cents from the week before, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic.

The national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline was $2.20, also down 2 cents from the previous week.

Analysts say the approach of fall generally means decreased demand and therefore savings at the pump, but gas prices could drop even lower than prices seen so far this year.

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