Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar—a former pharmaceutical executive—repeatedly refused during House testimony to guarantee that any coronavirus vaccine or treatment developed with taxpayer money will be affordable for all in the U.S., not just the rich.
During testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Azar was pressed multiple times to vow that vaccines and treatments for the coronavirus will be priced fairly and made affordable for all U.S. households.
"We would want to ensure that we'd work to make it affordable," Azar told Rep. Jan Schakowsky, "but we can't control that price because we need the private sector to invest."
Schakowsky tweeted following the hearing that she gave Azar "THREE chances to assure us that any coronavirus vaccines or treatments developed with U.S. taxpayer dollars will be affordable and accessible to everyone and he flat out refused to do so."
"He's giving Big Pharma a blank check to monopolize them instead," added Schakowsky.
Progressive advocacy group Social Security Works said that "this is what happens when you put a Big Pharma CEO who doubled the price of insulin in charge of regulating Big Pharma," referring to Azar's tenure at Eli Lilly. "Pharma and their friends in the Trump admin don't care how many people die," the group wrote, "as long as they get to make a profit."