Overnight Health Care — Presented by Purdue Pharma — Trump takes most aggressive step yet on drug prices | Altria to stop selling some e-cig flavors amid crackdown | Trump fights uphill battle on pre-existing conditions

Overnight Health Care — Presented by Purdue Pharma — Trump takes most aggressive step yet on drug prices | Altria to stop selling some e-cig flavors amid crackdown | Trump fights uphill battle on pre-existing conditions
© Stefani Reynolds

Welcome to Thursday's edition of Overnight Health Care.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpPapadopoulos on AG's new powers: 'Trump is now on the offense' Pelosi uses Trump to her advantage Mike Pence delivers West Point commencement address MORE made a bold announcement on Medicare drug pricing, and while the drug industry is not thrilled, the actual impact isn't certain yet. 

Meanwhile, tobacco company Altria said it will stop selling e-cigarette products and flavors that can appeal to teens. And on the midterm front, Trump is fighting an uphill battle on the GOP's position on pre-existing conditions.

We'll begin with Trump's big announcement:


Trump takes his most aggressive step yet to target drug prices

President Trump took his biggest step yet on drug prices on Thursday. Democrats said it wasn't enough, PhRMA said it was way too much, and others were somewhat intrigued.

What's the proposal? The proposed regulation would set up an "international pricing index" that would be used as a reference to set prices for drugs paid for through Medicare Part B, the section of Medicare that covers drugs administered in a doctor's office. HHS Secretary Alex Azar said eventually the new proposal would pay 126 percent of the international index price.



Dems pivot back to pre-existing conditions

"The GOP's lack of effective strategy to bring down prescription prices goes hand in hand with the party's relentless efforts to eliminate pre-existing condition protections and slash funding for Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security," said Rep. Richard NealRichard Edmund NealRepublicans attempt to amend retirement savings bill to include anti-BDS language House votes to boost retirement savings Steyer plans impeachment push targeting Democrats over recess MORE (D-Mass.) the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee.

PhRMA very negative

"The administration is imposing foreign price controls from countries with socialized health care systems that deny their citizens access and discourage innovation. These proposals are to the detriment of American patients," said PhRMA CEO Steve Ubl.

Liberal group Families USA praises Trump for a change

"I hope this is a serious policy that will be formally proposed and finalized by the Trump administration. If so, it is an important step forward for our nation's seniors and taxpayers.   

A question mark: Will some congressional Republicans come out against the proposal? Or at least privately express concerns? Trump's proposal is outside the realm of traditional Republican drug pricing policy.




Purdue Pharma encourages you to safely dispose of unused Rx medications on the DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day this Saturday, October 27. It is our hope that through the proper disposal of prescription drugs we can all help saves lives. Learn more.


Trump fights uphill GOP battle on pre-existing conditions

As the midterms near, Republicans are trying to fend off potent Democratic attacks over pre-existing conditions, and President Trump is leading the charge.

Trump's first year in office was focused on repealing ObamaCare, and his administration has supported a lawsuit that would overturn the health-care law's protections for people with pre-existing conditions, preventing them from being denied coverage or charged more.

Yet on Wednesday, Trump was insisting it was the GOP that would protect pre-existing conditions, and Democrats who would not.

"Republicans will totally protect people with Pre-Existing Conditions, Democrats will not! Vote Republican," Trump tweeted Wednesday.

The calculation: "Poll after poll shows that voters tend to trust a candidate with a 'D' next to their name rather than a candidate with an 'R' next to their name when it comes to the issue," said Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist.

"They're trying to get out in front of this to make sure that Democrats don't effectively land it."

Read more here.


Altria to stop selling most flavors amid FDA crackdown

Tobacco giant Altria will stop selling e-cigarette "pods" and will pull almost all its flavored products from the market in an attempt to help curb teen vaping, it announced Thursday.

The company, which manufactures Marlboro and Virginia Slim cigarettes, also said it supports federal legislation to raise the legal smoking age to 21.

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has said the surge in teen vaping is an "epidemic" and has been putting pressure on e-cigarette makers as a result.

Altria's CEO Howard Williard III took great pains to say that while he supports stopping kids from using tobacco products, and will help by pulling certain products and almost all its flavors, he doesn't think Altria is contributing to the problem.

Not completely altruistic: Altria doesn't sell a lot of e-cigarettes. So the decision to take certain products and flavors off the market seems like it's a business decision as much as anything else. It could also put pressure on competitors like Juul, which sells e-cigarettes exclusively and dominates the market.

Read more on the decision here.


What we're reading

2018 is the year Democrats got comfortable talking health care again (NPR)

Cancer hospital ads deceive patients about their chances of survival, new report finds (Buzzfeed News)

At a dangerous point in the Ebola outbreak, residents increase cooperation with containment efforts (Stat)

"Unprecedented": inside the Trump administration's historically weak Ebola response (Vox)


State by state

More U.S. women dying from childbirth. How one state bucks the trend (Stateline)

States explore paths to pay their share for Medicaid expansion -- using political GPS (Kaiser Health News)

Finding hope: advocates say state lacking mental health resources (Concord Monitor)


From The Hill's opinion page

A Dem-controlled House could work with Trump to lower drug prices