“One of my greatest priorities is to reduce the price of prescription drugs,” President Trump said at his 2018 State of the Union address on Tuesday evening.
In reality, this does not seem to be one of his biggest policy priorities — especially considering that just last week, Trump appointed former pharmaceutical executive Alex Azar as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Azar served as president of Lilly USA, the largest affiliate of the drug maker Eli Lilly and Company from 2012 until about the time Trump took office. Under his watch, Eli Lilly tripled the price of insulin and raised the cost of many of its other drugs that treat conditions including diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, and ADHD.
During a hearing in November, Azar blamed the high cost of drugs on the “system,” including insurance companies and drug distributors, and not the pharmaceutical industry. He also defended the industry’s position that there would be no difference in price if the provision in the law were removed prohibiting the federal government from negotiating for lower prices.