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Latest Top (4) News

100 Days of Action on the President’s American Patients First Blueprint

“The President’s blueprint for lower drug prices is working, drug prices are coming down, and American patients are going to see the savings in their pocketbook.” — Secretary Alex Azar  

Tomorrow, August 21, marks 100 days since the release of President Trump’s American Patients First Blueprint to Lower Drug Prices and Reduce Out-of-Pocket Costs. In this short period of time, an unprecedented number of actions have been taken toward structurally rebuilding this entire segment of the economy to lead to enduring lower prices that are sustainable, support innovation, and put American patients first.

Below is the introduction to a new report on the 100 days of action from Dan Best, Senior Advisor to the Secretary for Drug Pricing Reform: 

“For years, American patients have suffered under a drug-pricing system that provides generous incentives for innovation, while too often failing to deliver important medications at an affordable cost. The flaws in America’s drug markets have been a topic of discussion in healthcare policy circles for years, but no comprehensive approach to reform has ever been undertaken.

“On May 11, President Trump and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar released the American Patients First blueprint, a comprehensive plan to bring down prescription drug prices and out-of-pocket costs.

“The extensive number of proposals in the blueprint reflect the scale of the task: restructuring and reforming a fundamentally flawed drug-pricing system that governs a more than $400 billion sector of our economy. Reforms of significant parts of the healthcare market on a similar scale, such as Medicare Part D, have generally taken several years to implement, and several years after that to effect changes across the entire drug market.

“In the 100 days since May 11, HHS has taken dozens of actions on the four strategies contemplated in the blueprint: increased competition, better negotiation, incentives for lower list prices, and reducing out-of-pocket costs. Together, these actions have helped bring into focus a vision for a more competitive pharmaceutical marketplace. Pharmaceutical manufacturers, pharmacy benefit managers, and other actors in the market have indicated that they recognize the scale of disruption this would involve.

“At the time of the release of the blueprint, few observers believed that, within months, drug manufacturers would begin to change their annual ritual of significant price hikes. Yet that is what happened in the months following.

“Within these first 100 days, 15 drug companies have reduced list prices, rolled back planned price increases, or committed to price freezes for the rest of 2018. Cutting list prices and rolling back proposed increases in particular are an unprecedented recognition of the fundamental changes going on in drug markets.”

Drug company responses: 2 lowering prices or rolled back increases, 13 committed to price freezes for rest of 2018, 4 canceled planned price increases

To read the full report, please visit: https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/ReportOn100DaysofAction_AmericanPatientsFirstBlueprint.pdf

And to read a fact sheet on 100 days of results from the blueprint, please visit: https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/100DaysofResults_AmericanPatientsFirstBlueprint.pdf

Monday, August 20, 2018 - 15:15

HHS’s Brett Giroir and USAID’s Alma Golden in the New York Post: “No, Trump administration doesn’t question the importance of breastfeeding”


As pediatricians, US representatives at this year’s World Health Assembly in Geneva and supporters of breastfeeding throughout our professional careers, we were shocked to read recent headlines, in the New York Times and elsewhere, claiming that the Trump administration has somehow called into question the importance of breastfeeding for infants.

The administration fully endorses breastfeeding, and the agencies where we work — Health and Human Services and USAID — communicate this unequivocally. That’s why the US government supported unanimous consensus on the resolution on breastfeeding at the World Health Assembly, which plainly states that breastfeeding is optimal “for child survival, nutrition and development.”

In this same resolution, we urged countries to do more to promote breastfeeding and requested that the World Health Organization assist countries in mobilizing resources to support nutrition for infants and young children.

We don’t just affirm these priorities in formal conference rooms in Geneva. For years, the US government, under the leadership of both Republicans and Democrats, has invested millions of dollars to promote breastfeeding both at home and abroad. The Trump administration continues this effort.

We know breastfeeding helps children stay healthy. In fact, America gives more than any other nation when it comes to improving nutrition globally. From 1992 to 2015, these investments have helped double exclusive breastfeeding rates in 20 countries.

All of which is to say: Breastfeeding wasn’t in dispute in Geneva. Rather, we raised objections to an early draft of the resolution we eventually supported, which made references to a controversial 2016 guidance document. The underlying policy goal of this guidance is unsupported by US nutrition guidelines and inconsistent with the practice of most families in our country. In 2016, the Obama administration raised the same issues about the guidance, and members of Congress from both parties wrote letters to the Department of Health and Human Services expressing concerns.

In particular, the guidance recommends that countries impose stringent new regulations on the marketing of any commercially produced foods suggested for children between 6 months and 3 years old. Such restrictions, in our view, prevent parents from having access to all the factual information they might need. The guidance even advocates for the prohibition of free samples of formula — including in countries and conflict zones where supplies of formula could help save babies’ lives.

