November 13, 2017 Press Releases

Statement on the Nomination of Alex Azar as HHS Secretary

WASHINGTON, DC – Patients For Affordable Drugs Executive Director, Ben Wakana, issued the following statement regarding the nomination of Alex Azar to be the 24th Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“Drug corporations have undue influence over health policy in America, and they use it to make money on the backs of patients and taxpayers. To have a former drug company executive nominated as HHS Secretary adds to our concern that this administration may continue to disappoint through its lack of action on skyrocketing drug prices.

“But actions speak louder than words. Mr. Azar is well-qualified and has the chance to stand up for patients because he knows exactly how our drug pricing system is broken. If he wants to take meaningful action to lower drug prices, we want to help him.”


  • Eli Lilly is one-third of an insulin cartel that has driven up prices by more than 300 percent.
    • NYT: “From 2010 to 2015, the price of Lantus (made by Sanofi) went up by 168 percent; the price of Levemir (made by Novo Nordisk) rose by 169 percent; and the price of Humulin R U-500 (made by Eli Lilly) soared by 325 percent.”
  • Patients are struggling with the high price of insulin.
    • Elizabeth Rowley: “I’ve lived with type 1 diabetes for 25 years. A survey conducted in 2016 by T1International concluded that US respondents spend, on average, $571.69 per month on diabetes costs. Even with insurance, many Americans are spending around half their income on insulin and other supplies they need to stay alive. This has to stop.”
    • Clayton McCook, Oklahoma: “My daughter has Type-1 diabetes. My wife is battling cancer. We are fortunate to be able to afford good insurance. But we spent $6,000 in January alone which took us to our out-of-pocket maximum. I don’t know how people without our means can afford these costs!”
  • One place to start would be to change the way Medicare Part D beneficiaries pay out of pocket so they are charged based on rebated prices, not the list price. This would provide immediate relief to people on Medicare who bear the highest burden of drug costs.


Patients For Affordable Drugs is the only independent national patient organization focused exclusively on achieving policy changes to lower the price of prescription drugs.