Azar: Trump Admin Working on Drug Prices, EpiPen Shortage

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Monday outlined the steps the Trump administration is taking to curb spiraling prescription drug prices and address the nationwide EpiPen shortage.

“We are working with the manufacturer to make sure that consumers have ready information about where the product is available,” Azar told Fox Business’ “Mornings With Maria” host Maria Bartiromo.

“We are making sure patients have knowledge about where to go,” Azar said. “We are also making sure patients are aware of alternatives.”

The EpiPens contain epinephrine, and are used to treat potentially deadly allergic reactions. They are in short supply because of manufacturing delays at Meridian Medical Technologies, the Pfizer company that makes the devices for Mylan NV.

Mylan says it is still possible to find EpiPens at wholesale operations and at pharmacies.

Meanwhile, Azar, while discussing Trump’s call to lower prescription drug prices, said innovation and competition are key parts of the president’s plan.

“I don’t really buy into pharma rhetoric that you take one penny out of profit and somehow innovation is going away completely,” he said. “We are doing premarket solutions to harness powering of the market.”

Part of the plan will unleashing Medicare Part D to negotiate against the pharmacy industry in certain categories, “where right now negotiation is basically not existing, with almost no discount to rebates being paid,” said Azar.

“We are pulling that off allowing full negotiations, going to have bidding, and real discounting in that space for the first time ever going to bring negotiation, competition and discounting to the physician administering drugs where nothing existed in the past,” Azar said.

The way Congress designed the program, physician-administered drugs are covered immediately by Medicare, but drugs that must be picked up and self-administered are not covered immediately, and consumers pay up to 30 percent or more for the medications.

Trump also plans to bring speedy access to the generic market, said Azar, and that makes it vitally important to protect the nation’s borders, so Americans do not have to worry about the safety, and the adulteration of the medicines they get from China and other locations.

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