Health Care — Pfizer’s record pandemic earnings expected to end
🏀 High school sports are getting way too competitive: A 22 year-old coach in Virginia impersonated one of her basketball players.
On Capitol Hill, House Republicans passed their first COVID-related bills, including one that would end the health worker vaccine mandate.
But first we look at Pfizer’s record earnings and why they won’t last.
Welcome to The Hill’s Health Care roundup, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. We’re Nathaniel Weixel and Joseph Choi.
Pfizer anticipates billions in less revenue this year
Pfizer executives said the company expects a significant drop in revenue in 2023 compared to 2022 as the U.S. government ends its purchase agreement for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.
During its 2022 fourth quarter earnings call Tuesday, CEO Albert Bourla said he anticipates 2023 to be a “transition year,” as advance government purchases end and the company’s COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty and antiviral treatment Paxlovid start to become available on the commercial market.
Pfizer executives have not officially disclosed what the company will charge for its vaccine on the commercial market, but have previously said it could be between $110 and $130 a dose.
Pfizer said 2022 was a record-breaking year, as it generated nearly $57 billion in combined sales of its COVID-19 products.
- The company’s COVID-19 windfall shows just how reliant it was on federal government contracts.
- Pfizer anticipates $13.5 billion in sales for its vaccine this year, a decrease of 64 percent from 2022.
- The pharmaceutical giant said it anticipates just $8 billion in Paxlovid revenue, down 58 percent from 2022.
FDA to redo food safety program after formula crisis
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is launching an overhaul of its food safety and nutrition division in the wake of a series of crises including the recent baby formula shortage, the agency announced Tuesday.
- As part of the move, Commissioner Robert Califf said the FDA will combine two separate divisions to create a new human foods program, which will be led by a single deputy commissioner.
- The deputy commissioner will have decision-making authority over policy, strategy and regulatory program activities within the Human Foods Program as well as resource allocation and risk prioritization.
The FDA has long faced criticism that it doesn’t give enough resources to its food safety program. Those shortcomings were exposed last year as an infant formula shortage left parents scrambling.
The change announced Tuesday comes on the heels of a scathing report from the Reagan-Udall Foundation that found the FDA’s food program was too slow and risk-averse, which “compromises the agency’s willingness to act in enforcement or policy development.”
FERTILITY RATE INCREASES FOR FIRST TIME SINCE 2014: CDC
Fertility rates in the U.S. increased in 2021 for the first time since 2014, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The general fertility rate in 2021 was 56.3 births per 1,000 women in the 15 to 44-year-old age range, a 1 percent increase over 2020 numbers.
- This is the first increase since 2014, according to the report, and follows years of declines, including a recent 4 percent drop between 2019 and 2020.
- The 2021 total fertility rate, calculated as the number of births per woman across their lifetime, was estimated to be 1,664 births per 1,000 women, up 1 percent compared to 2020.
Broken down: Across age groups, birth rates decreased among women ages 15 to 24 and increased for women 25 to 44 years old. Birth rates remained the same for the youngest (10 to 14 years old) and oldest (45 to 49 years old) age groups.
IOWA BILL WOULD CRIMINALIZE MAKING, PRESCRIBING ABORTION DRUG
Republicans in the Iowa state legislature introduced a bill on Monday that would make it a felony to manufacture or prescribe mifepristone, one of two drugs used in medication abortions.
The bill would make it illegal to “manufacture, distribute, prescribe, dispense, sell or transfer” generic or brand name mifepristone in the state, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The bill text notes that it “should not be construed” as imposing liability on a woman who receives an abortion or as limiting the use of contraceptives.
In Iowa, abortion is currently legal up to 20 weeks of pregnancy. The Republican-controlled legislature passed a law in 2018 banning abortions at around six weeks of pregnancy that was subsequently signed into law by Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds. However, the law was blocked by a permanent injunction in 2019.
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last June, Reynolds has sought to overturn the injunction. Her effort was rejected by a state court in December, which the governor has promised to appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court.
House passes bill ending some vax mandates
The House passed a bill on Tuesday that seeks to end the vaccine mandate for employees at some health facilities, marking the first pandemic-related bill the Republican majority has approved since taking control of the chamber.
The legislation, titled The Freedom for Health Care Workers Act, passed in a 227-203 vote, with seven Democrats joining Republicans in passing the bill.
The measure, introduced by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), would stop the Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary from enforcing workplace regulations and standards enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic — including the vaccine mandate — at Medicare and Medicaid-certified facilities.
Under the rules, health workers at Medicare and Medicaid-certified facilities are required to have at least their first dose in a primary series of coronavirus vaccinations in order to provide care, treatment or services. More than 10 million health industry workers across roughly 76,000 facilities are subject to the vaccine requirements.
- The regulations were hotly contested in courts, with the Supreme Court ultimately ruling last year to uphold the requirements set for health workers while also overturning a similar requirement that was proposed for large employers.
- While these rules were issued in response to the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE), they are not contingent on the PHE remaining in effect. The White House announced on Monday that the PHE is set to end on May 11.
Not forever: As OSHA noted back in 2021, Medicare interim final rules such as the vaccine requirement expire three years after they are issued unless they are finalized.
“This is not an exception. The requirement is set to expire in November 2024 if CMS does not take additional action,” a spokesperson for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) said in a statement to The Hill.
WHAT WE’RE READING
- Nursing home owners drained cash while residents deteriorated, state filings suggest (Kaiser Health News)
- AbbVie’s blockbuster drug Humira finally loses its 20-year, $200 billion monopoly (NPR)
- Adult drug use rose during pandemic, but dropped dramatically in youth, study says (CNN)
STATE BY STATE
- Walz signs bill guaranteeing abortion access in Minnesota (MPR)
- Another Colorado hospital stops letting women get their tubes tied, renewing questions about reproductive rights (Colorado Sun)
- Kentuckians can now possess medical marijuana. Here’s how accessing it works (Lexington Herald-Leader)
OP-ED IN THE HILL
Why misleading COVID-19 hospitalization data shouldn’t influence local policy decisions
That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Health Care page for the latest news and coverage. See you tomorrow.
Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.