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Trump Vows (Again) To Lower Drug Prices But Skeptics Doubt Much Will Change

President Donald Trump, armed with the expertise of staff seasoned in the ways of the drug industry, unveiled his blueprint to address sky-high drug prices Friday afternoon, promising that increasing industry competition will help Americans save at the pharmacy counter. “Under this administration, we are putting American patients first,” Trump said  with Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar by his side. Azar, he said, had a mission to “to bring soaring drug prices down to Earth.” Many of the proposals Trump’s team can accomplish administratively — and some are already in motion — but for others, Trump said, he plans to work with Congress. The administration’s blueprint proposes 50 actions to reduce what Americans pay for drugs, including giving Medicare more power to negotiate drug prices, Azar said. Azar said he wants to make drug prices more transparent, as well. For example, he said the Food and Drug Administration should require pharmaceutical companies to disclose drugs’ list prices in their direct-to-consumer television ads. “It’s material and relevant to know if it’s a $50,000 drug or a $100 drug,” Azar said. Dr. Jeremy Greene, a professor and health policy expert at Johns Hopkins Medicine, said he was puzzled by how much control the agency would have over requiring drug prices as part of advertising. “The FDA has had nothing to do with price, especially in advertising,” Greene said....

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Best Reads Of The Week With Brianna Labuskes

The Friday Breeze Newsletter editor Brianna Labuskes, who reads everything on health care to compile our daily Morning Briefing, offers the best and most provocative stories for the weekend. So maybe “yesterday was not a good day” for you (as Novartis said after its $1.2 million contract with Michael Cohen made news) but today is Friday! And that means just a couple of hours left until the weekend. To help you get through that last little bit, here’s a cheat sheet of stories you might have missed this week in health care. President Donald Trump spoke from the White House about plans to curb drug prices, but pharma wasn’t exactly quaking at the proposed changes. Pharmacy benefit managers (cast by some health care players as the villains-du-jour for high costs), on the other hand, might want to be. Foreign governments’ “freeloading” is also expected to be a target (though experts say raising costs in Europe isn’t going to affect Americans’ pharmacy bills), while Trump is backing off the idea of letting Medicare negotiate drug prices. Reuters: Trump Plan for Drug Prices Seen Largely Sparing Industry The New York Times: Trump to Drop Call for Medicare to Negotiate Lower Drug Prices Enthusiasm for Medicaid work requirements is running headlong into concerns over Native Americans’ rights over at HHS. Top officials at the agency and Hill Republicans (who are excited —...

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South African tech and media conglomerate Naspers made $2.2 billion from Flipkart sale

Naspers, the South African tech and media conglomerate, continues to have an incredibly hot hand when it comes to global tech investment. Famous for owning a huge chunk of the Chinese Internet powerhouse, Tencent and a big chunk of Mail.ru, Naspers just made $2.2 billion off of the sale of Flipkart to Walmart.  The South African company had an 11.18% stake in Flipkart and the sale represents an IRR of 32%, the company said. Naspers originally backed Flipkart five years after the company’s launch in 2007 and had invested roughly $616 million into the company since that time. Naspers said that proceeds from the sale of Flipkart would be funneled back into the company’s balance sheet to fuel the growth of the company’s own classifieds, online food delivery, and fintech businesses globally. With Flipkart out of the portfolio, Naspers still holds a huge chunk of online tech real estate in India. The company has stakes in PayU, a payment and fintech company; OLX, a classifieds business; the online travel business MakeMyTrip, and Swiggy, a food delivery company.   Read More At Article Source | Article...

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Almost 150 Now Sickened By E. Coli-Tainted Lettuce

WEDNESDAY, May 9, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Twenty-eight more illnesses caused by an E. coli outbreak tied to tainted romaine lettuce were reported by U.S. health officials on Wednesday. So far, a total of 149 cases caused by a particularly virulent strain of E. coli O157:H7 have been reported. There has also been one death recorded, in California, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We have many lines of evidence suggesting to us right now that all of these illnesses are connected in some way through romaine grown in the Yuma region [of Arizona],” Matthew Wise, the CDC deputy branch chief for outbreak response, said recently. The CDC said four more states — Florida, Minnesota, North Dakota and Texas — have been hit by the outbreak, bringing the total number of affected states to 29. Illnesses have often been severe. Of the 129 patients the CDC has good information on, 64 (50 percent) have required hospitalization, the agency noted. “This is a higher hospitalization rate than usual for E. coli O157:H7 infections, which is usually around 30 percent,” the agency said. “Health officials are working to determine why this strain is causing a higher percentage of hospitalizations.” Besides the death recorded in California, 17 patients have developed a dangerous form of kidney failure, the agency said. The total number of cases by state are: Alaska,...

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Southeast Asia’s ShopBack moves into personal finance with its first acquisition

Singapore-based e-commerce startup ShopBack came on the radar when it raised $25 million last November, and now the company is making its first acquisition. ShopBack said today it has picked up Seedly, a fellow Singaporean startup that offers a personal finance service, in an undisclosed deal. The entire team will move over and Seedly will continue as a business under ShopBack’s management. The ShopBack service is an e-commerce aggregator that helps online sellers reach customers and incentivizes consumers with cash-back rewards. Seedly, meanwhile, is designed to simplify finance for millennials and young people across Southeast Asia. It was founded two years ago and raised seed funding from East Ventures (also a ShopBack investor) and NUS Enterprise in 2016, it also graduated Singapore bank DBS’s “hotspot” pre-accelerator program. The deal is a fairly rare example of a smaller startup in Southeast Asia being acquired by a larger one for more than just talent, and there seems to be plenty of potential synergies between the two services. ShopBack aspires to have close touchpoints with how young consumers in Southeast Asia spend their money online, so helping them to manage it plays into that focus. Meanwhile, Southeast Asia isn’t blessed with many local consumer finance services — despite more than 330 million internet users — so the Seedly business can benefit from ShopBack’s regional presence for expansion. The announcement of the deal comes 24 hours after ShopBack rival iPrice, which...

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