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August 16, 2018
Contact: HHS Press Office
[email protected]

HHS Secretary Azar Meets with Specialty and Patient Groups Regarding Drug Pricing

On Wednesday, Secretary Alex Azar met with representatives of specialty-physician and patient groups to discuss the Trump Administration’s efforts to offer new tools for Medicare Advantage plans to negotiate lower drug prices for patients.

The groups included the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network, the American College of Rheumatology, the American Society of Clinical Oncologists, and Patients for Affordable Drugs. Secretary Azar was joined by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Principal Deputy Administrator Demetrios Kouzoukas, Senior Advisor for Drug Pricing Reform Dan Best, and Advisor to the Secretary John O’Brien.

Both Secretary Azar and the organizational representatives expressed appreciation for the opportunity to share their views with each other on the recent announcement that Medicare Advantage plans will be able to use step therapy or prior authorization to negotiate lower drug prices for patients. Most of the groups with representatives in attendance have expressed concerns about the new policy.

Representatives offered their individual views on the new policy, included concerns about the complexity and challenges their organizations’ members have faced in prescribing drugs for patients covered by plans that use prior authorization or step therapy. A number of individuals also expressed their support for the administration’s attention to the issue of prescription drug pricing.

Secretary Azar emphasized the department’s interest in innovations and solutions that can address the high price of prescription drugs, and individual attendees offered a number of ideas, including noting their support for concepts put forth in President Trump’s American Patients First blueprint. He also shared his openness to solutions that may alleviate the burden that could be imposed on physicians by the new negotiation tools.

Read the President’s American Patients First blueprint.

Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other news materials are available at https://www.hhs.gov/news.
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Last revised: August 16, 2018

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