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Alex Azar is the Wrong Pick to Lead HHS

Last month, I published an op-ed in The Guardian in opposition to Alex Azar for Secretary of Health and Human Services. In advance of the Senate Finance Committee Hearing tomorrow over his nomination, I’m publishing my article in its entirety below. 

Recently, the president announced Alex Azar as his nominee to lead the US Department of Health and Human Services, saying: “He will be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices!” People like me – experts in drug policy and advocates for lowering drug costs for American patients – know that nothing could be farther from the truth.

On average, Americans pay twice as much for life-saving drugs as consumers in other developed countries. It doesn’t have to be this way, but unfortunately, Azar might think so.

On Wednesday, Azar appeared before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee. While he stated his commitment to lowering drug prices, he declined to support the two solutions that would have the greatest impact on patients. In fact, he and his company have vigorously opposed policies that would make healthcare more affordable for the rest of us. (more…)

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Opposing Alex Azar’s Nomination to HHS in The Guardian

Alex Azar, Eli Lilly

Alex Azar and Eli Lilly have opposed policies that would make healthcare more affordable for Americans. Photo: Michael Reynolds/EPA

As I wrote a few weeks back on these blog pages, President Trump’s nomination of Alex Azar to lead the Department of Health and Human Services will help Big Pharma continue to get away with murder; something the president says he opposes. Mr. Azar just left Eli Lilly USA earlier this year as its president. Under his tenure with Lilly, Azar vehemently opposed importing lower-cost medications from Canada among other polices to tackle high drug prices.

In my capacity as founder of Prescription Justice, I published an op-ed in The Guardian called “Alex Azar is big pharma personified. He must not become US health secretary.” A Big Pharma executive is not the right pick to get this country moving on lowering drug prices. I’m just saying…

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Eli Lilly’s and Alex Azar’s Position on Importation is a Canard

Alex AzarThis week, President Trump potentially handed Big Pharma one of its greatest victories by appointing Alex Azar the new Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). Why? Until earlier this year, Alex Azar was the president of Eli Lilly USA and few people (companies are people?) on earth personify Big Pharma like Eli Lilly.

This matters to Americans who import lower cost medication to fill prescriptions because the FDA is an agency housed in HHS, and HHS has a lot of statutory power when it comes to importation of prescription drugs.

President Trump campaigned on making it legal for Americans to buy lower-cost medications from other countries, but Eli Lilly and Alex Azar are leading opponents of safe importation. In fact, Eli Lilly is perhaps the leader when it comes to hatching, or funding, strategic communications and lobbying campaigns to stop Americans from using safe, international online pharmacies. Its efforts through the non-profit group, Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies—FUNDED BY ELI LILLY—have been frighteningly successful at fooling our elected officials and the public that international online pharmacies are inherently bad for Americans. They do so by conflating counterfeit drugs and even fentanyl abuse with safe international online pharmacies. As I see it, Eli Lilly’s narrative on online pharmacy and importation incorporates the most sinister aspects of fake news. Really. (more…)

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