[Ip-health] Azar backs pharma over people

Peter Maybarduk maybarduk at gmail.com
Tue Jan 9 11:36:27 PST 2018

Statement of Peter Maybarduk, Director, Public Citizen’s Access to
Medicines Program

Jan. 9, 2018

Contact: Nadia Prupis, nprupis at citizen.org, (202) 588-7779
Don Owens, dowens at citizen.org, (202) 588-7767

* Note: Today the U.S. Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on the
nomination of former Lilly USA president Alex Azar to serve as secretary of
Health and Human Services (HHS). Last week, 60 organizations signed a
letter to all U.S. senators opposing Azar’s nomination:*

We need an HHS secretary who will challenge pharmaceutical corporations,
not one who works this hard to explain away pharma’s responsibility for
high costs.

Pharma corporations set outrageously high new medicine launch prices from
which all subsequent gouging proceeds. The country’s top health official
must count standing up to this corporate abuse a top priority of the job.
That is what most Americans want.

In this job interview about returning to public service, Azar backed the
pharma corporations’ perspective:

• Azar said granting HHS Medicare Part D negotiation powers, which the
pharmaceutical industry crippled through its lobbying might, would not save
money. But a Public Citizen analysis found that Medicare negotiation could
save $16 billion per year.

            o Azar papered over ways HHS could leverage its negotiating
power, including formularies and fallback pricing, as well as the market
signaling and political effects of the government exercising its existing
authority to allow generic competition when corporations price gouge
consumers, to deliver this conclusion.

• Azar said that Lilly revenues remained flat even as insulin prices
increased. This is not true:

            o For Lilly’s insulin product Humalog (U.S. only revenues, in
               o 2007   $888.0
               o 2012   $1370.9
               o 2016   $1685.2

            o For Lilly’s insulin product Humalin (U.S. only revenues, in
               o 2007   $365.2
               o 2012   $592.1
               o 2016   $861.8

Azar is well-equipped to rationalize and obscure pharmaceutical corporation
responsibility for making medications unaffordable. But the public knows
better, and so should the U.S. Senate.


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