Investigating HHS Secretary Alex Azar’s Connections to Pharmaceutical Companies

American Oversight today sued the Department of Health and Human Services to compel the release of communications between Secretary Alex Azar and the pharmaceutical industry —including Eli Lilly, where Azar worked until 2017.

The administration has failed to provide final responses to several Freedom of Information Act requests, filed by American Oversight in March, that sought records reflecting Azar or his staff having communicated with pharmaceutical industry groups and companies like Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.

The investigation into the pharmaceutical industry’s access at HHS follows similar and ongoing inquiries related to the level of influence conservative health-care and anti-abortion groups have over federal policy. Earlier this month, after obtaining calendars that show a number of meetings with Azar and conservative anti-Affordable Care Act groups, American Oversight requested records related to the secretary’s July meeting with conservative health-care policy leaders.

American Oversight has also filed a FOIA request to HHS for nomination materials and ethics guidelines for members appointed to the Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force. The task force is a collaboration between HHS, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Defense that makes recommendations on policies related to the opioid crisis.

“We need to be sure that Secretary Azar is working for the American people, not the drug companies that will stand to benefit from drug price hikes and limited options,” said American Oversight Executive Director Austin Evers. “All across the Trump cabinet, former industry executives have been busy fulfilling their corporate wish lists at a frightening pace, and it’s important to know exactly how closely Secretary Azar has been working with the pharmaceutical industry.”

The complaint filed today by American Oversight can be found here.

Related Blog Posts

September 6, 2019

News Roundup: Trump’s Enthusiastic Support for New Drug Raises Questions

Council on Environmental Quality, Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of the Treasury, Department of Transportation, Department of Veterans Affairs, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Food and Drug Administration, Georgia Department of Driver Services, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Securities and Exchange Commission, Texas Attorney General
News
August 13, 2019

More Examples of Personal Email Use and Heavy-Handed Outside Influence at the VA

Department of Veterans Affairs
Investigation Update
News
June 4, 2019

Documents Reveal Extent of Koch-Funded VA Privatization Group’s Influence

Department of Veterans Affairs
Investigation Update
May 30, 2019

Trump Administration Appeals Court Decision Ordering It to Turn Over Communications with Congress About ACA Sabotage

Congress, Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget
Investigation Update
April 2, 2019

Federal Judge Rejects Administration’s Argument for Withholding Communications with Congress about ACA Sabotage

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget
News
March 8, 2019

Watchdogs Sue HHS Following Women’s Health Website Overhaul

Department of Health and Human Services
News
March 1, 2019

HHS Secretary Azar Calendars Show Multiple Meetings with Conservative Health-Care Groups

Department of Health and Human Services
News
February 21, 2019

New Lawsuit Seeks HHS Communications with Anti-Abortion Groups

Department of Health and Human Services
News
March 9, 2018

American Oversight Sues HHS and CMS for Verma Ethics Records

Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services
News
January 16, 2018

Video: Breaking Down Our Lawsuit with HHS, OMB, and Congress

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget
October 17, 2017

Health Care Lawsuit: Fighting for Transparency

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget
Investigation Update
September 15, 2017

Congress Enters Legal Fight to Block Release of Obamacare Repeal Emails

Congress, Department of Health and Human Services
Investigation Update
September 13, 2017

“News to Me!” – Inside the Health Care Emails

Office of Management and Budget
Investigation Update
September 7, 2017

Third Set of Health Care Emails Again Shows Trump Administration Effort to Hide Negotiations

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget
Investigation Update
August 2, 2017

New Health Care Documents Show Effort to Hide Details of Negotiations

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget
Investigation Update
July 20, 2017

American Oversight Sues HHS and OMB For Secret Trump Letter Outlining Plan to Weaken Obamacare

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget, White House
Investigation Update
May 4, 2017

Watchdog Files Lawsuit, Seeks Injunction for HHS, OMB Health Care Negotiation Record

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget
Investigation Update
March 23, 2017

American Oversight Demands Release of Secret Health Care Negotiations

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget
Investigation Update