Overnight Health Care: Drug industry nervous about Grassley | CDC warns public not to eat romaine lettuce | Sanders unveils new drug pricing bill

Welcome to Tuesday's Overnight Health Care.

A programming note... the Overnight crew will be off the rest of this week for Thanksgiving! But we'll be back with the newsletter on Monday.

Today... The drug industry might have reason to be concerned about Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Health Care: Senators seek CBO input on preventing surprise medical bills | Oversight panel seeks OxyContin documents | Pharmacy middlemen to testify on prices | Watchdog warns air ambulances can put patients at 'financial risk' Drug prices are a matter of life and death Senate panel to hear from pharmacy middlemen on drug prices MORE (R-Iowa) taking back the Senate Finance Committee gavel... romaine lettuce is dangerous again... and an anti-abortion group is buying ads for Mississippi's suddenly competitive Senate race.

We'll start in the Senate...

 

Drug industry nervous about Grassley's new role

The drug industry is gearing up for a new threat in January when Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) takes over as head of the Senate Finance Committee.

Drugmakers will soon lose a reliable ally in Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchNY's political prosecution of Manafort should scare us all Congress must break its addiction to unjust tax extenders The FDA crackdown on dietary supplements is inadequate MORE (R-Utah), the retiring committee chairman who has been viewed by industry lobbyists and drug pricing advocates alike as a major roadblock to reform efforts pushed by Democrats and even the Trump administration.

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So why are they worried? Grassley is a strong proponent of price transparency. He's also a longtime supporter of importing drugs from Canada, a position that isn't shared by many of his GOP colleagues.

His penchant for bipartisanship, combined with a Democratic House looking to take action against the industry for price hikes over the years, means drug companies could be in for a serious fight next year.

An industry lobbyist shares this insight: "We fully expect to be investigated and are under no illusions that Finance won't take part in it," the lobbyist said. "There are members of [the Finance Committee] that are a little more sympathetic, but he's the chairman and he will do what he wants to do."

Read more here.

 

Don't eat romaine lettuce!

The CDC is warning people across the United States not to eat romaine lettuce amid a new E. coli outbreak.

So you now have an excuse not to eat salad for lunch.

The CDC said the broad warning is in place until it can gather more information.

According to the agency, 32 people in 11 states have been infected with E. coli so far. Thirteen people have been hospitalized, including one person who developed a type of kidney failure, but there have been no reported deaths.

The CDC is telling people to throw away any romaine lettuce that they already have in their homes.

Read more here.  

 

New drug pricing bill from Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersDemocratic Socialists of America endorses Sanders for president Trump on 2020 Dems skipping AIPAC: 'I think they're anti-Jewish' The Hill's Morning Report — Washington readies for Mueller end game MORE

Drug pricing is a hot topic, especially with Democrats taking back the House, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) had his latest proposal on Tuesday.

What's it do? The legislation would strip a company's monopoly for a drug, regardless of any patents, and allow other companies to create cheaper generic versions if the price for that drug is higher than the median price in Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Japan.

Political reality: The bill does not have a clear path forward in the next two years, given that Republicans will still control the Senate.

Why it's important: The measure, though, shows how far progressives want to go on drug pricing and comes at a time when there is growing momentum for taking some action on the issue, even if it might not be as far-reaching.  

Read more here.

 

Anti-abortion group launches digital ads to support Hyde-Smith

Anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List is jumping into the Mississippi Senate race with a five-figure digital ad campaign targeting Democrat Mike Espy.

Espy is facing a runoff election against incumbent freshman Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith on Nov. 27.

Women Speak Out PAC, which is a partner of the group, is releasing the ads targeting inconsistent pro-life voters. The ads attack Espy for being "too extreme" for Mississippi because of his support for abortion.

Hyde-Smith is favored in the race, but the last-second participation of such a prominent anti-abortion group underscores the competitiveness of it.

Why the race is in the news: Hyde-Smith has been under fire in recent days for saying she would be in the front row of a "public hanging" if invited. She has repeatedly refused to answer questions about the comments, instead pointing to a statement where she clarified her comments were made in jest.

Read more here.

 

The Hill event

Join The Hill on Wednesday, November 28 for "Preparing for a Treatment: Alzheimer's Diagnosis and Care" featuring Sens. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyTrump: Green New Deal 'the most preposterous thing' and 'easy to beat' The Hill's Morning Report — Washington readies for Mueller end game Dem divisions deepen over approach to climate change MORE (D-Mass.) and Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisOvernight Health Care: CDC pushes for expanding HIV testing, treatment | Dem group launches ads attacking Trump on Medicare, Medicaid cuts | Hospitals, insurers spar over surprise bills | O'Rourke under pressure from left on Medicare for all Dem group launches ads attacking Trump's 'hypocrisy on Medicare and Medicaid cuts' Trump keeps tight grip on GOP MORE (R-N.C.). Editor in Chief Bob Cusack will sit down with the headliners to discuss how we prepare for the possibility of a groundbreaking advancement in the treatment of Alzheimer's. RSVP here.

 

What we're reading

Trump's health plans can be extended to 3 years. Will some abandon ObamaCare? (Kaiser Health News)

Pharmacists have been called on to make naloxone widely available. But do they know how to use it? (Stat)

The Bernie Sanders-Trump mind meld on drug costs (Politico)

 

State by state

Medicaid expansion: Three deep-red states just did it. Why not Tennessee? (Tennessean)

With new work requirement, thousands lose Medicaid coverage in Arkansas (PBS Newshour)

Virginia's Medicaid expansion drawing thousands more enrollees than initially projected (NBC 12)