Trump administration announces departure of drug pricing adviser John O'Brien

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Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement Monday that John Brooks, principal deputy director of the Center for Medicare, will expand his role to help spearhead the Trump administration's efforts to lower drug prices upon John O'Brien's departure. (Sarah Stierch/CC BY 4.0)

John O'Brien, a top drug policy adviser to the Trump administration and one of the "key architects" of the president's blueprint plan to reduce prescription drug prices, plans to leave the role.

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement Monday that John Brooks, principal deputy director of the Center for Medicare, will expand his role to help spearhead the Trump administration's efforts to lower drug prices upon O'Brien's departure.

“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. "From the beginning of President Trump’s administration, John led policy research, analysis and development on a number of important issues, including strengthening the Medicare program for our seniors and addressing the effects of the Affordable Care Act. Later, he turned his attention and deep expertise to prescription drug pricing. 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."

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O'Brien 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," Azar said.

RELATED: Trump unveils 'American Patients First' plan to bring down drug costs 

O'Brien was named to the role in December following the unexpected death of his predecessor Dan Best.

O'Brien, a pharmacist, previously served as adviser to the secretary for health reform and drug pricing as well as deputy assistant secretary for health policy within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. He was was formerly vice president of public policy for CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield.

Azar said Brooks brings significant experience from the top levels of the White House, HHS and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. That experience has included serving as counselor to the secretary for health policy within HHS and as a senior principal for health policy, managing a team of 45 health policy and public health analysts working with federal health agencies to transform the U.S. healthcare system.

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