The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Chris Fleming,Email:,

Trump's HHS Pick Has History Of Price Gouging

Americans for Tax Fairness Report Shows that Eli Lilly Price Gouged and Tax Dodged While Alex Azar Was U.S. Division President


Earlier today, Donald Trump's nominee to head the Department of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, testified in front of the Senate Finance Committee that "drug prices are too high" while taking no responsibility for his role in raising the price of drugs.

Azar was the president of the U.S. division of Eli Lilly from 2012 until 2017.
Last month, Americans for Tax Fairness released a report on the pharmaceutical industry entitled "The Pharma Big 10: Price Gougers, Tax Dodgers." The report found that Eli Lilly, during Azar's time as U.S. division president, repeatedly raised prices on critical medications.
Using 2011 as a baseline (Azar became U.S. division president on January 1, 2012) and comparing to most recent data available (2015), Eli Lilly:
  • Raised retail price of diabetes treatment Humalog Kwik-pen by 90%
  • Raised retail price of osteoporosis treatment Evista by 52%
  • Raised Medicare price of osteoporosis treatment Forteo by 89%
The general inflation rate during that period was 5%, and the prescription drug inflation rate was 11%.
Meanwhile, the company:
  • More than doubled its stock price (increased 141%) from 2011 to 2015
  • Increased its pile of untaxed offshore profits by 36% from 2011 to 2016, from $20.6 billion to $28 billion
  • Has 35 subsidiaries located in tax havens
  • Paid an effective U.S. tax rate of only 17% from 2008-2015, less than half the official 35% rate
Price gouger, tax dodger indeed.
And one final tidbit from the report: "In December 2015, Lilly introduced a new cancer drug, Portrazza, to fight a particularly deadly form of lung cancer, pricing it at almost $11,500 a month. Four months earlier, cancer researchers had argued in a leading medical journal that a "value-based" price for the drug--one that considered its relatively slight contribution to patient longevity--would be roughly $1,750, or about six times less."

Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) is a diverse campaign of more than 420 national, state and local endorsing organizations united in support of a fair tax system that works for all Americans. It has come together based on the belief that the country needs comprehensive, progressive tax reform that results in greater revenue to meet our growing needs. This requires big corporations and the wealthy to pay their fair share in taxes, not to live by their own set of rules.

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