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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

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden readies massive shifts in policy for his first days in office.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.
  6. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.
Dave Lawler, author of World
5 hours ago - World

Alexey Navalny detained after landing back in Moscow

Navalny and his wife shortly before he was detained. Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny was detained upon his return to Moscow on Sunday, which came five months after he was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok. He returned despite being warned that he would be arrested.

The latest: Navalny was stopped at a customs checkpoint and led away alone by officers. He appeared to hug his wife goodbye, and his spokesman reports that his lawyer was not allowed to accompany him.

Mike Allen, author of AM
7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's "overwhelming force" doctrine

President-elect Biden arrives to introduce his science team in Wilmington yesterday. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

President-elect Biden has ordered up a shock-and-awe campaign for his first days in office to signal, as dramatically as possible, the radical shift coming to America and global affairs, his advisers tell us. 

The plan, Part 1 ... Biden, as detailed in a "First Ten Days" memo from incoming chief of staff Ron Klain, plans to unleash executive orders, federal powers and speeches to shift to a stark, national plan for "100 million shots" in three months.