Dem questions hiring of former CVS executive to lead drug pricing reform
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) is questioning the hiring of a former CVS executive to oversee drug pricing efforts at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Ellison, who is often outspoken on the issue of rising drug costs, said Dan Best’s hiring poses a “potential conflict of interest” because he has worked in both the pharmaceutical and pharmacy industry.
“The decision to hire him poses significant potential for conflicts of interest, placing him in a position to make decisions that may pit the income of his former employers against the interests of patients in reducing prescription drug prices,” Ellison wrote in a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar.
Best was vice president of industry relations at CVS Caremark before joining HHS and previously worked for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals from 2001-2005.
Azar announced last week that Best would advise him on drug pricing reform issues, describing him as a “highly accomplished healthcare industry executive” with the necessary experience to “design and enact reforms to lower the price of medicines.”
But Ellison framed Best’s experience as a drawback, not an asset.
Ellison asked Azar what actions Best would take to ensure conflicts of interest don’t affect his job, and if he has divested from all CVS Caremark and Pfizer holdings.
“Mr. Best’s tenure at Pfizer raises serious questions about his ability to create fair and consumer-friendly policies at HHS and his ability to rein in rising drug costs,” Ellison wrote.