Feb 10, 2017

CVS on drug prices: "We are the solution and not the problem"

Brad Davis / The Register-Herald via AP

CVS Health CEO Larry Merlo pushed back Thursday against the rising criticism that pharmacy benefit managers, including his company, have contributed to the skyrocketing prices of prescription drugs over the past several years.

"Any suggestion that PBMs are causing drug prices to rise is simply erroneous. We are the solution and not the problem." — CVS Health CEO Larry Merlo

Merlo, who made $38.2 million in 2015, also said the fees and rebates pharmacy benefit managers earn from drug companies are passed through to its health plan and employer clients.

The takeaway: CVS is best known for its retail pharmacy stores, but the company also is a gigantic pharmacy benefit manager. That side of the business brought in $120 billion of revenue in 2016, or two-thirds of CVS' total revenue. CVS, which registered a profit of $5.3 billion in 2016, and its fellow industry players have a big target on their backs and will need to do a lot more explaining if they want to avoid regulatory changes.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 6,800,604 — Total deaths: 396,591 — Total recoveries — 2,785,268Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 1,908,235 — Total deaths: 109,443 — Total recoveries: 491,706 — Total tested: 19,231,444Map.
  3. Public health: Some people are drinking and inhaling cleaning products in attempt to fight coronavirus Fauci: "Very concerned" about spread of virus amid George Floyd protests — Cities offer free testing for protesters.
  4. Tech: The pandemic is accelerating next-generation disease diagnostics — Robotics looks to copy software-as-a-service model as use of robots accelerates.
  5. Business: Sports, film production in California to resume June 12 after 3-month hiatus
  6. Education: Students and teachers flunked remote learning.

George Floyd updates

A protester holds a placard reading "Covid kills People, Racism kills Communities" as they attend a demonstration in Manchester, northern England, on June 6, to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. Photo: Paul Ellis/Contributor.

Thousands are gathering for a day of protests in Washington, D.C., almost two weeks after George Floyd's killing. Protesters in Australia and Europe staged anti-racism demonstrations on Saturday as well.

What's happening: A memorial service for Floyd is taking place in Raeford, North Carolina — near where he was born. Gov. Roy Cooper ordered all flags to fly at half-staff to honor Floyd until sunset.

Buffalo police officers arrested after shoving 75-year-old protester

Photo: Mike Desmond/WBFO via AP

Two Buffalo police officers were charged with assault on Saturday after a video emerged of them shoving a 75-year-old protester while clearing a demonstration in the wake of George Floyd's killing, AP reports, citing prosecutors.

The state of play: Both officers pleaded not guilty to second-degree assault, and were released without bail. After the law enforcement officers were initially suspended without pay on Friday, all 57 officers on the Buffalo Police Department's Emergency Response Team resigned in a show of support for their fellow officers' suspensions.