In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Monday, retail pharmacy giant CVS said it supports the Trump administration as it works toward its goal of reducing the costs of prescription drugs.
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“Until drug manufacturers reduce the high price they set for these drugs, we know this problem is not going away,” the company wrote in response to a request for information (RFI). “We support the administration's goal to lower drug prices and reduce out-of-pocket costs for consumers and we are using every innovative tool possible to bring down the cost of drugs ourselves.”
CVS also said it has witnessed patient “sticker shock” first hand, as prices “have grown 10 times faster than inflation over the last five years.”
Critics say pharmacy benefit managers, like CVS, have been part of the problem when it comes to soaring drug prices, as each additional layer of the supply chain offers an opportunity to increase costs.
CVS said it kept drug price increases to just 0.2% last year, the lowest level in five years, despite drugmakers’ price hikes. The company also said 30% of its customers spent less on drugs in 2017 than they did in 2016.
President Donald Trump has promised to lower the costs of prescription drugs, and his administration has recently taken steps aimed at doing so, including expanding access to short-term plans that don’t have to meet all of the Affordable Care Act requirements.
The administration is also seeking to increase competition by speeding up the approval process for over-the-counter medicines, streamlining the generic drug approval process and ensuring that a larger portion of rebates are passed directly on to patients.
CVS pointed to increased competition and expanding coverage for preventative products as suggestions for helping the administration achieve its goal.