RPT Calls for New Leadership to Lower Drug Prices On One Year Anniversary of Azar Taking Office

On the same day of Alex Azar’s one-year anniversary as HHS head, Pfizer announced plans for $9 billion in new stock buybacks

On the same day that Pfizer announced plans for $9 billion in new stock buybacks, Secretary Alex Azar’s spokesperson put out a statement on his one-year anniversary of taking office, claiming that one of Azar’s highest priorities over the next year is lowering drug costs. But we already know that drug prices have increased under Azar’s watch. A recent report from Restore Public Trust exposes the long record of high drug prices during Azar’s tenure at Eli Lilly, including for diabetes and cancer patients.

“A pharmaceutical company insider and former executive at Eli Lilly, Alex Azar’s actions have done little to keep down the price of prescription drugs. In fact, under his watch, we’ve seen the opposite,” said Caroline Ciccone, Executive Director of Restore Public Trust. “Prices on hundreds of drugs are skyrocketing, and drug companies have announced stock buybacks and other ways to reward their investors.”

“Drug company executives and investors are doing just fine, but American families are being crushed by the price of prescription drugs. Americans need real leadership at HHS to solve this critical problem, and they aren’t getting it from someone who has depended on a drug company for a fat paycheck.”

As a drug company executive, Azar opposed action to reduce drug prices, ensuring prices stayed high. During his tenure, Eli Lilly raised drug prices repeatedly. Drugs including insulin for diabetes patients skyrocketed, resulting in an investigation and class action lawsuit against Eli Lilly for alleged price fixing. Meanwhile, Azar passed the blame onto insurance companies and others for price increases.

Read more from the report here.

BACKGROUND

JANUARY 2018: AT AZAR’S SWEARING-IN CEREMONY, AZAR PROMISED TO LOWER PRESCRIPTION DRUG PRICES

At Azar’s Swearing In Ceremony, Trump Claimed He And Azar Would “Get Those Prescription Drug Prices Way Down” And “Be Very Tough On The Drug Companies In That Regard.” TRUMP: “He’s going to get those prescription drug prices way down as a little bit of an extra, right?  It’s going to come rocketing down. […] I think we’re going to be very tough on the drug companies in that regard and very tough on doctors in that regard, because what’s going on is pretty incredible.” [White House – Remarks by President Trump at Swearing-In Ceremony of Alex Azar, 1/29/18]

At Azar’s Swearing In Ceremony, Azar Pledged: “We Will Bring Down Prescription Drug Prices.” AZAR: “I know this team, and the deep commitment that they have to the mission of HHS to enhance and protect the wellbeing and health of all Americans. That is a solemn charge.  It is a charge that I am committed to.  And as you heard from the President today, it is a charge that includes his personal direction to me that we have to tackle the scourge of the opiate crisis, and we will bring down prescription drug prices.” [White House – Remarks by President Trump at Swearing-In Ceremony of Alex Azar, 1/29/18]

JANUARY 2019: PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES WERE REPORTEDLY RAISING THE PRICES OF HUNDREDS OF DRUGS

Wall Street Journal: “Pharmaceutical Companies Are Ringing In The New Year By Raising The Price Of Hundreds Of Drugs.” “Pharmaceutical companies are ringing in the new year by raising the price of hundreds of drugs, with Allergan AGN +0.44% PLC setting the pace with increases of nearly 10% on more than two dozen products, according to a new analysis. Many companies’ increases are relatively modest this year, amid growing public and political pressure on the industry over prices. Yet a few are particularly high, including on some generics, the cheaper alternative to branded accounting for nine out of 10 prescriptions filled in the U.S. Overall, price increases, including recently restored price increases from Pfizer Inc., PFE -1.43% continue to exceed inflation.” [Wall Street Journal, 1/1/19]

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Press Release

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