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September 19, 2019

Good afternoon, readers.


Responding to widespread outrage, in the midst of an election season, lawmakers are proposing a whole bunch of initiatives to crack down on high prescription drug prices in America.


The latest additions to the debate (none of which are necessarily expected to pass) include an earlier plan from Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley and a bill introduced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats on Thursday.


It is extremely difficult to suss out any particular legislation’s chances in such as heated political environment, and especially on a heated personal issue like health care. Democrats and Republicans alike have expressed plenty of antipathy against the drug industry over its pricing practices. Getting everyone on the same page is far more difficult.


The House Democrats’ newly proposed bill is reportedly dead on arrival in the Senate (it would include direct drug price negotiations by the federal government that would extend to, not just Medicare beneficiaries, but health care purchasers at large). Currently, drug makers have carte blanche to set their list prices in the U.S.


And then comes the twist. GOP Senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have been pushing back on the plan and even dubbed it DOA.


But President Donald Trump, a consistent, yet strategically mercurial, critic of the pharma industry, has some opinions of his own: “Because of my Administration, drug prices are down for the first time in almost 50 years — but the American people need Congress to help. I like Sen. Grassley’s drug pricing bill very much, and it’s great to see Speaker Pelosi’s bill today. Let’s get it done in a bipartisan way!” he wrote in a tweet on Thursday.


Read on for the day’s news.


Sy Mukherjee, @the_sy_guy, sayak.mukherjee@fortune.com


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DIGITAL HEALTH


Uber Health teams up with Kyruus. Uber hasn't been shy about its health care ambitions. Now, it's teaming up with medical search and scheduling provider Kyruus to bolster Uber Health's underlying business, which seeks to provide non-emergency medical transport services for consumers. "Scheduling is where access to care begins," said Uber Health chief Dan Trigub in a statement. "But factors like travel can impede a patient ultimately receiving that care. By partnering with Kyruus, our goal is to help health systems assist patients with transportation arrangements early on and remove this as a potential obstacle to access later."


INDICATIONS


The bias in cancer drug trials. BioPharma Dive highlights an important study published in the BMJ on one of the biggest oversights in cancer drug trials—a massive amount of clinical bias. This is some pretty nerdy, in-the-weeds stuff, but let me leave you with one of the biggest concerns, which raises serious questions about the cancer drug approval process: "Often, studies with methodological shortcomings produce biased findings, exaggerating the magnitude of benefit associated with the treatment under investigation."  (BioPharma Dive)


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Content From SAP

The Support of Her Company

How a company supports employees through the pivotal moments in their lives matters. ThriveXMIndex focuses on five key experiences (Career, Family, Health, Financial, and Time). Here, SAP SuccessFactors CMO Kirsten Allegri Williams shares how she reintegrated back to work after beating cancer: Watch the video.


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THE BIG PICTURE


An 8th vaping death reported in Missouri, reported lung illnesses rise to 530. The vaping-related illness story is in constant flux. An initial estimate of about 600 patients was "downgraded" after authorities refined their definition of the disease just last week. Now, the official number has grown back to 530 people, and there have been eight reported deaths associated with these illnesses. (KHN)


Does CBD actually relieve pain? The U.S. is trying to find out. The U.S. is distributing nine research grants worth $3 million to figure out whether or not the marijuana byproduct CBD (this is the not-getting-you-high component of weed) can actually treat pain. If you've been to a bodega, health food store, etc in the past year, you've probably seen all sorts of products singing the praises of CBD and its ostensibly helpful effects. The new research grants may be an initial, if small, role in determining whether those claims have any merit. (NBC News)



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REQUIRED READING


Wall Street Has Never Had a Female CEO. Why Not? by Claire Zillman


The 25 Highest Paying Companies in Americaby Chris Morris


Are Investors 'Whistling Past the Graveyard' When It Comes to the Economy? by Polina Marinova


50 Trillion Calculations Per Second in the Palm of Your Handby Aaron Pressman


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