Prices and Profits Soar, But Secretary Azar Attempts to Gaslight Americans On Drug Prices

Secretary Azar’s 2018 Annual Report Ignores the Facts: Trump Administration Is Paying Lip Service While Failing to Adequately Lower Drug Prices

WASHINGTON — Today, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar gave a speech where he distorted the truth and overstated the work his department has done to lower the cost of prescription drugs. The 2018 Annual Report, released by the agency this morning, is full of bold claims about Secretary Azar’s plans to bring drug prices down. But during Secretary Azar’s tenure, the costs of prescription drugs have soared, while his friends at big pharmaceutical companies continue to grow their influence over Americans.

“Secretary Azar is pulling a page from Trump’s playbook – gaslighting Americans into thinking the cost of all of their prescription drugs are actually going down,” said Restore Public Trust Spokeswoman Lizzy Price. “Secretary Azar is a friend to his former colleagues in the pharmaceutical industry and the influence of big pharma companies during his tenure proves it. Secretary Azar’s speech this morning was a rouge for what is really going on here. Azar and the Trump Administration are in the pocket of big pharma while many Americans are spending more of their paychecks to cover rising drug costs.”

Azar questioned the Trump administration’s ability to lower drug prices before he was tapped to carry out its plan. Now, more than a year into his job, drug prices are soaring. Last year, Pfizer announced plans to hike prices on 41 of its drugs while AbbVie announced a proposal to buy back $5 billion in stocks.

Azar’s history only further underscores his credibility when it comes to helping real people cope with the rising prices of their prescriptions. During Azar’s tenure at Eli Lilly, drug prices were repeatedly raised. Insulin prices for diabetes patients skyrocketed, resulting in an investigation and class action lawsuit for price fixing. As a drug company executive, Azar opposed action to reduce drug prices, ensuring prices stayed high.

A recent report from Restore Public Trust found:

  • Over a seven-year period that included Azar’s tenure, three Eli Lilly drugs increased in price by 200-400%.
  • Forteo, a drug for osteoporosis, rose by 68% between 2012 and 2015 alone. It was the single highest retail price increase for a specialty drug of its kind according to the AARP.
  • During Azar’s tenure, Eli Lilly increased the cost of diabetes medication Humalog by 345%.
  • Eli Lilly increased the price of insulin by 450% above inflation while Azar was at the company.


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