HHS Nominee Talks Tough Against Pharma’s Profit Tactics, But History At Drugmaker Tells Different Story
Alex Azar, the Trump administration's pick to head the Department of Health and Human Services, is set to testify before the Senate Finance Committee this week, where it's likely his close ties to the pharmaceutical industry will take center stage with his critics.
How Trump’s HHS Nominee’s Drug Company ‘Gamed’ Patent
When Donald Trump’s nominee for HHS secretary was a top executive at Eli Lilly, the patent on its blockbuster Cialis was soon to expire. So Lilly tested it on kids. The drugmaker believed the erectile dysfunction drug might help a rare and deadly muscle-wasting disease that afflicts boys. The drug didn’t work — but under a law that promotes pediatric research, Lilly was able to extend the Cialis patent anyway for six months — and that’s worth a lot when a medication brings in over $2 billion a year. (Karlin-Smith, 1/8)
Senate Finance Committee Set To Hear From HHS Nominee; Health Committee To Focus On Opioid Crisis
More than six weeks after his nomination, HHS Secretary-designate Alex Azar will receive his official confirmation hearing with the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday morning. The Jan. 9 hearing follows his Nov. 29 courtesy hearing with the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. It falls to the Finance Committee, however, to hold the actual vote to advance Azar's nomination to the Senate floor. President Donald Trump also had to renominate Azar because the original nomination expired at the end of 2017. In the flurry of end-of-year business that included passage of the GOP's tax overhaul and negotiations on a short-term spending bill, the Finance Committee punted its proceedings to the new year. (Luthi, 1/6)
HHS Political Appointees’ Résumés Show Ties to Price, Pence
Political appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services include at least 16 staffers with ties to former Secretary Tom Price and at least 12 with connections to Vice President Mike Pence or Indiana, a review of 129 résumés of appointed staffers in the department shows. Pence’s influence over the agency can be seen in the appointment of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma, who worked closely with the former Indiana governor to expand Medicaid in that state, and the appointment of Verma’s deputy Brian Neale, who currently oversees Medicaid and served as Pence’s health care policy director in Indiana. A number of staffers also have ties to conservative groups close to Pence, such as the Heritage Foundation and anti-abortion organizations. (Clason, 1/8)