This administration unequivocally supports breastfeeding, and our position at this year’s World Health Assembly did nothing but reaffirm that. But we continued the practice of the previous administration and expressed concerns over the potentially negative public-health consequences of restricting information about safe, appropriate products for children.

Most important, there are good and valid reasons, both medical and personal, why some mothers cannot breastfeed, or choose not to breastfeed exclusively. This is particularly true in situations where displacement, other trauma or malnutrition have made it impossible for mothers to breastfeed their children, and these babies’ lives are at risk without formula or other nutritional supplementation. Parents in these dire situations need all the information and choices available.

Further, gradually introducing complementary foods after 6 months of age matches the guidance offered by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Promoting a range of food choices for young children while emphasizing the importance of breastfeeding is, in other words, the best medical guidance we can offer.

While the US government has been disappointed by the misinformation spread about the events in Geneva, there is also the opportunity for a positive outcome: The controversy has sparked an important conversation about the importance of balancing advocacy for breastfeeding with the fact that many women do need alternatives.

The Trump administration stands with all mothers, here and abroad, and supports them in making the choices that will help their children grow up to be strong and healthy.


To read the op-ed online, please visit: https://nypost.com/2018/07/20/no-team-trump-doesnt-question-the-importance-of-breastfeeding/

Saturday, July 21, 2018 - 14:30

HHS Secretary Azar Meets with Specialty and Patient Groups Regarding Drug Pricing

On Wednesday, Secretary Alex Azar met with representatives of specialty-physician and patient groups to discuss the Trump Administration’s efforts to offer new tools for Medicare Advantage plans to negotiate lower drug prices for patients.

The groups included the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network, the American College of Rheumatology, the American Society of Clinical Oncologists, and Patients for Affordable Drugs. Secretary Azar was joined by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Principal Deputy Administrator Demetrios Kouzoukas, Senior Advisor for Drug Pricing Reform Dan Best, and Advisor to the Secretary John O’Brien.

Both Secretary Azar and the organizational representatives expressed appreciation for the opportunity to share their views with each other on the recent announcement that Medicare Advantage plans will be able to use step therapy or prior authorization to negotiate lower drug prices for patients. Most of the groups with representatives in attendance have expressed concerns about the new policy.

Representatives offered their individual views on the new policy, included concerns about the complexity and challenges their organizations’ members have faced in prescribing drugs for patients covered by plans that use prior authorization or step therapy. A number of individuals also expressed their support for the administration’s attention to the issue of prescription drug pricing.

Secretary Azar emphasized the department’s interest in innovations and solutions that can address the high price of prescription drugs, and individual attendees offered a number of ideas, including noting their support for concepts put forth in President Trump’s American Patients First blueprint. He also shared his openness to solutions that may alleviate the burden that could be imposed on physicians by the new negotiation tools.

Read the President’s American Patients First blueprint.

Thursday, August 16, 2018 - 10:00

HHS announces grantees for Title X family planning program services

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Population Affairs announced the 96 grantees to whom HHS intends to award Title X family planning service grants for fiscal year 2018.  Twelve of the intended awards go to grantees who are new to Title X.  

These grants, which are expected to be awarded no later than September 1, 2018, cover all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and six Pacific jurisdictions, and support delivery of Title X services in almost 4,000 service sites. Title X service grants are awarded through a competitive process to public and private not-for-profit entities including state and local health departments, hospitals, university health centers, and nonprofit organizations, including community health centers.

“Today’s announcement demonstrates our commitment to continue providing access to high-quality family planning and related preventive health services with an emphasis on overall health and well-being of every person,” said Assistant Secretary for Health Brett P. Giroir, M.D. “This vital public health program makes important contributions toward achieving optimal health outcomes for the women and men who depend on it.”

Through its network of grantees, the Title X program serves more than 4 million family planning clients, most of whom are low-income women. The Title X program provides a broad range of family planning methods and related preventive health services, such as contraception (including natural family planning methods), pregnancy testing and counseling, preconception health care, basic infertility services, sexually transmitted disease screening and treatment, and breast and cervical cancer screening. The Title X statute prohibits funds from being used “in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.”

For a full list of intended grantees by area served, please see https://www.hhs.gov/opa/grants-and-funding/recent-grant-awards/index.html.

To learn more about the Title X program, visit:  https://www.hhs.gov/opa/familyplanning

To find a family planning clinic in your area, visit: https://opa-fpclinicdb.hhs.gov/

Thursday, August 2, 2018 - 14:00