Senator Rand Paul is refusing to support the nomination of Alex Azar for Secretary of Health and Human Services unless he vows to uphold Donald Trump’s campaign promise of allowing the safe import of prescription medications to lower the costs for consumers.
During Wednesday’s hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, a very passionate Senator Paul urged Azar to be a representative for the American people and not for Big Pharma.
“Big Pharma manipulates the system to keep prices high. It is not capitalism, and it’s big government, and we’ve got to fix it.” He went on to add, “You need to convince those of us who are skeptical that you’ll be part of fixing it and won’t be beholden to Big Pharma.”
The outspoken senator added that he will not be able to support the nomination unless Azar could provide him with a plan on how he will uphold the president’s former campaign promise.
“If you’re open to it, and not just say it’s unsafe, will say, ‘This is how I would do it, and this is how I would reimport drugs and make it safe,’ that’s an honest reform. If you can’t do that, I can’t support you,” Paul stated during the hearing. “So I hope you will come back with an answer that says, ‘This is how I would make reimportation safe.’”
The Kentucky senator specifically called out the fact that there is still no generic alternative for Insulin, which is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines. This allows the manufacturer to charge anything they want for the important drug, which many believe has been abused.
During his campaign, Trump had called for eliminating “barriers to entry into free markets for drug providers that offer safe, reliable and cheaper products” as part of his seven-point health care plan. He had also called for “allowing consumers access to imported, safe and dependable drugs from overseas will bring more options to consumers.”
Dr. Paul has been a major figure in the fight for making healthcare more affordable for all, as well as repealing and replacing Obamacare.