Fentanyl overdose deaths increased sharply, from 1,600 in 2012 to more than 18,000 in 2016. Data from the CDC, released yesterday, also show fentanyl is often present in overdose deaths that involve more than one drug. Forty percent of the cocaine overdoses, 37% of heroin overdoses, and 19% of oxycodone overdoses included the opioid. (Axios)

The Health and Human Services deputy secretary, Eric Hargan, said he sees potential in PhRMA’s plan for drug ads, in stark contrast to the opinion of the HHS chief, Alex Azar. PhRMA has proposed directing consumers to places such as a website for more information on a drug’s cost, vs. the HHS plan to require disclosing list prices in DTC ads. (STAT)

Apple has hired more than 40 doctors to work on various teams, a sign its health aspirations go beyond catering to the “worried well.” New joiners work on tasks like managing partnerships with device makers, devising strategies for handling criticism of its health tech, and developing software to gather patient medical information. (CNBC)

Kroger is launching a discount program for patients who use its pharmacy. Shoppers can pay $36 per individual or $72 per family for a membership to receive discounts on prescription drugs. By signing up for this membership, shoppers can potentially spend less on prescription drugs by paying out of pocket instead of using insurance. (STAT)

Today is the last official day to submit your entry for the inaugural MM&M Holiday Contest. Audience voting will begin tomorrow, with a winner announced before the holiday break. Tomorrow is also the scheduled nomination deadline for MM&M’s 2019 Hall of Femme program. (MM&M)