- Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar isn’t counting on pharmaceutical companies to do the right thing when it comes to drug prices.
- “I’m not counting on their altruism or their cooperation,” Azar said at the Financial Times’ Pharma Pricing Summit on Thursday.
Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar isn’t banking on the pharmaceutical industry to fix the rising cost of prescription drugs in the US.
“I’m not counting on their altruism or their cooperation,” Azar said at the Financial Times’ Pharma Pricing Summit on Thursday. “We’re going to change the rules of the road to make enduring changes to the incentive systems built into the channel.”
The Trump administration has been vocal about lowering drug prices in the US, coming to a head in July when President Donald Trump singled out pharma giant Pfizer for its price increases.
Shortly after, Pfizer and a number of major pharmaceutical companies made various commitments not to increase the price of its medications until 2019. US pharma giant Merck went so far as to lower the prices of some of its medications.
In May, the Trump administration laid out a 44-page drug-pricing blueprint, calling out middlemen in the pharmaceutical industry and “freeloading” by other countries that pay less than the US for prescription drugs. Azar said Thursday that it’ll take time for some of the regulations coming out of that blueprint to take effect.
One of the areas he’s focused on, he said, are the rebates pharmaceutical companies negotiate with those middlemen. The way he sees it, rebates are leading to higher list prices.
“The rebate system we have is a constant incentive to higher list prices,” Azar said.
Azar’s no stranger to the pharmaceutical industry. Prior to joining the Trump administration, he served as a senior executive at Eli Lilly, a pharmaceutical company based in Indianapolis.