Alex Azar, President Trump's nominee to lead HHS. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call, via Getty Images

Senate Democrats are pressing Alex Azar on the cost of prescription drugs, as the Finance Committee weighs his nomination for Health and Human Services secretary. Sen. Ron Wyden, the committee’s top Democrat, noted that several Eli Lilly drugs saw steep price hikes while Azar ran the company, and asked whether he had ever lowered the price of a product.

“I don’t know that there is any drug price, of a branded product, that has ever gone down — from any company, on any drug, in the United States, because every incentive in this system is toward higher prices,” Azar said, arguing that he could help reshape that system because he knows it well.
  • Value-based contracting — in which drug companies are paid based on how well their products work — “can be vitally important, Azar said, but Medicare’s regulations can “get in the way.”
  • Asked about President Trump's past support for allowing Medicare to negotiate what it will pay for drugs, Azar said the program's prescription drug benefit already has sufficient bargaining tools. But he said he would be open to "looking at" extending those practices into the part of Medicare that covers drugs administered in a doctor's office.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 6:30 a.m. ET: 30,199,007 — Total deaths: 946,490— Total recoveries: 20,544, 967Map
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 6:30 a.m. ET: 6,675,593 — Total deaths: 197,644 — Total recoveries: 2,540,334 — Total tests: 90,710,730Map
  3. Politics: Former Pence aide says she plans to vote for Joe Biden, accusing Trump of costing lives in his coronavirus response.
  4. Health: Pew: 49% of Americans wouldn't get COVID-19 vaccine if available today Pandemic may cause cancer uptick The risks of moving too fast on a vaccine — COVID-19 racial disparities extend to health coverage losses.
  5. Business: Retail sales return to pre-coronavirus trend.
Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Mike Bloomberg's anti-chaos theory

CNN's Anderson Cooper questions Joe Biden last night at a drive-in town hall in Moosic, Pa., outside Scranton. Photo: CNN

Mike Bloomberg's $100 million Florida blitz begins today and will continue "wall to wall" in all 10 TV markets through Election Day, advisers tell me.

Why it matters: Bloomberg thinks that Joe Biden putting away Florida is the most feasible way to head off the national chaos we could have if the outcome of Trump v. Biden remained uncertain long after Election Day.

Biden's hardline Russia reset

Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Getty Images photos: Mark Reinstein

When he talks about Russia, Joe Biden has sounded like Ronald Reagan all summer, setting up a potential Day 1 confrontation with Russian President Vladimir Putin if Biden were to win.

Why it matters: Biden has promised a forceful response against Russia for both election interference and alleged bounty payments to target American troops in Afghanistan. But being tougher than President Trump could be the easy part. The risk is overdoing it and making diplomacy impossible.