What We're Reading: Healthcare at Center of Democrats' Debate; Opioid Settlement Talks; Alexion Buying Achillion

October 16, 2019

The 12 Democratic candidates for president spent a good deal of time at their debate Tuesday night discussing healthcare; a group of state attorneys general tried to convince a US District Court judge to give them more time to create a settlement in their opioid lawsuits but failed; Alexion Pharmaceuticals agreed to buy small biotech Achillion Pharmaceuticals in a deal initially valued at $930 million.

Democratic Candidates Spar Over Healthcare Issues at Debate

The 12 Democratic candidates for president spent a good deal of time at their debate Tuesday night discussing healthcare, including "Medicare for All," taxes, abortion and reproductive rights, gun violence, and whether to jail pharmaceutical executives for their role in the opioid crisis, Kaiser Health News reported. Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, questioned how Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts would pay for Medicare for All, comparing her with Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who has said taxes would rise. It was Sanders' first debate appearance since his heart attack and surgery 2 weeks ago.

States Fail to Get More Time to Create Opioid Settlement as Jury Selection Starts

A group of state attorneys general tried to convince a US District Court judge to give them more time to create a settlement in their opioid lawsuits but failed, The Washington Post reported. The states are trying to reach an $18 billion settlement with the country’s 3 largest drug distributors, McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen. Jury selection is set to begin Wednesday in a consolidated federal case involving more than 2500 lawsuits filed by cities, counties, and Native American tribes.

Alexion Buying Biotech Achillon for $930 Million to Retain Rare Blood Disorder Dominance

Alexion Pharmaceuticals agreed to buy small biotech Achillion Pharmaceuticals in a deal initially valued at $930 million, Reuters reported; the move that will help Alexion retain its dominance in treating rare blood disorders. Alexion sells Soliris, which treats genetic disorders paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) and atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome. In 2018, Alexion won FDA approval for a successor to Soliris called Ultomiris. Achillion's PNH treatment danicopan is currently in mid-stage testing, while its other PNH drug, ACH-5228, is set to begin a mid-stage trial in the first half of 2020.