Overnight Health Care: Trump announces two moves aimed at lowering drug prices | Sturgis rally blamed for COVID-19 spread in Minnesota | Stanford faculty condemn Scott Atlas

Overnight Health Care: Trump announces two moves aimed at lowering drug prices | Sturgis rally blamed for COVID-19 spread in Minnesota | Stanford faculty condemn Scott Atlas
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Welcome to Friday’s Overnight Health Care. President TrumpDonald TrumpHillicon Valley — State Dept. employees targets of spyware Ohio Republican Party meeting ends abruptly over anti-DeWine protesters Jan. 6 panel faces new test as first witness pleads the Fifth MORE is trying to usher through some of his health care agenda on his way out the door, angering drug companies. Another U.S. senator tested positive for coronavirus, and a WHO panel advises against using Remdesivir on hospitalized COVID-19 patients. 

Let’s start with the news on drug pricing: 

Trump announces two moves aimed at lowering drug prices 

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It was a busy day on the drug pricing front, and President Trump made a rare, post-election appearance in the White House briefing room (though he did not take questions).

The two new moves:

  • To lower drug prices in Medicare Part B to match the lower prices paid in other wealthy countries, a proposal known as “most favored nation.”
  • Eliminate the rebates that drugmakers pay to “middlemen” known as pharmacy benefit managers, in a bid to simplify the drug pricing system and pass the discounts on to consumers instead.

There’s a lot of uncertainty ahead, though. The president acknowledged that drug companies fiercely opposed his "most favored nation" move, noting ads they have run against it. “The drug companies don’t like me too much,” he said.

The future of Trump’s proposals could depend on whether the Biden administration decides to keep them, which Trump seemed to acknowledge even though he has not conceded the election.

“I hope they have the courage to keep it,” Trump said.

Industry groups are also likely to launch legal challenges to the moves, adding another dose of uncertainty.

Democrats' reaction: Two top House Democrats – Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (N.J.) and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealGOP fears boomerang as threat of government shutdown grows House passes giant social policy and climate measure The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - House to vote on Biden social spending bill after McCarthy delay MORE (Mass.) – called the moves “half-baked proposals that will likely be struck down in court."

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Sturgis rally blamed for COVID-19 spread in Minnesota

A South Dakota motorcycle rally attended by nearly half a million people earlier this year resulted in at least 86 cases of COVID-19 among residents of Minnesota, including one death, according to a report released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report, which looked to find the impact of the rally on a neighboring state, found that of the 86 identified cases among Minnesotans, 35 had not gone to the event but were contacts of people who did. 

About one-third of Minnesota counties had a case associated with Sturgis rally, which took place over a 10-day period in August with no social distancing or mask requirements.

The findings show the importance of wearing masks and following social distancing rules and other recommendations from public health officials in stopping the spread of COVID-19, the authors of the report wrote. 

“These findings highlight the far-reaching effects that gatherings in one area might have on another area,” the authors wrote. 

Read more here.

Stanford faculty condemn Scott Atlas for 'view of COVID-19 that contradicts medical science'

Stanford University faculty on Thursday condemned the recent actions of Scott Atlas, a senior fellow at the school's Hoover Institution who has been advising President Trump on coronavirus issues.

A resolution introduced in the Faculty Senate passed with 85 percent of the vote. The resolution specified six actions that Atlas has taken that “promote a view of COVID-19 that contradicts medical science."

"We call on university leadership to forcefully disavow Atlas’s actions as objectionable on the basis of the university’s core values and at odds with our own policies and guidelines concerning COVID-19 and campus life," the resolution said.

Actions cited by the faculty include: misrepresenting knowledge and opinion regarding the management of pandemics, discouraging the use of masks and other protective measures, endangering citizens and public officials, and showing disdain for established medical knowledge.

The Stanford resolution also specifically singled out a tweet from Atlas that called on the people of Michigan to "rise up" against Gov. Gretchen WhitmerGretchen WhitmerMichigan prosecutor calls state gun laws 'woefully inadequate' 65M women could lose abortion rights in Supreme Court case Judge orders pro-Trump election lawyers to pay 5,000 in sanctions MORE's (D) new public health measures. 

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Rick Scott tests positive for coronavirus

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) said on Friday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus, roughly a week after he started self-quarantining.

Scott, in a statement, said that after getting multiple negative results, a test that he took on Tuesday came back positive on Friday morning.

“After several negative tests, I learned I was positive this morning. I am feeling good and experiencing very mild symptoms. I will be working from home in Naples until it is safe for me to return to Washington, D.C.," Scott said in a statement.

Scott is the latest to test positive amid a new outbreak of cases among lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyGOP blocks bill to expand gun background checks after Michigan school shooting GOP ramps up attacks on SALT deduction provision Graham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks MORE (R-Iowa), who is 87, also announced this week that he had tested positive but has said as recently as Thursday that he is symptom free. 

Read more here.

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WHO panel recommends against use of remdesivir for COVID-19 patients

A World Health Organization (WHO) panel recommended against using remdesivir in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 because there is no evidence it improves survival.

The recommendation breaks with the Trump administration, as remdesivir recently became the only drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

The WHO panel also found the drug, which is delivered intravenously, had no real impact on whether patients would need to be put on ventilators.

The recommendation from the WHO Guideline Development Group was published late Thursday night in the international journal The BMJ.

The recommendation was based on data from four international randomized trials involving more than 7,000 patients hospitalized for COVID-19.

Read more here.

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What we’re reading: 

America’s best prepared hospital is nearly overwhelmed (The Atlantic)

What 635 epidemiologists are doing for Thanksgiving (The New York Times)

Data heroes of COVID Tracking Project are still filling US government void (Bloomberg

State by state: 

Ohio’s faulty Medicaid eligibility system costing taxpayers hundreds of millions (The Columbus Dispatch)

Medicaid enrollment could reach 4.6 million Floridians (Sun Sentinel)  

COVID-19 vaccines may be coming soon, but most Texans won’t get them for months. Here’s why. (Texas Tribune