President Trump before nominating Azar: “I have directed my Administration to make fixing the injustice of high drug prices one of our top priorities. Prices will come down.”

Since Azar confirmed: More Big Pharma price increases, prescription drug costs continue to rise, no meaningful action to reduce costs for patients

The Azar boom: Former employer Eli Lilly stock up 62% since he was confirmed, now at record highs; Dow Jones pharmaceutical index up 20%

Anniversary present from the boss: “Trump berates Azar over bad health care polling,” “White House officials drew up a shortlist of potential replacements for …Secretary Alex Azar”

FLASHBACK: Azar received $1,600,000 in severance from Eli Lilly and made as much as $1 million in capital gains from Eli Lilly stock.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Patients Over Pharma released the following statement on the two-year anniversary of Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar’s confirmation by the Senate. In the two years that he’s been on the job, Secretary Azar, a former top executive at the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, has filled his department with fellow Big Pharma allies and has made no meaningful progress toward reducing the cost of prescription drugs for patients.

“Big Pharma is certainly celebrating Sec. Azar’s two-year anniversary but patients across the country are still waiting for the prescription drug cost relief that President Trump promised them,” said Eli Zupnick, spokesman for Patients Over Pharma.

“Two years of Sec. Azar has led to massive profits and stock buybacks for the pharmaceutical industry, continued price increases for patients and families, and nothing but resistance and roadblocks to the House-passed Lower Drug Costs Now Act.

“If President Trump is considering any new prescription drug promises in the upcoming State of the Union after breaking his old ones year after year, he should start by committing to fire Sec. Azar and nominate someone who will put patients ahead of Big Pharma.”

Background: Why it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Alex Azar hasn’t brought down the cost of prescription drugs in his two years as HHS Secretary

From 2007 to 2017, Azar worked for pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly. Rising up the ranks, Azar became president of Lilly USA, the largest division of Eli Lilly, in 2012, a position he held until resigning in January of 2017.

Eli Lilly Raised Drug Prices Repeatedly During Azar’s Tenure

  • During Azar’s tenure at Eli Lilly, the company repeatedly raised prices for nearly all of its drugs, including dramatic increases of some of its most popular drugs.

  • Eli Lilly had six drugs on the list of drugs that had seen the highest percentage price increase from 2007 and 2014, while Azar was at the company.

  • Over a seven-year period that included Azar’s tenure, three Eli Lilly drugs increased in price by 200-400%.

  • In 2016, Eli Lilly reported to investors that it raised prices on all its drugs by an average of 14 percent across the board. In 2015, prices rose by 16.3% across the board. In 2014, prices rose by 11.8% across the board. In 2013, price rose by 15% across the board. In 2012, prices increased by 12.8% across the board.

  • Drugs for everything from osteoporosis to attention deficit disorder doubled during Azar’s tenure.

  • 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.

  • Under Azar, Eli Lilly released a new lung cancer drug that would prolong the life of patients with terminal cancer. It cost $10,000 a month. Another cancer drug, Cryamza, cost $50,000 per treatment course. Yet another drug for colorectal cancer costs $30,000 for a seven-week course of therapy.During the 10 year period that Azar worked at the company, it doubled the cost of Cymbalta, a drug for depression.

  • The cost of hypertension drug Adcirca increased by 70 percent from 2012-2015 and by nearly 25% in 2015 alone.

  • Not surprisingly, Azar refused to answer whether he ever lowered the cost of a prescription drug during his tenure at Eli Lilly.

  • Azar defended the pricing practices at Eli Lilly during his tenure.

Prices for Diabetes Medication Soared Under Azar, Resulted in Ongoing Investigation & Class Action Lawsuit for Price Fixing

  • During Azar’s tenure, Eli Lilly increased the cost of Diabetes medication Humalog by 345 percent.

  • Eli Lilly increased the price of insulin by 450% above inflation while Azar was at the company.

  • Attorneys general in several states are reportedly investigating insulin drug pricing by Eli Lilly including charges of price fixing that would have occurred during Azar’s tenure.

  • Eli Lilly is named as a defendant in a class action lawsuit alleging price fixing during Azar’s tenure.

Azar Acknowledged that Drug Prices Were Too High, But Blamed Everyone Else

  • Azar has repeatedly acknowledged that drug prices are too high.

  • Azar blamed insurance companies, not drug companies, for high drug prices. He claimed the high list prices that drug companies used were meant for insurance companies but increasing those companies were not passing on rebate savings to consumers.

  • Azar appeared to blame the Affordable Care Act for high drug prices, saying that the disruption of the insurance industry have caused skyrocketing prices.

  • Azar repeatedly blamed an “outdated system” of how patients pay for prescription drugs for high drug prices rather than drug companies, who he said were merely “reacting to the system.” Instead, he placed the blame on insurance companies and pharmacy managers.

  • Azar claimed that too much focus on the costs of drugs would harm innovation.

  • Azar claimed drug companies weren’t the ones who primarily benefited from high drug prices.

During His Time as A Pharma Executive, Azar Opposed Meaningful Action to Reduce Drug Prices

  • Azar opposed price controls and called them “superficially appealing.”

  • Under Azar, Eli Lilly opposed pricing transparency and aggressively defended patents, which kept drug prices high.

  • Prior to his appointment, Azar doubted whether the Trump administration would follow through on actions to lower drug costs.

  • Azar opposed drug reimportation.

  • Azar’s plan to lower drug prices has consistently been to reduce regulation on the Pharma industry to bring more drugs to market with less FDA oversight.


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