U.S. Lobbies Against U.K. Drug System

US Deputy Health Secretary, Alex Azar, is lobbying the Britain's Health Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, to ease restrictions on the drug industry. In particular, the U.S. drug companies want the ban on direct-to-consumer advertising dropped and to increase the prices the government pays for drugs. Sarah Bosely reports that both Azar and the drug industry object to procedures used the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, which evaluates the effectiveness of a new drug and whether it represents value for money compared to drugs that are already available. Azar, like the drug industry, claims that restrictions on prices limit the willingness of companies to invest in research on new drugs. "I try to remember to advise people first off that we will never balance our budget going after drug prices," Azar said. Azar has been a strong supporter of Republican politicians and was a member of Lawyers for Bush-Cheney 2004 and contributed $2,000 to Bush-Cheney '04 Inc..