Drug pricing is complicated and secretive. WSJ explains how the flow of money, drugs and rebates behind the scenes may drive up the price of prescription medicine for consumers. Illustration: Mallory Brangan
While some Democrats have pressed for Trump’s impeachment, what would be certain is that Democratic committee chairs would swamp Trump and his deputies with subpoenas, document requests and public hearings that would bog down his administration and distract from his agenda ahead of the 2020 elections.
Already, congressional Democrats have amassed dozens of oversight requests targeting the White House, various Cabinet departments and private entities with business ties to Trump and his family.
.. Some outside Trump advisers have mused in recent days that losing the House would be a political disaster but saw a silver lining in the possibility that Democrats would veer left next year and be a foil for Trump
.. “There is a never-ending stream of outrage,” said Scott Jennings, a Republican political consultant who served in the final three years of the Bush White House. “The only difference is, now all of their outrage is directed at Twitter. But when you give somebody a gavel, they can actually hurt you.”
.. Their mission would be to stop the EPA or any other regulatory agency from just functioning, basically, until they can regain power.”
.. it was difficult not to contemplate the possibilities that would come with not only subpoena power, but also a much larger staff and investigative budget.
.. Since Trump took office, Oversight Committee Republicans have blocked more than 50 Democratic subpoena requests ranging from
- documents pertaining to the administration’s health-care policies to
- information on the government’s use of chartered airplanes to
- a demand for testimony from former Trump strategist Stephen K. Bannon.
.. would also scrutinize policy issues such as
- prescription drug prices,
- postal reform and
- preparations for the 2020 Census.
.. Unlike the partisan congressional probes into Bush and Obama, which focused mainly on alleged missteps by subordinates, Democrats are primed to put the president himself in the investigative crosshairs
.. For one, Democrats would be able to inspect Trump’s federal income tax returns for the first time — a trove that they have long demanded but Republicans have shown no interest in obtaining. Under federal law, any tax return can be examined by the chairman of any of the three congressional tax committees.
.. Other information regarding Trump’s personal finances and business dealings could also be subject to Democrats’ prying eyes. They could include rosters of hotel clients and members of Trump golf and social clubs, as well as details of real estate deals that his companies have participated in.
.. requests for information on the response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico last year, as well as Trump’s controversial border policies.
Four Democratic senators on Thursday requested a Pentagon investigation into whether the White House improperly offered tours of Air Force One to members of Trump’s private Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida.
Martin Shkreli is in prison, but Daraprim still costs $750 per pill. Heather Bresch was hauled before Congress, but EpiPens still cost three to six times more than they did in 2007.
.. This phenomenon, what economists call “sticky pricing,” is common in pharmaceuticals. It has raised the price of drugs for serious conditions including multiple sclerosis and diabetes, even when there are multiple competing drugs.
The problem is that companies have decided it is not in their interest to compete.
.. There’s cover in numbers.
When you’re driving on the highway where a speed limits is 55 and most everyone’s going 70, you’re likely to increase your speed, too. Why should you feel bad? Why would the cop pick you? Someone else in a flashy car is probably doing 90. (For drug makers, Mr. Shkreli would be the hot-dogger who gives others cover.)
.. The parties are not really colluding. They’re not calling one another up to agree to drive too fast; no manufacturer (one hopes) is sitting at a country club agreeing to keep his prices high. This makes drug makers difficult to prosecute under racketeering or restraint of trade laws.
.. But while drug prices in America are going up, many of the same drugs are cheaper — and often coming down in price — in other developed countries, where governments step in to regulate prices.
.. Now you know why Novartis might have paid $1.2 million to Michael Cohen, the president’s personal lawyer and “fixer,” after hearing the candidate’s threats.
.. Britain’s National Health Service sets a price it is willing to pay pharmacists for medicines they dispense. The pharmacists, who are in business for themselves, can then source the medicine from any wholesaler. The cheaper they can procure the medicine, the more they profit.
Just this week we had a top aide with multiple domestic abuse allegations, plus a chief of staff who never seemed to bother to pursue the matter. And a communications director — third one in a little over a year — who helped write the statement defending said aide, whom she happened to also be dating.
.. Tenure is irrelevant. Kirstjen Nielsen has only been secretary of homeland security for a couple of months, but we already know her as the woman who tried to support her boss by claiming she wasn’t sure whether Norway was a predominately white country.
.. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar .. Azar’s mission is supposed to be bringing down prescription prices, and his main qualification is having run the American division of a drug company during the five years when the price of its insulin rose from $122 to $274 a vial.
.. Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency
.. “Do we really know what the ideal surface temperature should be in the year 2100? … That’s fairly arrogant for us to think that we know exactly what it should be in 2100.”
.. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is busy pushing the federal death penalty and trying to prosecute the marijuana industry in states where grass is legal.
.. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is trying to dismember the World Trade Organization. Smaller minds are fascinated by reports that Lighthizer has a life-size portrait of himself hanging on the wall at home.
.. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross is in charge of the upcoming census, which is underfunded, and rumors are that the chief candidate for deputy director is a highly partisan Texas professor whose book on reapportionment is subtitled “Why Competitive Elections Are Bad for America.”
..Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin .. The new Trump nominee to lead the I.R.S. is a tax lawyer who specializes in defending wealthy clients against — yes! — the I.R.S. To cheer things up, we can go back to recalling the time Mnuchin posed with his wife, dressed in black opera gloves and a come-hither hairdo, admiring his signature on bills at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke is well known for his enthusiasm for fossil fuel drilling. But even some of his fans were a little perplexed when he announced a policy for expanding offshore oil and gas drilling, and then abruptly added that there would be an exception for … Florida. Think it was all about Mar-a-Lago?
.. taxpayers paid $6,000 to helicopter Zinke to a critical appointment going horseback riding with Mike Pence.