Despite the fact that President Trump’s new Health and Human Services secretary nominee, Alex Azar, has some experience in public service, pertinent questions about his ties to the pharmaceutical industry are already beginning to surface. Specifically, this involves the decade that the former George W. Bush appointee spent working for Eli Lilly, which manufactures the popular Humalog insulin. Why? Because from the time Azar joined the company in 2007 to his departure in 2017, when he was president of its American division, the company more than tripled Humalog’s price.
According to The Nation, the global company “raised the prices on its insulins in the United States by 20.8 percent in 2014, 16.9 percent in 2015, and 7.5 percent in 2016” during Azar’s tenure. Amazingly, Humalog insulin is “off-patent,” which means it is no longer bound by the patent protections and restrictions Eli Lilly formerly maintained. Even so, with Azar’s guidance, the company has successfully navigated the complicated (and often corrupt) landscape of health politics and lobbying in America. As a result, people died:
In fact, price gouging from Eli Lilly and other insulin manufacturers has already had deadly consequences. Shane Patrick Boyle, a founder of Zine Fest Houston, died on March 18 after his GoFundMe campaign to pay for insulin came up $50 short. Alec Raeshawn Smith, age 26, was found dead in his apartment on June 27. He was rationing his insulin after he aged out of his parent’s insurance coverage.
While The Nation’s report doesn’t offer any evidence indicating Azar was directly responsible for Humalog’s price gouging, the company’s activities during his time there are “currently under investigation by multiple state attorneys general for price fixing.” What’s more, Eli Lilly is named in a class-action lawsuit alleging “it colluded with Novo Nordisk and Sanofi to keep the prices in the U.S. insulin market rising.” So whenever the Senate gets around to setting a date for Azar’s confirmation hearing, questions about insulin prices will likely feature prominently.
(Via The Nation)