Speed Reads

health care showdown

Bernie Sanders bulldozes HHS Secretary Alex Azar over dangerously high drug prices

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) skewered the Trump administration for not doing enough to lower drug prices during a heated exchange with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Tuesday. "My guess would be that if we get letters — and I'm sure every senator does — from people who are struggling with cancer, among other life threatening diseases, and they can't afford the medicine, I would guess that thousands of people die each year," Sanders said during a congressional hearing. "Do you think that's something you might want to look at?"

Azar replied that such a study would not "change our commitment to fix this issue."

"It wouldn't? Because thousands of people are dying," Sanders said, speaking over Azar as he attempted to explain that the Trump administration is "firmly committed to reducing drug pricing and out-of-patient costs."

"Oh I know you are, oh I know you are," Sanders continued to say over Azar.

Stat writes that "drug makers have faced intense pressure to lower prices, and [President Trump] came into office pledging to help bring them down," although "that pressure … has not generally yielded change." Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) also challenged Azar on Tuesday to name specific companies that would lower prices, and how much patients would save, to no avail. Watch Sanders' tense exchange with Azar below. Jeva Lange