Top Dem: Trump HHS pick like 'fox guarding hen house'

Top Dem: Trump HHS pick like 'fox guarding hen house'
© Greg Nash

A top House Democrat slammed President Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services for being too close to the drug industry, calling the pick a “slap in the face” to American waiting for lower drug prices.

Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsDem lawmaker calls on House to subpoena American translator from Trump-Putin meeting Hillicon Valley: Trump denies Russian meddling at presser with Putin | Republicans join in criticism of Trump | FCC chief rejects Sinclair-Tribune merger | Uber faces probe over gender discrimination | Social media execs headed to Capitol Overnight Energy: Koch backs bill opposing carbon taxes | Lawmakers look to Interior budget to block offshore drilling | EPA defends FOIA process MORE (D-Md.) on Monday questioned Trump's decision to nominate Alex Azar, a former executive at Eli Lilly and their top lobbyist, to run HHS. Cummings is the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee.

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“POTUS said PHRMA has been 'getting away with murder,' so why is he nominating a former #EliLilly drug exec to lead HHS?” Cummings tweeted.

 

Lily makes several major brand name drugs, including Cialis, which treats erectile dysfunction; Cymbalta, an antidepressant; and different types of insulin. The price of insulin in particular has spiked dramatically in recent years, even though it is not a new drug.

As recently as Oct. 16, the president repeated the line that pharmaceutical companies are “getting away with murder” and promised to bring prices “way down.” But despite the rhetoric, Trump has not acted on most of the drug pricing promises he made during the election.

The nomination of a former industry leader further breaks his campaign promise to “drain the swamp,” Cummings said.

“Picking former drug exec to lead HHS is like a fox guarding the hen house,” the lawmaker tweeted. “This is a slap in the face to millions of Americans who are waiting on POTUS to take action to lower drug prices.”

Cummings met with Trump in March to discuss legislation to let Medicare negotiate drug prices, something that Trump promised to do during the campaign.

Then the GOP’s months-long effort to repeal ObamaCare kicked into high gear, and Cummings said he never heard back from the president.

Cummings and several high-profile Democrats in the House and Senate recently introduced legislation to allow Medicare to negotiate prices and said they are frustrated the measure hasn’t received a full-throated endorsement from Trump.