POLITICO's Pulse Check

HHS Secretary Alex Azar

Episode Summary

HHS Secretary Alex Azar sits down with POLITICO to discuss the Trump administration's new drug pricing plan.

Episode Notes

One week ago, HHS Secretary Alex Azar joined President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden to announce his signature initiative: A long-awaited plan to lower drug prices.

The secretary’s been on a tour to explain the plan — which has faced resistance from pharma and was panned by some Wall Street analysts — and POLITICO’s Dan Diamond joined Azar at HHS headquarters to review the latest developments.

On this episode, Azar discusses where drug prices rank as an administration priority and how he wants taxpayers to judge success (starts at the 1:40 mark), why the plan doesn’t include importing drugs from Canada, an idea that Trump supported as a presidential candidate (5:15), why Azar wants to put drug prices in TV ads (9:00), whether he was prepared for the backlash to the plan (10:15), why he suggested that the media doesn’t want the drug plan to be perceived as successful (12:10), how Azar wants to combine Medicare Part B and Part D negotiations (13:10), and what Azar sees as a former pharma executive (16:45).

Then stick around after the credits for a closing thought from Azar on his time at HHS (19:30).

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Have questions, suggestions or feedback? Email ddiamond@politico.com.


The Trump administration's "American Patients First" drug pricing plan: https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/AmericanPatientsFirst.pdf

Former Obama appointee Tim Gronniger, who steered CMS’ failed efforts to reform drug prices in 2016, joined POLITICO's podcast this week to share his perspective on the Trump plan: https://simplecast.com/s/7b2ddfbc

The Community Oncology Alliance warned against the Trump plan: https://www.communityoncology.org/2018/05/16/may-16-coa-physician-survey-medicare-part-b-proposals-will-harm-patients-increase-costs-and-bureaucracy/

Vermont became the first state this week to permit drug imports from Canada: https://www.politico.com/story/2018/05/16/vermont-drug-imports-canada-546107

The FDA approved a biosimilar for an anemia drug this week: https://www.upi.com/FDA-approves-biosimilar-drug-for-anemia-treatment/4561526408086/

Azar appeared on the “Hugh Hewitt” radio show to discuss the drug plan this week: http://www.hughhewitt.com/hhs-secretary-alex-azar/