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Rx Reform: Knowing What the Drug Costs Before You Buy It

Health and Human Services Sec. Alex Azar says Medicaid and Medicare reform are also part of the Trump plan.

WASHINGTON, D.C.--You should be able to know what you will pay for a medicine when you see it advertised on TV, said Alex Azar, Health and Human Services secretary, at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Tuesday.

Azar testified on the need to bring down drug prices, and spoke about the Trump plan, which was released in May.

"Over the last decade, four significant problems have arisen in the pharmaceutical market: high list prices, seniors and government programs overpaying for drugs due to a lack of the latest negotiating tools, rising out of pocket costs and foreign governments free riding off of American investment and innovation," said Azar.

Azar said the president's plan lays out four strategies to tackle the problems. One of those involves allowing Medicare Part D to adjust its coverage if a generic drug made by only one company increases its price during a coverage period.

"Earlier this year the president's 2019 budget laid out a range of proposals for lowering drug prices, including reforms to Medicare and Medicaid," said Azar. 

He said the proposal that would require a drug company to list its price in advertising is also a priority.

"I believe American deserve to know the price of a wonderful new drug they hear about on TV before going to ask their doctor about a product they find to be unaffordable," he said.

Azar also said ending rebates to pharmacies from drug companies would also help to stabilize prices.

“We may need to move toward a system without rebates, where PBMs and drug companies just negotiate fixed-price contracts,” said Azar. “Such a system’s incentives, detached from artificial list prices, would likely serve patients far better.”

Azar said he believes quick implementation of Trump's proposals, some of which will require research and legislation, will help to protect Americans from unfair price increases and encroachment from foreign competitors and keep America "the world's leader in biopharmaceutical innovation".

PHOTO: CNN Newsource

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