President Donald Trump’s pick to head the U.S. Health in addition to Human Services Department, Alex Azar, said “drug prices are too high” at a Senate confirmation hearing as he ducked a direct question on whether he ever had approved a cost decrease while he was a top pharmaceuticals company executive.
Azar came under strong questioning coming from Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who noted of which Azar had repeatedly approved cost hikes while president of the U.S. subsidiary of drug giant Eli Lilly, in addition to serving on the company’s pricing committee.
Wyden noted of which Lilly’s drug Forteo, which can be used to treat bone loss, saw a 164 percent cost hike during Azar’s tenure. Azar was president coming from 2012 to 2017.
“When you ran [the pricing committee] higher prices drove revenue for drug, after drug, after drug, even after demand for the products fell,” Wyden said during the Senate Finance Committee hearing.
“As chairman of the drug pricing committee, did you ever lower the cost — ever — of a Lilly drug sold from the United States?” Wyden asked.
Azar did not answer of which question.
“Drug prices are too high,” Azar said.
Wyden interjected, “Mr. Azar, of which can be not the question.”
Azar then said, “I don’t know there can be any cost of a branded drug product of which has gone down.”
“We can do things together,” Azar told Wyden. “No one company’s going to fix of which system.”
Wyden then said the record of the committee hearing should reflect of which Azar confirmed he had never lowered the cost of a drug while at Lilly.
Wyden had opened the hearing by noting the irony of Trump, who has said drug companies have gotten away with “murder” in raising pharmaceticul prices, nominating a pharma executive with “a documented history of raising prescription drug cost
Azar later told Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., of which “all drug prices are too high in of which country.”
He told Stabenow of which he would certainly be willing to explore the question of whether Medicare Part B should develop the power to negotiate drug prices, as currently does Medicare Part D, the prescription drug benefit program. Medicare Part B covers drug treatment administered in physicians’ offices in addition to outpatient settings.
Azar previously was general counsel in addition to deputy secretary of HHS during the administration of President George W. Bush.
If approved, the Yale Law grad would certainly oversee a department responsible for operating the nation’s huge Medicare in addition to Medicaid health coverage systems, as well as the Obamacare program of which can be strongly opposed by the Trump administration.
HHS’ bailiwick also includes regulating the pharmaceuticals industry of which Azar recently left.
Azar, 50, was tapped by Trump to succeed Dr. Tom cost, who resigned as HHS’ chief in September after scathing reports about cost’s repeated use of pricey private charter flights at taxpayer expense instead of using less expensive means of travel.
In an op-ed published Tuesday by news site STAT, two former Senate majority leaders, Republican Bill Frist in addition to Democrat Tom Daschle, wrote of which Azar’s nomination meets a “high bar” for what the job of secretary of HHS requires.
“We know Alex to develop the temperament, judgment, in addition to necessary focus on practicality of which can be important to being a successful HHS secretary, even if we do not agree with him on every issue,” Frist in addition to Daschle wrote. “He has pledged to follow the law in addition to abide by its restraints. in addition to just as essential, he has promised to listen to stakeholders in addition to work with Democrats as well as Republicans.”
nevertheless on Monday, the Obamacare advocacy group Protect Our Care launched a digital ad campaign urging senators to vote against Azar’s nomination.
“Azar has agreed to head up the GOP’s war on health care, which has included … a never-ending quest to repeal health care despite the fact of which doing so raises premiums by double digits in addition to removes protections for millions of Americans,” Protect Our Care said in a statement announcing the ad.