July 29, 2020

Around the nation: Walgreens Boots Alliance CEO to step down

Daily Briefing

    Walgreens Boots Alliance says its CEO, Stefano Pessina, "has decided to step down as CEO" but "will assume the role" of executive chair of the company's board of directors, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from the District of Columbia and Illinois.

    • District of Columbia: President Trump and top executives from the pharmaceutical industry had been scheduled to meet Tuesday to discuss prescription drug costs, but a White House official on Monday announced that the meeting was canceled. The official indicated that the pharmaceutical executives were responsible for the cancelation, saying, "The White House has been more than accommodating in attempts to schedule this meeting." Politico reports that major drug lobbies refused to send any representatives to the meeting in light of a series of executive orders targeting prescription drugs costs that Trump issued last week, including one order that seeks to tie some prescription drug prices in the United States to the prices paid for the drugs in other countries. "There are discussions taking place to determine the best way to work with the [Trump] administration on this issue over the coming week," an industry source reportedly told Politico. A spokesperson for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America told Inside Health Policy that the group is "willing to discuss ways to lower costs for patients at the pharmacy counter. However, we remain steadfastly opposed to policies that would allow foreign governments to set prices for medicines in the United States" (Cohen, Inside Health Policy, 7/27 [subscription required]; Chander et. al., Reuters, 7/27; Owermohle, Politico, 7/27; Sullivan, The Hill, 7/27).

    • District of Columbia: The American Hospital Association (AHA) and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) will ask the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to hear their lawsuit challenging CMS' site-neutral payments rule for 2019, after a panel of the court upheld the policy earlier this month. AHA and AAMC criticized the panel's decision, saying it "declined to strictly construe the statutory authority that binds [CMS], unaccountably deferring to impermissible agency decisions." The groups added, "These illegal cuts directly undercut the clear intent of Congress to protect hospital outpatient departments because of the many real and crucial differences between them and other sites of care" (Stein, Inside Health Policy, 7/24 [subscription required]).

    • Illinois: Walgreens Boots Alliance on Monday announced the company's CEO, Stefano Pessina, "has decided to step down as CEO" but "will assume the role" of executive chair of the company's board of directors. Walgreens said its board of directors will begin searching for a new CEO, and Pessina's transition will occur once the new CEO is appointed. Pessina has been CEO of Walgreens since 2015, when the company merged with Alliance Boots (Japsen, Forbes, 7/27; Roy, Reuters, 7/27; LaVito, Bloomberg, 7/27; Walgreens release, 7/27).

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