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What We’re Reading: Biden to Extend PHE Once More; High Court Rejects Pharma Suits; 988 Calls Soar


President Joe Biden expected to renew COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) one more time; Bristol Myers Squibb and Pfizer are denied by the Supreme Court; funding for the 988 mental health helpline expands inclusivity efforts.

Biden Plans to End COVID-19’s Public Health Emergency

The Biden administration will renew the COVID-19 public health emergency for the 11th time since being declared a national crisis, for another 90 days, according to Politico. That will give President Joe Biden and his team until the end of February to alert states and the health industry of plans to end the designation. Despite a recent surge in hospitalizations and deaths, the Biden administration sees little benefit in continuing the health emergency, as more people are accepting the virus as a part of their everyday lives.

Supreme Court Denies Bristol Myers Squibb and Pfizer Cases

Bristol Myers Squibb and Pfizer were rebuffed in the Supreme Court Monday in 2 separate cases, according to Fierce Pharma. Bristol Myers Squibb’s intellectual property case against Gilead Sciences was declined by the high court; it was one last effort to get the court to review the patent fight over Gilead’s chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy axicabtagene ciloleucel. The court also refused to hear the case 2 months ago. Similarly, the Supreme Court declined to take up Pfizer’s case against HHS, which had rejected the company’s prospective program to help Medicare patients pay out-of-pocket costs for tafamidis drugs Vyndaqel and Vyndamax. HHS said Pfizer’s plan to offer assistance to lower Medicare co-pays from $13,000 a year to $35 a month would violate a ban on support for federally reimbursed drugs.

Overwhelming Amount of 988 Mental Health, Suicide Calls Show No Signs of Slowing In 2023

The 988 mental health helpline has reached over 2 million calls, texts, and chat messages since being debuted in July, according to The Associated Press. With just under $1 billion in federal funds, expanded efforts are focusing on inclusivity centers, with specific efforts surrounding Spanish-speaking communities, LGBTQ youth, and American Indian/Alaska Native helplines. Despite the growing mental health crisis in the United States, fewer than 20 states have passed legislation to permanently fund their 988 line, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health Illness.

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