Last week, the government’s top drug pricing adviser, Dan Best, died.
HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement,
“It is with tremendous sadness that I learned of the passing of our friend and colleague. I had the great privilege to know Dan Best for the past decade. He joined me here at HHS out of a desire to serve the American people by making healthcare more affordable. All of us who served with Dan at HHS and in the administration mourn his passing and extend our thoughts and prayers to his wife Lisa and the entire Best family at this difficult time.”1
However, missing from that statement was the cause of death. And when given an opportunity to comment, HHS spokesperson Caitlin Oakley declined to provide more information. I wonder why?
“Best, who served as a senior adviser to Azar on drug pricing since April, brought a wealth of expertise about the drug pricing system to the federal government. He spent over a decade working for pharmacy benefit managers, whose role in the cost of drugs has come under severe scrutiny from the Trump administration and Congress.”2
Best and the administration had been working to overhaul the way Medicare and other government-funded health insurance programs pay for prescription drugs (he previously worked for private companies that administered these programs). A process that has long needed attention.
Best’s former colleagues described him to STAT as a transparent and “tough but honest negotiator who made decisions that were in the best interest of patients.” 3
We will be watching the news for more information and will update you should a cause of death become available.