Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar today provided additional information on steps the agency will take to implement the president’s blueprint to lower prescription drug costs. “In short order, we will be issuing a request for proposal to make new use of an alternative system for buying Part B drugs, a Competitive Acquisition Program,” Azar said. “We believe there are more private sector entities equipped to negotiate these better deals in Part B, and we want to let them do it. More broadly, the President has called on us to merge Medicare Part B into Part D, where negotiation has been so successful on so many drugs.” Among other actions, Azar said the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services this week will unveil updates to its drug-pricing dashboard and warn Medicare Part D plan sponsors that their contracts with pharmacies should not prevent the pharmacist from telling customers when they can get a better deal on a drug by paying cash. He also said that the Food and Drug Administration will begin publicly identifying drug companies suspected of blocking access to samples needed to test generic drugs. “For too long, there’s been a lot of talk on drug prices and no action,” Azar said. “Drug companies have insisted we can have new cures or affordable prices, but not both…I’m not interested in hearing those talking points anymore, and neither is the President.” HHS is accepting comments on the blueprint to lower drug prices for 60 days.

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