Block Pharma Exec Alex Azar as HHS Secretary
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is responsible for the Affordable Care Act, food and drug safety, medical research and public health, and is critical to the future of health insurance. The Trump administration's pick for HHS Secretary, Alex Azar, is deep in the pockets of the pharmaceutical industry. Azar was president of the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly from 2009 to January 2017. Since leaving Eli Lilly in January, Azar made $1.6 million dollars in severance pay and as much as $1 million in the sale of his Eli Lilly stock. He has received over $700,000 in various payouts from the company and raked in speaking fees of $46,500 from clients like the National Association of Specialty Pharmacy. Currently, he is a consultant who continues to profit from the industry. His consulting firm's clients include the National Pharmaceutical Council and the drug company UCB Inc. Azar has been sharply critical of the ACA and was a strong advocate for the GOP's repeal legislation, saying that the ACA was “circling the drain.” By nominating Azar, Trump is placing someone from the pharmaceutical industry in charge of the agency tasked with regulating it. Trump touts that Azar would lower drug prices and “be a star for better health care.” However, under his leadership at Lilly, the cost of their insulin product more than doubled, and he came under investigation for insulin pricing. He has also spoken in defense of the current pharmaceutical industry, saying “a vigorous and profitable drug industry is not a problem to be solved, but a goal to be encouraged.” Azar's nomination has been widely criticized, as many believe he would be nothing more than a shill for the pharmaceutical lobby. The HHS Secretary must be an advocate for the health of the American people, not the “vigor and profit” of the drug industry. Azar has shown his loyalties to the pharmaceutical industry and would be an outrageous, irresponsible choice as HHS Secretary. "