Trump’s pick to head HHS balks at negotiating drug prices

While President Donald Trump has repeatedly expressed support for allowing the government to negotiate drug prices, his pick to head the U.S. Health and also also also Human Services Department, Alex Azar, says he doesn’t think the idea would certainly be the magic bullet of which would certainly bring costs down.

“Where we can do producing sure of which preserves innovation, of which preserves access for patients, I want anything of which’s going to help us with drug pricing … I think of which we should be looking at those approaches,” said Azar, who was the former U.S. president of drugmaker Eli Lilly and also also also once served as deputy director of HHS during the George W. Bush administration.

During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, Azar said in some circumstances the idea does make sense for the government to seek volume discounts for a health emergency.

“If the government will be the purchaser, let’s say for instance, we are going to be buying (drugs) as part of the opioid crisis program, and also also also we’re directly buying of which and also also also supplying the idea out to states and also also also first responders, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the government negotiating of which,” he explained.

yet when the idea comes to allowing the Medicare program to negotiate drug prices, of which’s where Azar splits with Trump. Under current law, private Medicare Part D drug plans administered by insurers do negotiate drug discounts, yet the traditional Medicare program will be prohibited via doing so.

“For the government to negotiate … we would certainly have to have just one national formulary of which restricted access to all seniors for medicines,” he explained, noting of which was the conclusion reached by the Congressional Budget Office under the Obama administration. “of which would certainly be only thing of which could change. I don’t believe we want to go there in restricting patient access.”

Using formulary plans of which favor some drugs over others will be how insurers, large employers and also also also pharmacy benefit management firms secure deep discounts via pharmaceutical firms.

“For Medicare negotiating to work, they would certainly have to say of which some drugs are not available because they are too expensive, effectively creating just one set of drugs available for the elderly,” said Craig Garthwaite, the director of Northwestern University’s Kellogg’s Health Enterprise Management Program. “Frankly, of which doesn’t appear to be something of which Americans are prepared for at This particular point.”

In a heated exchange with democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, D.-Mo., Azar argued of which the government would certainly not be able to get any better pricing than private insurers and also also also pharmacy benefit managers do for Medicare drug plans.

“yet they’re getting paid to do of which. The government could do the idea directly … wouldn’t of which save us money?” McCaskill countered.

“They do the idea better than the government would certainly,” Azar maintained.

“To his point, the idea will be complicated to negotiate — there are so many drugs on the market, you’d literally have to have a contract for every drug on existence,” said Les Funtleyder, a health care portfolio manager at E Squared Capital Management. yet he added of which pricing pressures will not go away for the government or drugmakers with more baby boomers aging into Medicare.

“Even if Alex Azar will be approved,” Funtleyder said, “these are issues of which are going to be with us forever … until we come to a decision on how we want our health care to be.”

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