HHS drug price advisor to depart

Less than a year after coming aboard HHS as senior advisor to the agency’s secretary Alex Azar, for drug pricing reform, John O’Brien is stepping down from his position.

O’Brien was named to the position in December 2018, and served in the role following the death of Daniel Best, who previously served in the role to Azar. O’Brien will be succeeded by John Brooks, who is currently prinicipal deputy director of the Center for Medicare.

The leadership change comes at a time when the Trump administration is making significant healthcare proposals to lower drug prices and overall spending across the sector. Recently, HHS proposed requiring hospitals to publish their negotiated rates with health insurers after a recent executive order from President Trump demanded increased transparency. Despite efforts to stem rising drug prices, costs have still increased in 2019.

Azar did not state a date of departure for O’Brien, who also served as senior advisor to Azar for health reform and drug pricing and deputy assistant secretary for health policy within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation.

“John O’Brien’s time at HHS will leave a legacy of lasting improvements to American healthcare, including the way that Americans pay for prescription drugs,” Azar said in a statement. “Prices and out-of-pocket costs are lower, and will go lower still, because of the work we did to execute on President Trump’s American Patients First blueprint. John was one of the key architects of that blueprint, he was one of the key leaders in its execution, and we are grateful for his service."