Readout of HHS Secretary Becerra’s Meeting with Pharmacy CEOs on COVID-19 Therapeutics Commercialization
On Monday, February 5, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra met virtually with pharmacy CEOs, including Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, and pharmacy leaders, to discuss COVID-19 therapeutics commercialization. Secretary Becerra reconvened pharmacy leaders as a follow-up to his larger meeting with pharmacies, pharmacy benefit managers, and insurers on January 9, 2024.
During the call, Secretary Becerra made it clear that no patient should be charged hundreds of dollars for Paxlovid at the pharmacy counter – stressing the importance of pharmacist education and clear communication to patients. Secretary Becerra re-iterated the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to equitable access to COVID-19 therapeutics, reminded pharmacy leaders of the pathways for access that HHS negotiated with Pfizer, and made it clear that HHS would continue to engage with pharmacist leadership as needed.
While HHS is no longer managing the distribution of COVID-19 therapeutics since they transitioned to the commercial market, the Biden-Harris Administration has been closely monitoring the therapeutics commercialization process and remains committed to equitable access to lifesaving COVID-19 therapeutics, including Paxlovid. Thanks to the pathways that HHS negotiated with Pfizer, all individuals on Medicare and Medicaid can receive Paxlovid for free through 2024 and individuals who are uninsured can receive Paxlovid for free through 2028.
A full list of participants is included below:
- Ilisa Bernstein, Senior Vice President, Practice, Policy, and Partnerships, American Pharmacists Association
- Prem Shah, Executive Vice President, Chief Pharmacy Officer, and President of Pharmacy and Consumer Wellness, CVS Health
- Doug Cornelius, Director of Pharmacy, The Kroger Company
- Krystalyn Weaver, Chief Executive Officer, National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations
- Steven Anderson, President and Chief Executive Officer, National Association of Chain Drug Stores
- Kurt Proctor, Senior Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, National Community Pharmacists Association
- Summer Kerley, Global Vice President, Pharmacy Growth and Clinical Programs, Rite Aid
- Rick Gates, Senior Vice President, Chief Pharmacy Officer, Walgreens Company
- Kevin Host, Senior Vice President and Head of Pharmacy, Walmart
To learn more about Paxlovid access, go to Pfizer’s PAXCESS Website. You can find more information about previous HHS engagements on COVID-19 therapeutics commercialization below:
- For over a year, HHS, the Administration for Strategic Preparedness & Response (ASPR), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and Pfizer have regularly met with stakeholder groups to discuss increased Paxlovid access and address other stakeholder questions around oral antivirals commercialization.
- As of October 13, 2023, HHS and Pfizer reached an agreement extending patient access to Paxlovid, maximizing taxpayer investment, and beginning Paxlovid’s transition to the commercial market.
- On October 27, 2023, at the outset of Paxlovid’s transition to the commercial market, Secretary Becerra wrote to therapeutics manufacturers, distributors, pharmacies, and the health care payer community requesting their partnership as therapeutics transitioned to the commercial market and asking that they inform HHS immediately if they encounter any operational problems that impede patient access to these treatments.
- On January 4, 2024, CMS released guidance for Medicare Part D plans that describes coverage and processing claims for COVID-19 therapeutics. As a reminder, Medicare Part D plans must cover commercially available oral antivirals for COVID-19, either as a formulary product or through the formulary exception process.
- On January 9, 2024, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra met virtually with pharmacy leaders, pharmacy benefit managers, and insurers to discuss HHS’ continued commitment and partnership to increase equitable access to COVID-19 therapeutics.
- On January 22, 2024, HHS and Pfizer leadership met virtually with health care provider groups highlighting the pathways for a smooth transition of oral antivirals for COVID-19, including Paxlovid, to the commercial market and the importance of provider education and clear communication to patients.