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HHS Pharmaceutical Forum: Innovation, Access, Affordability and Better Health

Modern medicine, including new pharmaceuticals that cure or help combat life threatening diseases, continues to deliver significant benefits for patients.  And in general, the development of new, innovative medicines has been good for both patients and our economy. However, the high and growing cost of drugs has created hardship for families, employers, and states. Specialty medications represent only 1% of all prescriptions but, in 2014, these medications resulted in over 31% of all drug spending.

Secretary Burwell asked stakeholders to share information as to how to address this complex problem. The forum brought together consumers, providers, employers, manufacturers, health insurance issuers, representatives from state and federal government, and other stakeholders to share information and discuss ideas to increase access to information, drive innovation, strengthen incentives and promote competition.  We continue to seek your views on how to foster a health care system that leads in innovation, delivers the most affordable, highest quality medicines and results in healthier people.

During the forum, we heard from a broad range of stakeholders on opportunities to improve patient access to affordable prescription drugs, develop innovative purchasing strategies and incorporate value-based and outcomes-based models into purchasing programs in both the public and private sectors. 

We acknowledge this is a multi-faceted problem with no one solution, but there is a significant benefit – to all of us – of working together to find a solution. We look forward to continuing this discussion and the important work to foster innovation and increase access and affordability to prescription drugs.


This event was held on November 20, 2015, from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. The event was held in-person and also webcasted live. We included the links below to the recorded sessions and materials.

Time Slot

Agenda Item

9:00 a.m. – 9:15 a.m.


Presenters will discuss the complex problem of rising drug costs, the impact on patients, businesses, taxpayers, and state and federal budgets, and the challenge of balancing innovation with affordability.

Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell, US Department of Health and Human Services

Susan Dentzer, Forum Moderator

9:15 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

The Balance between Innovation & Smarter Spending

This session examined the current and future drug classes that contribute to rising health care costs, as well as the impact of innovative and breakthrough therapies in the pipeline on patient care.

Douglas M. Long, Vice President, Industry Relations, IMS Health

  • Presentation slides

Mark McClellan, MD, Ph.D., Senior Fellow and Director, Health Care Innovation and Value Initiatives, Brookings Institution

  • Presentation slides

10:15 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.


10:30 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.

Addressing Patient Access & the Affordability of Prescription Drugs

The panel highlighed significant challenges for patients and providers in accessing drugs and discussed opportunities to increase access and affordability, and to reward quality of care that drives increased value.

Heather Block, Consumer Advocate

Marc M. Boutin, JD, Chief Executive Officer, National Health Council

Bianca DiJulio, Associate Director for the Public Opinion and Survey Research Program at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

Lisa Gill, Editor, Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs

Debra Whitman, Ph.D., Chief Public Policy Officer, AARP

11:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.

Break for Lunch

12:45 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Welcome Back

Andy Slavitt, Acting Administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), US Department of Health and Human Services

1:00 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.

Purchasing Strategies & Utilization Management Best Practices

Panelists shared approaches to innovative purchasing strategies, identify best practices within these models, and how the innovations could be implemented in Medicare and Medicaid.

Chester “Chip” Davis, Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer, GPhA

Andrea Grande, R.Ph., Vice President, Eastern Region Pharmacy Lead, Aon Hewitt

Brian Lehman, MBA, MHA, R.Ph., Manager of Pharmacy Benefits and Policy, Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS)

Justin Senior, Deputy Secretary for Medicaid, Florida Agency for Health Care Administration

Christi Shaw, US Country Head, President of Novartis Corporation & President of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation

2:15 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.


2:30 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.

Value-Based & Outcomes-Based Pharmaceutical Purchasing Programs

Panelists discussed value-based and outcomes-based purchasing strategies with a focus on identifying successful elements of these models that can be implemented broadly, and provided some implementation lessons learned from market leaders.

Daniel Durham, Executive Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, AHIP

Kenneth C. Frazier, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Merck & Co.

Steve Miller, MD, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Express Scripts

Alan P. Spielman, Assistant Director, Healthcare and Insurance, Federal Employee Insurance Operations, US Office of Personnel Management (OPM)

Bernard J. Tyson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Kaiser Permanente

3:45 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.


Meena Seshamani, MD, Ph.D., Director of the Office of Health Reform, US Department of Health and Human Services


Content created by Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (ASPA)
Content last reviewed on November 24, 2015