Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)

The medications that are thrown away

Data: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; Table: Axios Visuals

Last year, Medicare paid for $725 million worth of expensive medications administered in outpatient clinics — things like chemotherapy drugs — that ended up being discarded, according to new data released by the federal government.

Why it matters: Although that amount is just 2% of what Medicare paid for those types of infusion drugs, that's still a "very astonishing amount of waste," said Rena Conti, a health economist at Boston University who has studied the issue.

Inside the bitter feud at Trump's health agencies

Illustration of a doctor wearing a red tie, with his arms crossed over his chest his stethoscope tied in knots
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

When Alex Azar took over as Health and Human Services secretary, he was advised not to meet one-on-one with Seema Verma, one of his most important deputies. HHS staff said Verma was difficult to work with and quick to level accusations of sex discrimination — exactly where Azar finds himself now.

The big picture: Verma's claims that she's being discriminated against because of her gender extend throughout her tenure in the Trump administration, but her own behavior makes it difficult to tell whether the problem is her mismanagement or a male-dominated culture that makes it hard for a woman to hold her rightful sway, according to interviews with more than a dozen sources who know the situation well.