Good morning, everyone, and welcome to another working week. We hope the weekend respite was relaxing and invigorating, because that oh-so predictable routine of online meetings, calls, and deadlines has returned. But you knew this would happen, yes? Even at this sluggish time of year — when short people are sleeping in and official mascots are lazing about — the world continues to spin. So time to give it a nudge in a useful direction with a cup of stimulation. Our choice today is salted caramel mocha, a veritable taste of the Jersey shore. Feel free to join us. Or grab a bottle of water if you prefer. Meanwhile, here are some tidbits to get you going. Have a delightful day, and do keep in touch. …
The U.K. became the first country to approve the Moderna vaccine targeting the Omicron variant of Covid-19 as a booster shot, ahead of a planned fall vaccination campaign to shore up immune defenses against the virus, The Wall Street Journal notes. The so-called bivalent vaccine is directed against both the original strain of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, and the first Omicron variant, also known as BA.1, which drove large waves of infection over the winter. The approval was based on clinical trial data showing that a booster with the bivalent Moderna vaccine triggered a strong immune response against both Omicron BA.1 and the original strain.
On Friday, the U.S. House passed a major health care, tax, and climate package by a vote of 220 to 207, STAT notes. The legislation would allow Medicare to negotiate prices for a subset of costly drugs starting in 2026; penalize drugmakers that hike prices faster than inflation for Medicare patients starting in October for some drugs and January for others; cap out-of-pocket pharmacy drug costs for Medicare patients at $2,000 per year starting in 2025; and cap out-of-pocket costs for insulin at $35 per year for Medicare beneficiaries starting in 2023. The reform is a stunning defeat for the pharmaceutical industry, which has invested a staggering amount of money to get its way in Washington.
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