Jan 29, 2018

Trump: Azar will bring drug prices “way down”

Alex Azar is sworn in as HHS secretary. Photo: Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images

New Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar is “going to get those prescription drug prices way down,” President Trump said today at Azar’s official swearing-in ceremony.

Reality check: Aside from the president himself, the Trump administration has shown little interest in using the federal government’s purchasing power to leverage lower prices for prescription drugs, and Azar has also said he opposes such an approach.

What Trump said: “You look at other countries — they pay a fraction for the exact same drug. The exact same pill, in an identical box from the same factory, costs us much more — many times more than it does in other countries. And nobody knows that process better than Alex. And we're going to get that done because it's very unfair to our country. Neighboring countries pay a tiny fraction of what we pay for the same exact pill made in the same location.”

How it works: It’s true that the same drug is often cheaper in other countries than in the U.S. That’s often a result of government-imposed price controls in those countries, and mainstream Republicans have staunchly opposed implementing similar controls here.

The bottom line: Azar, the former president of drug maker Eli Lilly, said in his Senate confirmation hearings that he would be open to some efforts to bring down drug prices, including a crackdown on certain patent practices. But he has repeatedly spoken out against the sort of price controls that keep drug prices low in Canada and Western Europe.

Correction: This story has been updated to correct Azar's role at Eli Lilly. He was the company's president.

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U.S. coronavirus updates: Infections number tops 140,000

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

The novel coronavirus has now infected over 142,000 people in the U.S. — more than any other country in the world, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: COVID-19 had killed over 2,400 people in the U.S. by Sunday night. That's far fewer than in Italy, where over 10,000 people have died — accounting for a third of the global death toll. The number of people who've recovered from the virus in the U.S. exceeded 2,600 Sunday evening.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 8 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 721,584 — Total deaths: 33,958 — Total recoveries: 149,122.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 142,106 — Total deaths: 2,479 — Total recoveries: 2,686.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump says his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30.
  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 "panicked" some people into fleeing New York
  6. World updates: Italy on Sunday reports 756 new deaths, bringing its total 10,779. Spain reports almost 840 dead, another new daily record that bring 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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World coronavirus updates: Cases surge past 720,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

There are now more than 720,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins. The virus has now killed more than 33,000 people — with Italy alone reporting over 10,000 deaths.

The big picture: Governments around the world have stepped up public health and economic measures to stop the spread of the virus and soften the financial impact. In the U.S., now the site of the largest outbreak in the world, President Trump said Sunday that his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health