Lawmakers grill HHS secretary on plan to lower drug prices - | WBTV Charlotte

Lawmakers grill HHS secretary on plan to lower drug prices

HHS Secretary Alex Azar was grilled on Capitol Hill as he gave details on the Trump administration's strategy to lower prescription drug prices. (Source: CNN/Pool) HHS Secretary Alex Azar was grilled on Capitol Hill as he gave details on the Trump administration's strategy to lower prescription drug prices. (Source: CNN/Pool)

(CNN) – The secretary of Health and Human Services was grilled on Capitol Hill about prescription drugs Tuesday.

This comes about a month after President Trump announced an effort to reduce drug costs for all Americans.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar reiterated to senators a few ways the Trump administration wants to help lower drug costs.

"First, we need to create the right incentives for lowering list prices," Azar said.

The Trump administration wants drug companies to include list prices in TV ads.

But Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire said TV drug ads are inherently problematic because drug companies get tax breaks for them.

"To me, this is a basic fairness issue. We shouldn't be giving tax breaks on the billions of dollars they spend on advertising - advertising that hikes up costs for consumers," Hassan said.

Azar said the Trump administration’s second strategy is "better negotiation within Medicare. That is what President Trump has promised, and it's what we're going to deliver."

Azar also laid out a third strategy: making a more competitive marketplace in the U.S.

Right now, some companies sit on their right to have the first six months of a generic drug exclusive to them. And if they don't launch, the six-month clock never starts.

"We want the authority that once another generic is available to be approved, let that clock start running and roll," Azar said.

Azar was criticized by some on the committee for suggesting the U.S. should lower what Americans pay, while foreign countries should increase their share.

"Maybe we should learn something from countries around the world that are negotiating drug prices, that are lowering prices, rather than demanding that countries around the world pay higher prices – which, by the way, I don't think they would," said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT.

Copyright 2018 CNN. All rights reserved.

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