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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

Everyone wants to be an influencer

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The number of people looking to become online influencers has exploded during the pandemic.

Why it matters: Almost anyone can find themselves in a position to become an influencer, and brands are throwing billions of dollars at online content creators.

At least 3 dead after Amtrak train derails in Montana

Photo: Jacob Cordeiro/Twitter

An Amtrak train derailed near Joplin, Montana, resulting in at least three deaths and multiple injuries to passengers and crew on Saturday, per authorities and a company statement.

The big picture: 141 passengers and 16 crew members were estimated to be on the Empire Builder train, traveling from Chicago to Seattle and Portland, when eight of the 10 cars derailed about 4p.m., Amtrak said early Sunday.

Updated 11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Federal judge blocks vaccine mandate for NYC teachers

Students are dismissed from the first day of school at PS 133 in Brooklyn on Sept. 13. Photo: Michael Nagle/Xinhua via Getty Images

A federal appeals court is set to hear a challenge Wednesday to a vaccine mandate planned for New York City school employees.

Why it matters The vaccine mandate was set to begin on Monday, prompting concerns over staffing shortages in schools across the nation's largest school system. But a judge on Friday temporarily blocked the measure, per AP.