Back in October, Donald “I’m Gonna to Drain the Swamp” Trump used his favorite metaphor, stating that “Drug companies, frankly, are getting away with murder.” Pointing out the obvious, he added, “Pharma has a lot of lobbies and a lot of lobbyists and a lot of power.” Then, keeping with the rank, self-serving hypocrisy that has become his trademark, Trump went on to nominate a pharmaceutical insider to head the Department of Health and Human Services.
Meet former Eli Lilly executive Alex Azar. If you are an insulin-dependent diabetic, you have reason to hate this miserable excuse for a human being. Under Azar’s watch, Eli Lilly USA increased the price of life-saving insulin by a whopping 200%. He was also vice-president of the company’s Managed Care Services division when it was forced to pay out over $1.4 billion to settle criminal charges over illegal off-label marketing for the drug Evista (raloxifene), a drug used to prevent osteoporosis in post-menopausal women. When Azar left Ely Lilly last January, he received a severance package totaling $1.6 million – and a few months later, sold his stock in the company for another $1 million.
Trump’s choice to lead the HHS is so egregious that even arch-libertarian conservative GOP Senator Rand Paul had serious doubts during confirmation hearings. He told Azar, “You’ve got some convincing to make me believe that you’re going to represent the American people and not Big Pharma…we all have our doubts, because Big Pharma manipulates the system to keep prices high.”
When questioned about reimportation of cheaper drugs from abroad, Azar offered the same tired old excuse that Big Pharma has been foisting on the American people for years – claiming such medications would not be “reliable and safe.” In response, Senator Paul retorted, “That’s B.S., and the American people think it’s B.S.” Indeed it is; several studies as well as reputable medical scientists have proven there is no basis from this claim.
When grilled by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WS) about the price gouging on insulin during his tenure at Eli Lilly, Azar hemmed and hawed and blamed “the System.”
Azar thinks because he knows “how the money flows,” this makes him qualified to address the problem of skyrocketing drug prices and Big Pharma’s psychopathic greed. Yet, he continues to stand fast against allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices (favored by over 90% of Americans across the political spectrum) and the reimportation of drugs from abroad (supported by 72%).
Given how Mr. “I’m Gonna Drain the Swamp” has gone out of his way to stack his so-called “Administration” with swamp dwelling, blood-sucking plutocrats at every turn, it should come as no surprise that he would nominate someone who has profited so handsomely from an industry he would presume to hold accountable. Azar presents himself as someone opposed to Big Pharma’s larcenous pricing practices, but has we have learned to our collective chagrin this year, Trump and the oligarchs with whom he has surrounded himself will say and do anything for the opportunity to line their pockets by stealing from the rest of us.