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A watchdog group has asked ethics officials at the Department of Health and Human Services to investigate the relationship between Alex Azar, who heads the department, and Eli Lilly (LLY), his former employer, over a recently proposed rule that would benefit drug makers.

The request by the Campaign for Accountability, a nonprofit, comes in response to a proposal the Trump administration is considering to reduce or restrict rebates, which are essentially a type of discount that drug makers provide pharmacy benefit managers off the wholesale, or list, price for their medicines in order to receive favorable placement on formularies, which are lists of insured drugs.


Drug makers claim PBMs, which keep a percentage of rebates, demand higher amounts to bolster profits and in turn, drug makers must respond by raising list prices. PBMs counter that rebates blunt price hikes that drug makers regularly take in order to boost their own profits. But the pharmaceutical industry has been winning this debate, and the nonprofit wants to know if Azar is carrying water for drug makers.

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