HHS/NOMINATIONS/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “When Donald Trump’s nominee for HHS secretary was a top executive at Eli Lilly, the patent on its blockbuster Cialis was soon to expire. So Lilly tested it on kids.
The drugmaker believed the erectile dysfunction drug might help a rare and deadly muscle-wasting disease that afflicts boys. The drug didn’t work — but under a law that promotes pediatric research, Lilly was able to extend the Cialis patent anyway for six months — and that’s worth a lot when a medication brings in over $2 billion a year.
Critics say the brand-name drugmakers are ‘gaming’ the patent system, finding all sorts of ways to protect monopolies and delay competition from generics. And Alex Azar — the former president of Eli Lilly’s U.S. operations, now poised to become the top U.S. health official — professes to oppose such tactics.
But the tension between his past actions as a drug executive and his likely future as the nation’s top health official are evident in both the Cialis story and in Lilly’s tripling of the price of insulin.
Questions about his commitment to rein in skyrocketing drug costs, an unfulfilled Trump campaign pledge, are likely to dominate his confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday. The full Senate is likely to vote on his nomination to lead the Department of Health and Human Services late this month. He’d succeed Tom Price, who resigned after a taxpayer-funded travel scandal.”

-Sarah Karlin-Smith, “How Trump’s HHS nominee’s drug company ‘gamed’ a patent,” Politico, Jan. 8, 2018 05:00am