Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar fired back Friday at drugmakers who labeled him as “un-American” for his new drug price proposal, describing industry resistance as the reason for high U.S. prices.

"Something has to change in how Medicare pays for physician-administered drugs,” Azar said at the Brookings Institution. “The only thing standing in the way is the one special interest that has benefited from this program far out of proportion to any other actor, for the last 15 years: The pharmaceutical industry.”

The proposal would, over five years, tie drug prices paid by Medicare for a majority of physician-administered drugs to the prices paid by other wealthy countries, such as France, Germany, and Japan.

Right now, the administration is asking for comments on the proposal and hopes to put out a proposed rule in spring 2019.

Currently, Medicare has no power over the price it pays for drugs covered under Part B, which are drugs administered in doctors' offices, like vaccines or chemotherapies. Azar cited an HHS report that found Medicare pays 180 percent of what other wealthy countries pay for the 27 most expensive drugs covered under Part B.

“For some drugs, the price differences are even greater. Sometimes, we’re not just paying 180 percent but 300 or even 500 percent of what other countries pay,” Azar said. “This is a symptom of a completely broken system.”

Azar said that over the next “five years, under this model, we will go from paying 180 percent of what other countries pay for these drugs to 126 percent of what they pay.”

The pharmaceutical industry came out swinging against the proposal, with the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America calling it placing foreign price controls from “countries with socialized healthcare systems that deny their citizens access and discourage innovation.”

But Azar defended the proposal, saying that it won’t affect innovation.

“Our model will save $17 billion in Medicare drug spending over the next five years,” he said. “That’s $3.4 billion a year.”

But he said the pharmaceutical industry has said the industry as a whole devotes $70 billion a year to R&D.

“These savings, while substantial for American patients and taxpayers, cannot possibly pull out more than 1 percent of R&D,” he said.