Jul 3, 2018

CVS: We haven't stopped price cuts on drugs

Photo: John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

CVS Health pushed back today against Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar's claims that pharmacy benefit managers are stopping drug companies from lowering their prices.

Why it matters: The political battle between drugmakers and PBMs, which act as middlemen in the supply chain, is fierce — and the Trump administration has singled out PBMs for most of its criticism. But CVS Health, one of the country's biggest PBMs, is trying to put the onus back on pharmaceutical companies.

The backstory: Members of the Senate health committee asked Azar recently about President Trump's promise that drugmakers were about to announce large, voluntary price cuts. Azar replied that some pharmaceutical companies want to cut their prices, but have faced resistance from PBMs.

What they're saying: "I was surprised to hear you say" that PBMs aren't cooperating, CVS Health President and CEO Larry Merlo said in a letter to Azar.

  • "We have not as part of the current dialogue or in any other circumstances instructed manufacturers not to lower list prices," Merlo said.

Go deeper: The first target on drug prices: pharmacy benefit managers

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 1 p.m. ET: 691,867 — Total deaths: 32,988 — Total recoveries: 146,613.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 1 p.m. ET: 125,433 — Total deaths: 2,201 — Total recoveries: 2,612.
  3. Federal government latest: The first federal prisoner to die from coronavirus was reported from a correctional facility in Louisiana on Sunday.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week — Cuomo says Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "really panicked" people
  6. World updates: Italy reported 756 new deaths, bringing its total 10,779. Spain reported almost 840 dead, another new daily record, bringing its total to over 6,500.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Cuomo: Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "really panicked people"

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a press conference Sunday that President Donald Trump's unexpected Saturday announcement of a possible "short-term" quarantine of New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut to curb the spread of the coronavirus "really panicked people."

Why it matters: Though Trump ruled out the mandatory quarantine later that day, Cuomo said people still called "all night long" asking about the comments and many likely fled the New York area — possibly spreading the virus further.

Go deeperArrow48 mins ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates: Fauci suggests death toll could top 100,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on CNN Sunday that models suggest COVID-19 will infect millions of Americans and could kill 100,000–200,000, though he stressed that the projections are "such a moving target."

The big picture: With more than 121,000 people infected, the U.S. has the most COVID-19 cases in the world, exceeding China and Italy, per data from Johns Hopkins. A second wave of American cities, including Boston, Detroit, New Orleans and Philadelphia, reported influxes of cases on Saturday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health