HHS adviser Daniel Best death ruled a suicide from “multiple blunt force injuries”
Best was found dead near an apartment garage on November 1
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled the death a suicide on Thursday
Two days before his death Best went into detail on a plan to save the government $50 billion at the expense of drug makers
The November 1 death of 49-year-old Daniel Best — a pharmaceutical executive from Bay Village who led U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — was recently declared a suicide.
Best was found “unresponsive” near a garage door exit of an apartment building in Washington, D.C.’s Navy Yard neighborhood at 5:25 a.m. and pronounced dead by medical responders on the scene.
On Thursday, the city’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled the death a suicide from “multiple blunt force injuries.” The examiner’s office refused to release any further information on the death. Nicholas Batalis, professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Medical University of South Carolina, stated blunt force injuries can be caused by “jumping or falling from heights.”
HHS Secretary Alex Azar said Best agreed to work for HHS “out of a desire to serve the American people by making health care more affordable.” Best was advising Azar on drug pricing.
He brought his deep expertise and passion to this task with great humility and collegiality. 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.
Best reportedly made over $500,000 a year working 12 years at Pfizer, Universal American, MemberHealth and CVS Caremark Corporation where he negotiated drug prices for seniors.
Pharmaceutical executives and former co-workers described Best as a “seasoned negotiator, a tough and unwavering advocate for patient access, and an all-around friendly guy.” However, there were concerns when Best took his position. Some worried if he would take the side of his former colleagues in the pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) world, or if he would show the public “where the bodies are buried.”
Best took his position at a time where PBMs and drug makers were viciously pointing the blame of high prescription prices on each other. PBMs claim drug makers set the price, while drug makers claim those prices are set due to the “complex rebate system.” Thanks to his former positions, Best had a firsthand view of what was going on.
Two days before his death, Best stated in a blog post from HHS that he expected to save the government $50 billion in Medicare and Medicaid expenses over the first eight years of a new model at the expense of drug makers and developed countries.
The best way to support future pharmaceutical innovation is to build a sustainable market-based system for pricing prescription drugs, and that is the goal of this proposal.
While this proposal would aim to cut drug prices in the United States, and pharmaceutical industry profits could be impacted, the pharmaceutical industry has offered no evidence for how $17 billion in savings over five years, representing less than 1 percent of pharmaceutical R&D spending during that time, could have a meaningful effect on innovation. The $17 billion also represents the upper limit for what drug companies may see in decreased revenue in the first five years, because it assumes no change in pricing contracts with other countries.
In fact, bringing more reasonable pricing to physician-administered drugs will help rebalance a distortion created by the fact that Medicare currently overpays for these drugs, while paying more competitive prices for pharmacy-dispensed drugs in Part D—using negotiation tools that industry has resisted in Part B. This may be distorting incentives and encouraging the development of drugs paid for by Part B instead of Part D.