Big Pharma Wins; Kim Darroch Resigns

Grind for July 13th
“Biologically speaking, if something bites you it’s more likely to be female.”
– Desmond Morris


The Headline

Federal judge blocks Trump Administration policy requiring drug makers to include prices in TV ads

The Grind

A federal judge on Monday blocked a controversial policy that would have forced drug makers to display the list price of their drugs in TV ads.

Pharmaceutical companies said the policy would violate their free speech rights and insisted that most Americans do not pay the full price for prescription drugs.

The lawsuit, filed last month by drug makers Eli Lilly, Merck, and Amgen, blocked the policy just hours before it was scheduled to take effect.

The Details

In his ruling, US District Judge Amit Mehta said the Department of Health and Human Services did not have the authority to impose restrictions on drug manufacturers.

“That policy very well could be an effective tool in halting the rising cost of prescription drugs,” wrote Mehta. “But no matter how vexing the problem of spiraling drugs costs may be, HHS cannot do more than what Congress has authorized.”

The failed policy is part of a broader effort by the Trump Administration to pressure drug makers into lowering their prices. The policy had broad support from both parties, but some worried the rule did not offer a sufficient enforcement mechanism.

Others remained skeptical that Big Pharma would lower prices even if forced to display sticker prices on television.

“Today’s ruling is a step backward in the battle against skyrocketing drug prices and providing more information to consumers,” said AARP. “Americans should be trusted to evaluate drug price information and discuss any concerns with their health care providers.”


The Headline

Britain’s top diplomat resigns over leaked documents

The Grind

British Ambassador Kim Darroch resigned Wednesday after internal documents showing his criticism of President Trump were leaked to the media.

In diplomatic cables intended for a private audience, Darroch described President Trump as “inept,” “insecure,” and “incompetent.” He described conflicts within the White House as “knife fights.”

“We don’t really believe this administration is going to become substantially more normal; less dysfunctional; less unpredictable; less faction-riven; less diplomatically clumsy and inept,” wrote Darroch.

The Details

President Trump responded to the insult in predictable Trumpian fashion, bashing Darroch as a “stupid guy” and a “pompous fool.” Trump said he would “no longer deal” with Darroch and lashed out at Prime Minister Theresa May for handling Brexit in a “foolish way.”

The British government largely defended Darroch, noting that diplomats are encouraged to be frank when submitting private assessments. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who is vying with Boris Johnson to replace May, described Trump’s comments as “disrespectful” and said he would not fire Darroch.

Since Darroch’s resignation comes while May is still in office, she will have the chance to nominate a replacement before she steps down at the end of the month.

The Takeaway

It’s true that ambassadors are supposed to give honest assessments of the people they are working with, and more often than not these assessments are not flattering. But the point here is that top secret documents were leaked and that they were insulting to the leader of a country.

This is tantamount to a public declaration of insult from one country to another, and Britain should have responded by apologizing to President Trump and pushing Darroch out. Instead, they defended the ambassador and criticized Trump.

To Trump’s credit, he refrained from declaring Darroch persona non grata and waited for him to resign.

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