HHS secretary, Senate Finance Republicans talk drug pricing

HHS secretary, Senate Finance Republicans talk drug pricing
© Greg Nash

Senate Finance Republicans met with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Wednesday to discuss the administration's drug pricing proposals.

The committee's new chairman, Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyFalling investment revives attacks against Trump's tax cuts Overnight Health Care: CDC links vitamin E oil to vaping illnesses | White House calls Pelosi drug price plan 'unworkable' | Dem offers bill for state-based 'Medicare for All' White House says Pelosi plan to lower drug prices 'unworkable' MORE (R-Iowa), said the senators and Azar discussed the administration's controversial proposal to base what Medicare pays for prescription drugs on prices in other countries.

Some Republicans aren't ready to back the proposal, claiming that it the proposal imports foreign price controls. 

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"There was some Republican interest for it, and some against it, but I can't quantify it," Grassley told reporters. 

Grassley said last week that he had concerns about the proposal, but would withhold judgement until the administration responds to public comments.

“I can say initially, I don’t want foreign countries setting our drug prices,” Grassley said. “Now what can [Azar] do to modify that so that principle's not violated?”

The powerful pharmaceutical lobby also opposes the measure, expressing a desire for the administration to back down and floating the possibility of pushing legislation against the proposal should it become finalized.