Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Wednesday defended President Donald Trump's plan to lower drug prices, calling it "the most far-reaching comprehensive plan to get at drug-price reduction in American history."
"In terms of those critics, they can't read and listen, and they're not understanding," Azar told Erin Burnett on CNN. "The president is bringing, as he promised, the power of Medicare to negotiate on behalf of seniors."
President Trump last Friday announced a program that would eliminate "dishonest double-dealing" among drug distributers that results in higher prices at the consumer level.
His plan will also get rid of a rule that bars pharmacists from telling consumers how they can save money on prescriptions, and it will allow the FDA to speed up the approval process of new over-the-counter medications.
Trump accused foreign countries of paying lower prices for drugs, a practice that forces Americans to pay more money to make up the difference.
Azar told Burnett that seniors in Medicare Part D and B programs could eventually expect to see drug prices fall by as much as 40 percent.
"We're going fix negotiation in our Part D and unleash the drug plans that we have working for us to get better rebates," he said. "Right now, they're hamstrung by the government."
Drugs under the Part B program are generally prescribed by a physician, Azar said.
"We're going to be introducing competition there — where, right now, there is none and no discounting.
"They ought to be paying close attention," he said. "Over this week, I've made clear the force and vigor with which we're going to be approaching this."
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