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What We’re Reading: CVS Near Oak Street Health Acquisition; Cystic Fibrosis Drug Inaccessible in Poor Countries; NYC Vaccine Mandate to End

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CVS Health Corp. is nearing a $10.5 billion deal to take on Oak Street Health Inc.; an innovative cystic fibrosis drug that can lengthen life expectancy for patients is blocked by high costs and unavailability in low-income countries; New York City will end the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers.

CVS Close to Deal for Oak Street Health Inc for $10.5 billion

CVS Health Corp. is nearly at the point of procurement for Oak Street Health Inc., reported the Wall Street Journal. The acquisition would significantly broaden CVS’s network of primary care doctors and senior-focused clinics. Current negotiations are about $39 per share and announcements about the deal’s finalization could occur as early as this week . If the deal is finalized, it would follow CVS’s acquisition of Signify Health Inc. and its growing involvement of directly providing health care.

Groundbreaking Cystic Fibrosis Drug Unavailable in Developing Countries

A breakthrough therapy for cystic fibrosis is lengthening life expectancy, but Vertex Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Trikafta, does not make the drug available to developing countries and prohibits local companies from making it, reported The New York Times. Vertex is going so far as to prevent generic competitors from manufacturing the drug by looking for patents in multiple countries. The drug costs more than $322,000 per year in the United States, even though analysis from British researchers estimate that it could be made for as little as $5700 per year. A spokesperson from Vertex said it is working on a drug donation program for low-income countries.

NYC to Lift COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate for City Workers

Formerly one of the most stringent cities for COVID-19 vaccination mandates, New York City will now permit municipal employees—including police officers, firefighters, and teachers—to be without COVID-19 vaccinations, reported the Associated Press. The mandate will end on Friday, following the firing of hundreds of municipal workers since the COVID-19 pandemic when the mandate was in place. According to Mayor Eric Adams, 96% of the city employees and over 80% of NYC residents have the first set of vaccinations.

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