Trump’s HHS secretary nominee boosted drug prices while at Eli Lilly

President Donald Trump tweeted Monday that his nominee for HHS secretary, Alex Azar will “be a star for … lower drug prices!” But the record of the former top executive for Eli Lilly, which tripled the price of a top-selling insulin drug while he led its U.S. operation, suggests a different story.

Lilly is one of three drug companies targeted by a class-action lawsuit that accuses the company, then under Azar’s watch, of exploiting the drug pricing system to ensure higher profit for insulin and has been fined in Mexico for colluding on the pricing of the drug.

Azar, who spent almost a decade at Eli Lilly, rising to become president of the drug giant’s U.S. operations before leaving earlier this year, doesn’t deny drug costs are a consumer issue. But his record there and as a top official in George W. Bush’s administration suggests he’s unlikely Continue reading “Trump’s HHS secretary nominee boosted drug prices while at Eli Lilly”

Trump picks ex-pharma executive Azar to lead HHS

President Donald Trump on Monday nominated former pharmaceutical executive Alex Azar to be his next Health and Human Services secretary, moving to stabilize the agency at the center of his administration’s biggest domestic policy failure.

Azar, a veteran of George W. Bush’s administration, would succeed Tom Price, who resigned after POLITICO reported he spent roughly $1 million on private and government air travel in just seven months on the job.

"He will be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices!" Trump tweeted from the Philippines this morning.

If confirmed, the 50-year-old Azar would be thrust onto the front lines of a White House agenda that includes repealing Obamacare, reining in drug prices and rolling back regulations — goals that have remained largely unfulfilled since Trump took office.

The Trump administration is wagering Azar has the policy and political chops to get those priorities back on track, and Continue reading “Trump picks ex-pharma executive Azar to lead HHS”

Trump opioid panel ducks question of new money

President Donald Trump’s opioid commission will call Wednesday for big boosts in substance abuse treatment programs but stop short of asking for new funding that federal and state officials say is critical to pay for such programs.

The commission, led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, will recommend the Trump administration increase access to addiction treatment and recovery programs, expand the availability of medication-assisted therapies and expand first responders’ ability to administer the life-saving overdose reversal drug, naloxone, according to a draft of the commission’s final report obtained by POLITICO.

But the draft recommendations don’t include asking Congress to appropriate new dollars to tackle the crisis.

The commission’s final meeting and report come just one week after Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency — a move seen as a largely symbolic gesture that provided no new funding.

Administration officials have characterized the declaration as a jumping off Continue reading “Trump opioid panel ducks question of new money”

Trump vows to ‘liberate’ Americans from ‘scourge of drug addiction’

President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency Thursday and touted "really tough, really big, really great advertising" against drug use. But despite his August vow to spend "a lot of money” to combat it, he did not pump additional funds into an epidemic that has ravaged communities and claimed tens of thousands of lives.

Trump said he would swiftly "review and evaluate" recommendations due next week from his opioid commission and promised to fight illegal drug shipments from countries like China. But the declaration disappointed state officials and public health experts who say a lot more money is needed to respond to a deadly epidemic that is outpacing efforts to contain it. Policies, they said, won’t accomplish much without substantial investments behind them.

“People are dying," said Andrew Kolodny, executive director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing. "We have people dying of overdoses on waiting lists Continue reading “Trump vows to ‘liberate’ Americans from ‘scourge of drug addiction’”

Trump opioid declaration falls short, say state officials

President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency and touted a big public advertising campaign against drug use. But he did not pump additional money into an epidemic that has ravaged communities and claimed thousands of lives.

Trump said he would act swiftly to "review and evaluate" recommendations due next week from his opioid commission, and promised to address illegal drug shipments from countries like China. But the declaration disappointed state officials and public health experts who say a lot more money is needed for a deadly epidemic that is outpacing efforts to contain it.

“People are dying," said Andrew Kolodny, executive director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing. "We have people dying of overdoses on waiting lists for an effective treatment.”

Senior administration officials told reporters that acting HHS Secretary Eric Hargan will sign the declaration on Thursday. That will allow public health agencies to Continue reading “Trump opioid declaration falls short, say state officials”

Libertarians score big victory in ‘right-to-try’ drug bill

The Senate unanimously approved a bill Thursday that would allow people facing life-threatening diseases access to unapproved experimental drugs, providing a victory for libertarian advocates who see government regulators thwarting patients’ rights.

The bill, S. 204 (115), passed swiftly and easily in a Senate bitterly divided over health care. The powerful pharmaceutical lobby, which had quietly opposed an earlier version, kept an unusually low profile. The industry has been focused on fighting off any efforts to go after drug pricing, which President Donald Trump has said he would tackle.

The bill’s chief champion, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), declared it a victory for individual liberty over government, and for “the right to hope.” It’s also been championed by the libertarian Goldwater Institute, and Vice President Mike Pence, who tweeted that it gives patients “hope & a chance.”

The legislation would allow patients with serious diseases — anything from Continue reading “Libertarians score big victory in ‘right-to-try’ drug bill”

Senate GOP’s new health care bill expected to include controversial Cruz amendment

The Senate Republicans’ draft Obamacare repeal bill due to be released on Thursday will tentatively include a controversial amendment from Ted Cruz, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will unveil the bill on Thursday morning at a closed-door, members-only meeting. It is also expected to eliminate tax cuts for the wealthy, include new financial support for low-income people’s insurance, allow people to pay for insurance with pre-tax money, and include billions more to fight opioid addiction.

Utah Sen. Mike Lee was advocating for the amendment with Cruz. But he is not yet supportive of the latest version because he’s unaware of its content, a spokesman for Lee said.

The amendment from Cruz will be tentatively included, those sources said, and could be altered or removed later. The amendment would allow the sale of cheap, deregulated insurance plans as long as Obamacare-compliant plans are still Continue reading “Senate GOP’s new health care bill expected to include controversial Cruz amendment”