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HHS nominee vows to tackle high drug costs, despite his ties to industry

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Alex Azar II, the former president of the U.S. division of Eli Lilly and President Donald Trump's choice to run HHS, presented himself on Tuesday as a "problem solver" eager to fix a poorly structured health care system.

Alex Azar II, the former president of the U.S. division of Eli Lilly and President Donald Trump's choice to run HHS, presented himself on Tuesday as a "problem solver" eager to fix a poorly structured health care system. Azar said during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee that addressing drug costs would be among his top priorities. Democrats on the committee argued Azar was part of the problem, noting some of Eli Lilly's drug prices had doubled on Azar's watch. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), the committee's top Democrat, said Azar had never authorized a decrease in a drug price as a pharmaceutical executive. Azar responded that the nation's pharmaceutical drug system is structured to encourage companies to raise prices, a problem he said he would work to fix as head of HHS. "I don't know that there is any drug price of a brand-new product that has ever gone down from any company on any drug in the United States, because every incentive in this system is towards higher prices, and that is where we can do things together, working as the government to get at this," he said. "No one company is going to fix that system." In addition to drug costs, Azar vowed to focus on the nation's opioid crisis, calling for "aggressive prevention, education, regulatory, and enforcement efforts to stop overprescribing and overuse."

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https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/hhs-nominee-vows-to-tackle-high-drug-costs-despite-his-ties-to-industry/2018/01/09/32b682ce-f582-11e7-9af7-a50bc3300042_story.html?utm_term=.6f46d479b1a6

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