Former Eli Lilly executive Alex Azar says he wants to focus on lowering drug prices and making healthcare more affordable if confirmed as Health and Human Services Secretary.
Azar fielded questions from a Senate committee during a confirmation hearing Thursday. He says increasing the availability of generic drugs could make prescriptions more affordable.
“Why are Americans paying more than those in Europe and Japan? And is that fair that we are bearing the cost?” he says.
But Democratic Senator Patty Murray of Washington questioned Azar’s motivations. Murray says drug prices did not drop while Azar was at Eli Lily. In fact, the price of insulin increased.
“The fox guarding the hen house is what I hear so there’s a lot of skepticism that you will do it from within the agency when you stated before you don’t believe the government should be part of the problem. Although you just said something different,” Murray says.
Azar did win support from Republican Senators because of his strategy to tackle the opioid epidemic.
The committee issued four letters of support for Azar. It will hold another hearing before deciding whether to send the nomination to the full Senate.