Earlier this month, seven senators introduced legislation to slow the revolving door between federal agencies and the pharmaceutical companies that those agencies are charged with regulating.
Fast forward to yesterday, President Donald Trump officially nominates Alex Azar – former president of one of the largest #BigPharma companies in the world – to lead the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which is responsible for overseeing healthcare and federal public health programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.
Going out on a limb here, but perhaps these seven Senators are on to something regarding the inherent problems with a revolving door. How can someone with deep ties to the pharmaceutical industry – who led a company that dramatically increased prices for their drugs during his tenure – fight for patients? The short answer – he can’t, and he won’t.
Given the fact that Americans have said that lowering the high price of #pharmaceuticals should be a key priority for the Administration, drug pricing will be at the top of the agenda for the future head of HHS. President Trump’s nominee has previously stated that he believes that ‘a vigorous and profitable drug industry is not a problem to be solved.’
While patients struggle to afford their medications and experience negative and life-threatening health outcomes, #BigPharma has become one of the most profitable industries in the country. These companies are focused on making money and since they are in the healthcare business, they do so at the expense of patients.
There are countless studies that highlight the problems caused by skyrocketing drug prices and the impact on public health spending and individual patients. When asked about the state of public health in the U.S., Azar is quoted as saying, ‘any country on earth would like to have the biopharmaceutical industry that we have here in the U.S.’
U.S. innovation is strong and flourishing, but if no one can pay for the innovative treatments and products, who benefits? It’s safe to assume that Alex Azar doesn’t have difficulty affording his medications, and this is why the revolving door continues to revolve and harm patients and public health with each turn.