HHS Drug Pricing Advisor’s Death Raises Questions Among Industry Insiders

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Daniel Best, a pharmaceutical executive from Bay Village, Ohio who was tapped to oversee government efforts to reduce prescription drug costs, died on Nov. 1. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

The death of Dan Best, the Department of Health & Human Services Senior Advisor to the Secretary for Drug Pricing Reform, is raising eyebrows among independent pharmacy owners and industry insiders.

For the seven years prior to joining HHS, Best worked as a Corporate Vice President overseeing trade and industry relations for CVS Caremark. Best joined HHS in March of 2018, and was actively engaged in implementing the Trump administration’s goal of lowering prescription drug prices.

On October 30, 2018, Best wrote an article on the HHS web site answering questions about lowering drug prices. Best was found dead two days later. While there was little information released at the time of his death, officials have since ruled it a suicide.

Police say Best was found “unresponsive” near the garage door exit of an apartment building in Washington, D.C.’s Navy Yard neighborhood at 5:25 a.m. on Nov. 1, and was pronounced dead by medical personnel who responded to the scene.

The city’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner on Thursday said Best died from “multiple blunt force injuries”. It would not release further information.

Now, just a little more than two weeks after Best’s death, Pfizer has announced it will be raising prices in January, reversing course on a pledge they made to the Trump administration back in July.

Did Best really commit suicide? I’ve spoken with several industry insiders who don’t believe he did. The policy reversal and timing of the Pfizer price hike announcement certainly look odd. Another theory I’ve heard is he stumbled upon a massive scam involving placebos being sold as real drugs worldwide, and was going to blow the whistle.

The stakes in pharm are incredibly high at the federal level when it comes to regulation and oversight – there are literally billions upon billions of dollars in play. Over the years insiders I’ve talked to have often only half-jokingly referred to how the larger players often act like the mafia. Let’s hope that isn’t the case here, but if it is, I pray for justice for Best and his family.

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