Health agency chiefs defend Trump's plan to lower drug prices

Top federal health officials on Monday defended President Donald Trump's plan to reduce drug prices Monday after critics charged it left out more aggressive measures Trump advocated when he was a presidential candidate.

Top federal health officials on Monday defended President Donald Trump's plan to reduce drug prices Monday after critics charged it left out more aggressive measures Trump advocated when he was a presidential candidate. HHS Secretary Alex Azar supported the president's decision not to allow for the importation of American-made drugs from other countries such as Canada, a move Trump previously had suggested he favored. Azar said there is no way to ensure such drugs are really from Canada or Europe, rather than routed from a counterfeit factory elsewhere. He also said that while Trump's plan does not allow the Medicare program to negotiate fully for lower prices on behalf of its beneficiaries, it would subject some drugs obtained under Medicare to at least some additional bargaining. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, meanwhile, noted his agency had sharply increased the number of generic drugs approved over the past year. FDA in 2017 approved 1,027 new generic drugs, 214 more than the previous record set the previous year. He said the agency is working to ensure that certain complex drugs can also more easily attain generic approval. CMS administrator Seema Verma said her agency is looking at "value-based initiatives" that pay based on the medical outcomes that drugs produce, and on "their ability to impact total cost of care."

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