DRUGS/HHS/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said it was within his agency’s power to eliminate rebates on prescription drug purchases, a key element of the Trump administration’s plan to lower prescription medicine costs. Such rebates are negotiated in the United States by pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs) to lower the cost of medicines for their clients, including large employers and health plans that cover tens of millions of Americans. Drugmakers say they are under pressure to provide rebates to the few PBMs that dominate the market, which include CVS (CVS.N), Express Scripts (ESRX.O) and UnitedHealth’s Optum (UNH.N), and that those payers do not pass on enough of those savings to patients – a contention the PBMs dispute. The drugmakers say the rebates force them to raise the price of their therapies over time to preserve their business. The Trump administration has been receptive to that argument. Azar, in an interview with Reuters on Friday [8-17-18], said rebates created a perverse incentive to continuously raise drug prices.”

Yasmeen Abutaleb, “U.S. health secretary says agency can eliminate drug rebates,” Reuters, August 20, 2018 4:07 am