Last week, Gabriel Levitt, founder of Prescription Justice, published an Op-Ed in The Guardian about Alex Azar, President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Mr. Levitt’s Op-Ed, Alex Azar is big pharma personified. He must not become US health secretary, underscores the urgent need for members of Congress to oppose Azar’s confirmation.
Until the beginning of this year, Mr. Azar spent 10 years as a pharmaceutical industry executive, a point of contention for policy experts and advocates who question his ability to stand up to the very industry he once represented. During his tenure as President of Eli Lilly, the company more than tripled the price of insulin for diabetics and has since been sanctioned for its price-gouging practices.
During testimony before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP) Committee, Mr. Azar stated that lowering drug prices would be top priority as Secretary of HHS. Yet, Mr. Azar failed to support two commonsense policy solutions that could vastly ease the drug affordability crisis: ending the ban on Medicare drug price negotiations and allowing importation of lower-cost, safe and effective prescription drugs from other countries.
The Secretary of HHS should be an advocate for the American public, not a former pharmaceutical executive with a record of putting corporate greed over patient’s health.