Tag Archives: Scott Gottlieb

Lilly Exec’s HHS Nomination Leaves Autism Problem to POTUS

Before the election, Donald Trump said of the problem that is the autism epidemic: “I’ll fix it.” He will fix it, not a surrogate.

That is all the more important to remember now that President Trump has just nominated former Lilly president Alex Azar to run HHS. Now more than ever, Trump must be held accountable for his promise.

From FiercePharma:

Ex-Eli Lilly executive Azar wins Trump’s nomination for top HHS post

by Eric Sagonowsky

President Donald Trump has picked a pharma insider to oversee the HHS. Just days after news that Trump was set to select ex-Eli Lilly executive Alex Azar for the U.S. government’s top healthcare post, he tweeted the nomination Monday morning.

Trump picked Azar for the HHS chief position above other candidates such as Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services director Seema Verma and FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, according to press reports on the selection process. Azar, who has served as an HHS deputy secretary during the George W. Bush administration and as Eli Lilly’s U.S. president, will be tasked with advancing the president’s repeal and replace push for the Affordable Care Act and ostensibly with tackling high pharmaceutical prices, an issue Trump campaigned on and has touched on during his time in the White House. But so far, critics contend the Trump Administration’s actions and proposals have only favored the industry. 


RELATED: Trump poised to nominate ex-Lilly executive Alex Azar for top HHS job: report

Trump famously said pharma is “getting away with murder,” and previously crossed party lines to endorse Medicare price negotiations. Still, drug pricing talk hasn’t gotten serious in Congress and four Congressmen wrote to the president last month to say his “inaction” on their Medicare negotiation proposal has left them with no option other than to press ahead alone.

Cowen analyst Eric Assaraf, for his part, wrote in a note seen by Business Insider that even though “Trump specifically called out lowering drug prices in his announcement of Azar, we don’t believe his appointment will mark a change in course in that realm.” After leaving Lilly as part of an executive shakeup earlier this year, Azar formed a consultancy as he explored “new leadership opportunities,” according to an online speaker profile.

Reacting to Azar’s selection, Senate Finance Committee ranking member Sen. Ron Wyden said the president “at every turn … has broken his promises to American families to lower health care costs, expand access and bring down the high price of prescription drugs.” Sen. Wyden said he’ll ask Azar to take “take decisive, meaningful action to curtail the runaway train of prescription drug costs.”

It isn’t the first time President Trump has selected an industry insider for a top government job. The president earlier this year tapped Scott Gottlieb—who was pharma’s top pick by a wide margin—for the crucial FDA commissioner post. During his time at the agency, Gottlieb has won praise for his moves to increase competition and provide relief on pricing, as well as to speed the FDA’s approval process.

Gottlieb’s name was one floated for the HHS chief position after former secretary Tom Price resigned in September, but the FDA commissioner said in a Reuters interview he felt he is “most effective” at the drug agency.

Azar’s nomination is sure to encounter more pushback. On earlier reports that the ex-Lilly executive was under consideration, Public Citizen founder Robert Weissman said if Azar wins the nod, “then Big Pharma’s coup d’etat in the healthcare sphere will be virtually complete.”

Azar has argued against drug price controls in the past, Weissman said at the time, making it “highly unlikely” he would “advance real reform” on the issue.

Eli Lilly Executive Likely To Be HHS Secretary – And No, This Is Not A Joke

Former Lilly USA President Alex Azar is likely to be appointed new HHS Secretary according to anonymous White House sources. Eli Lilly is the company that introduced thimerosal, the toxic, mercury-based vaccine preservative still used in vaccines given to children and pregnant women. It has also been proven to cause autism.

If President Trump nominates Azar for the position, it will represent a marked departure from Trump’s pre-election promises to “fix” the autism epidemic. Previously, Autism Investigated heavily protested the appointment of the current CDC director Brenda Fitzgerald. Trump also nominated Scott Gottlieb to run FDA, a major pharma shill and defender of dangerous vaccines.

Azar’s appointment would truly be a case of the revolving door coming full-circle. Before working as an executive for Eli Lilly for 10 years, Azar was deputy HHS Secretary and general counsel for HHS under the Bush Administration. Azar was at HHS when GOP Senator Bill Frist led an effort to shield Lilly from litigation while he was receiving thousands in campaign contributions.

How is it that a president who met with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. earlier this year to discuss a vaccine safety commission ends up appointing an executive from one of the biggest corporate perpetrators of vaccine injury? How is it that that same president met with Dr. Andrew Wakefield last year?

The White House had reportedly been arranging for Kennedy to meet with officials from the FDA and NIH. Not surprisingly, those agencies dismissed his concerns yet again. Does President Trump expect that having an Eli Lilly executive at the top of HHS will somehow change that? How can he take the vaccine issue seriously if he’s putting people with deep industry ties in high government positions? If Trump’s appointees are not willing to take action on this important issue, then President Trump should directly intervene.

But setting the vaccine issue aside, there is another issue with Azar running HHS: his primary support for a presidential candidate with very, very low energy.

Do Not Tap Brenda Fitzgerald to Run CDC, President Trump!

Below is an open letter from the editor to President Trump urging him to rescind any consideration to appointing Georgia health commissioner Brenda Fitzgerald to CDC director.

Dear President Trump,

I was a huge supporter of you since before the primary contests. I supported you because you were miles ahead of all the other candidates in supporting vaccine safety.

So I was very disappointed to read the following from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

President Donald Trump is expected to tap the head of the Georgia Department of Public Health as the new director of the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to two administration sources.

This is unacceptable. That same person, Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, wrote in that same paper three years ago this:

I’ve heard all the arguments against vaccination. All have been debunked, including the infamous 1980s study in Europe about a similar vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella, and a supposed link – that we now know to be false – to autism, which shattered vaccine use in Europe. 

The lead author of that “infamous” study is who you met with last summer, Dr. Andrew Wakefield. Even the journal that retracted his paper know their basis for doing so is false.

If you want a genuine vaccine safety commission as you promised Robert F. Kennedy Jr., it will not work with federal agency heads all wanting to keep the status quo. You have already appointed someone to run the FDA who has testified that he will challenge you on vaccine safety. There was no major outcry then because, unlike CDC, FDA does not dictate federal vaccine policy.

The CDC policies, by contrast, influence mandatory state vaccination policies throughout the entire country. Its chief responsibilities include the conflicting positions of safety regulation and routine promotion. A senior scientist from the CDC has since come forward with allegations that he and his colleagues manipulated and hid research results. At the time, you tweeted:

Shortly before the election, the previous CDC director blocked the whistleblower who you said was proving you right about vaccines from testifying under oath in a deposition. Yet every indication suggests that the person you are reportedly considering for the role would do the same.

I understand the temptation to appoint establishment-friendly people as you seek Senate support to repeal Obamacare. But like Obamacare, the autism epidemic has also heaped tremendous healthcare costs on the American people. We will not eliminate the rising costs of Obamacare by accepting the rising cost of autism.

In a meeting you held with advocates, you were told that you were the only one who can fix the autism epidemic. You replied that you will. You also said in front of 23 million viewers that you would push for safer vaccinations and that you believed doing so would have a major impact on autism. Many people voted for you this past election because of that.

Now is your chance to fulfill your campaign promises. We appreciate that you have not backed down over your desire to put together a vaccine safety commission. Such a commission can only be effective, however, with federal health agency chiefs open to its policies. FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb is already not open and neither would Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald be should you appoint her CDC director. Please withdraw any consideration of Dr. Fitzgerald. That way, we can truly end the autism epidemic and Make America Great Again!

Your supporter,

Jake Crosby, MPH