On Senate Floor, Shaheen Opposes Big Pharma HHS Nominee Underscoring Administration’s Failure to Act on Opioid Epidemic and Prescription Drug Prices

January 24, 2018

**SHAHEEN: “Between Mr. Azar’s coziness with the pharmaceutical industry, his disdain for the Affordable Care Act, which is the law of the land and which Mr. Azar would be charged with administering as Secretary, I think he is the wrong person to serve in the critically important post of Secretary of Health and Human Services.”

 

Sen. Shaheen 1/24/2018

 

Watch the remarks here

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) spoke on the Senate floor this morning, opposing the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary nominee Alex Azar, who has a lengthy record of increasing drug prices during his tenure in the pharmaceutical industry, and who has stated his intention to sabotage the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Shaheen underscored Mr. Azar’s alarming history as a pharmaceutical executive, where he opposed government regulations on prescription drug pricing and saw net prices of pharmaceuticals manufactured by his former company increase by double digit percentages. Shaheen highlighted how Mr. Azar’s big pharma ties and government hands-off approach threaten efforts to combat the opioid epidemic, referring to dramatic price increases for Narcan, the antidote that reverses opioid overdoses.

Shaheen also warned that Mr. Azar’s stated intention to dismantle the Affordable Care Act risks curtailing the opioid response, stating, “He apparently does not appreciate that the Affordable Care Act – the Medicaid expansion in particular – has been an absolutely critical tool in the fight against the opioid epidemic… As we all know, the opioid epidemic is a nationwide crisis, with some 63,000 Americans killed by drug overdoses in 2016.  But New Hampshire has been hit especially hard.  The demise of the Affordable Care Act, which Mr. Azar says he wants, would mean that thousands of Granite Staters would lose access to treatment, with devastating consequences.”

Through the Medicaid expansion, nearly 11,000 Granite Staters have gained access to treatment for substance use disorders.

Shaheen reaffirmed the need to put public interest and public safety above special interests, stating, “Between Mr. Azar’s coziness with the pharmaceutical industry, his disdain for the Affordable Care Act, which is the law of the land and which Mr. Azar would be charged with administering as Secretary, I think he is the wrong person to serve in the critically important post of Secretary of Health and Human Services.”

As the lead Democrat on the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Shaheen has led efforts in Congress to combat the opioid epidemic. Shaheen continues to fight for funding to combat the opioid crisis. She also recently introduced bipartisan funding legislation to prioritize states hardest hit by the opioid epidemic, including New Hampshire, and has consistently called on the Trump administration to take meaningful action as the public health emergency continues to devastate Granite State communities.