From The Associated Press

Vaccines and Masks: Biden Plan Aims to Break Pandemic Cycle

January 14, 2021

The coronavirus action plan President Joe Biden is unveiling Thursday aims to bring new urgency to the nation’s vaccination campaign coupled with another round of economic relief for hunkered-down Americans.

The Biden plan comes as a divided nation remains caught in the grip of the pandemic’s most dangerous wave yet. So far, more than 385,000 have died in the U.S. And government numbers out Thursday reported a jump in weekly unemployment claims, to 965,000, a sign that rising infections are forcing businesses to cut back and lay off workers.

The coronavirus action plan President Joe Biden is unveiling Thursday aims to bring new urgency to the nation’s vaccination campaign coupled with another round of economic relief for hunkered-down Americans.

The Biden plan comes as a divided nation remains caught in the grip of the pandemic’s most dangerous wave yet. So far, more than 385,000 have died in the U.S. And government numbers out Thursday reported a jump in weekly unemployment claims, to 965,000, a sign that rising infections are forcing businesses to cut back and lay off workers.

Biden hopes his multipronged strategy, to be detailed in a Thursday evening speech, will put the country on the path to recovery by the end of his first 100 days. “It’s going to be hard,” Biden said Monday after he got his second vaccine shot. “It’s not going to be easy. But we can get it done….”

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Walgreens to Sell Drug Wholesale Business for $6.5B

January 6, 2021

Walgreens Boots Alliance will sell its pharmaceutical wholesale business to AmerisourceBergen in a $6.5 billion cash and stock deal.

Pharmaceutical wholesalers essentially act as middlemen, purchasing drugs from manufacturers and then distributing them to customers like drugstore chains, hospitals and doctor’s offices.

Walgreens said Wednesday that the deal will allow it to focus more on expanding its core retail pharmacy business which, like others, has been rattled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Walgreens Boots Alliance will sell its pharmaceutical wholesale business to AmerisourceBergen in a $6.5 billion cash and stock deal.

Pharmaceutical wholesalers essentially act as middlemen, purchasing drugs from manufacturers and then distributing them to customers like drugstore chains, hospitals and doctor’s offices.

Walgreens said Wednesday that the deal will allow it to focus more on expanding its core retail pharmacy business which, like others, has been rattled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Drugstore chains and other retailers were hit hard, particularly last spring, when the pandemic forced shoppers to stay home and away from their stores….

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U.S. Angling to Secure More of Pfizer’s Coronavirus Vaccine

December 17, 2020

U.S. officials say they’re actively negotiating for additional purchases of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine after passing up a chance to lock in a contract this summer since it was still unclear how well the shots would work.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and special adviser Dr. Moncef Slaoui also told reporters Wednesday that Pfizer had been unable to commit to a firm delivery date. Azar called that “the core issue.”

U.S. officials say they’re actively negotiating for additional purchases of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine after passing up a chance to lock in a contract this summer since it was still unclear how well the shots would work.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and special adviser Dr. Moncef Slaoui also told reporters Wednesday that Pfizer had been unable to commit to a firm delivery date. Azar called that “the core issue.”

There was no immediate comment from the company, whose CEO Albert Bourla told CNN this week it is “working very collaboratively” with the government to deliver additional vaccine through the federal Operation Warp Speed. That’s a White House-backed, taxpayer-funded effort to quickly develop coronavirus vaccines and treatments….

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Trump Tries to Revive Stalled Election-Eve Drug Discounts

December 9, 2020

The Trump administration is trying to revive the president’s stalled election-eve plan to send millions of Medicare recipients a $200 prescription discount card.

A person familiar with the effort tells The Associated Press that government agencies still face legal questions about the plan. That’s on top of the daunting logistics of sending an estimated 39 million people a functional card in the midst of the holiday season without the benefit of much advance planning. The person was not authorized to publicly discuss internal deliberations and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Trump administration is trying to revive the president’s stalled election-eve plan to send millions of Medicare recipients a $200 prescription discount card.

A person familiar with the effort tells The Associated Press that government agencies still face legal questions about the plan. That’s on top of the daunting logistics of sending an estimated 39 million people a functional card in the midst of the holiday season without the benefit of much advance planning. The person was not authorized to publicly discuss internal deliberations and spoke on condition of anonymity.

White House spokesman Judd Deere confirmed the administration is continuing to move forward. “It’s simply good policy, and demonstrates President Trump is continuing to deliver on his promises to our nation’s seniors to lower drug prices….”

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Next for Biden: Naming a Health Care Team as Pandemic Rages

December 3, 2020

Up soon for President-elect Joe Biden: naming his top health care officials as the coronavirus pandemic rages. It’s hard to imagine more consequential picks.

Already one prominent candidate to lead the Department of Health and Human Services has faded from the scene. New Mexico Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham was offered another Cabinet post — interior secretary — and turned it down, a person close to the Biden transition said Wednesday. That person spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. Lujan Grisham’s office had no comment.

Up soon for President-elect Joe Biden: naming his top health care officials as the coronavirus pandemic rages. It’s hard to imagine more consequential picks.

Already one prominent candidate to lead the Department of Health and Human Services has faded from the scene. New Mexico Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham was offered another Cabinet post — interior secretary — and turned it down, a person close to the Biden transition said Wednesday. That person spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. Lujan Grisham’s office had no comment.

Biden is expected to announce his choice for HHS secretary next week. That person has to have “the confidence of the president, the ability to operate collaboratively across the government, credibility within the health care world, and the capacity to work with the states,” said former HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt, who served under Republican President George W. Bush….

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