For the first time, Colorado caps a prescription drug price and Xcel misses emissions target


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    02_19_24MM Franziska Stangl

Colorado first state to cap prescription drug price  

Colorado’s Prescription Drug Affordability Board will consider capping the price of the prescription drug Enbrel.

The drug, which treats autoimmune diseases, can cost patients up to $46,000 a year, says The Denver Post, and was deemed unaffordable by the board on Friday. Members of the board will talk about setting a maximum price for Enbrel at next week’s meeting, which would be the first time any state did this with a prescription drug.  

The state’s All-Payer Claims Database found that at least 3,400 Coloradans used Enbrel in 2022 for common autoimmune diseases like arthritis or psoriasis. Another survey found that 20 out of 38 respondents had to cut back on other costs to afford the drug, and eight even said the cost pushed them into medical debt.

A spokesperson for Amgen, the company that makes the drug, told the Board that affordability isn’t a problem for a lot of patients. And in a letter to the Board, the company indicated that Enbrel may no longer be available in Colorado if the Board approves a price cap.

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Xcel Energy didn’t hit their 2022 emission target

An Xcel representative told Boulder City Council last week that the company had missed its 2022 emissions reduction target by 1.7 percent.

In 2020, the energy company promised to reduce emission levels by 80% from their 2005 levels in order to comply with the state’s clean energy legislation, according to The Daily Camera

They have a goal to hit separate Boulder emissions reduction benchmarks by 2030. 

Representatives announced during the meeting last week that they are not on track to meet either by 2024. 

They say that by 2027 and 2030, they should be back on track to achieve 100% renewable energy. 

Xcel representatives blamed the failure to hit emission reduction goals on higher-than-expected energy sales in 2022.

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Colorado bans use of gas-powered lawn equipment

State agencies will no longer be allowed to use certain gas-powered lawn equipment during the summer months.

That’s under a new rule approved by the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission.

The ban, which goes into effect in 2025, prohibits the use of equipment with engines of 25 horsepower or less during summer months. It applies to local government crew and contractors and prohibits the use of gas-powered push lawnmowers and equipment under ten horsepower on public property within the Denver Metro and North Front Range ozone nonattainment area.

According to a report cited by Fox31, gas-powered lawn equipment generated up to 671 tons of fine particle air pollution in 2020, equal to what is produced by seven million cars.

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Boulder Food Rebate Program

The application period for the City of Boulder’s Food Tax Rebate program begins on March 1st.

The program offers eligible community members rebates on city sales tax that they paid for food items.

Rebates are $104 for individuals and $318 for families, according to a city press release.

People who have lived in Boulder for all of 2023 may apply. Eligibility requirements include adults above the age of  62 years, adults with a disability, parents of school-aged children, and income caps. 

Boulder residents without permanent shelter are also eligible for the rebate. They’ll need to show documentation that they are already receiving services from a city-recognized homeless services agency.

More details can be found on the City of Boulder website.

CU Boulder students build instrument for NASA spacecraft

Students of The University of Colorado Boulder have finished building an instrument designed to help NASA study the sun, called STEAM. 

NASA will integrate STEAM on NASA’s 2025 PUNCH mission. 

According to The Denver Post, PUNCH is a small NASA explorer that will orbit Earth for 2 years, gathering data about solar orbits and solar wind.  

Nearly 40 CU Boulder students have worked on the STEAM instrument since 2019. Mary Hanson, who is an engineer at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, is now finishing the third and final wide-field imager for the PUNCH mission.

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More than 100 animals found new home in Denver Zoo

The Denver Zoo has rescued over 100 animals from the SeaQuest aquarium in Littleton. Seaquest closed earlier this month after an investigation into the company’s customer and animal welfare policies on February 4 of this year. 

After opening in a mall in 2018, Seaquest has been the subject of a number of investigations ranging from reports of a shark bite to a sting ray barb getting lodged in a guest’s hand, according to documents obtained by Denver7.

On Friday, an official from the zoo announced that the Denver Zoo took in nearly 130 animals, including a keel-billed toucan, an African pancake tortoise, and red-necked wallabies.  

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President’s Day closings

Today is President’s Day, and a number of city offices are closed in observance.

In Boulder, all city administration facilities and Age Well centers are closed.

There are no classes in Boulder Valley School District schools today and tomorrow, according to the BVSD website.

In Denver, public schools are also closed today, as are most city and county offices. That includes the mayor’s office and city council offices, Clerk and Recorder’s Office, and most city agencies.

All Boulder city parks and rec centers are open today, according to a city press release. Parking will be free all over Boulder today: there’s no charge to park in city garages and parking lots or at on-the-street pay stations.

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Franziska Stangl

Franziska Stangl


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