Trump nominates former pharma exec Alex Azar as health secretary


Trump nominates former pharma exec Alex Azar as health secretary

President Donald Trump announced Monday he would nominate former pharmaceutical executive Alex Azar for the position of HHS secretary.

The nomination follows the resignation of Trump's first HHS secretary, Tom Price. Previously, he was president of Lilly USA, an affiliate of Eli Lilly, from January 2012 to January 2017. "I don't think anybody can question his credentials from an experience perspective".

In contrast to Mr. Price, an orthopedic surgeon and former Republican congressman, Mr. Azar is a lawyer and health care expert who allies predicted would use his deep knowledge of the federal bureaucracy to advance Mr. Trump's agenda of undermining President Barack Obama's health care law. "He promised the American people he would bring skyrocketing drug prices 'way, way, way, down.' But when given the chance to put his money where his mouth is, he brazenly nominated a former pharmaceutical executive to lead the agency charged with managing prescription drug costs". It will be interesting to see if Azar attempts to unravel his personal holdings prior to confirmation hearings, or go the route that Trump and many of his other Cabinet picks have and just ignore the norm of divestiture for public service.

Azar also drew praise from PhRMA, the largest pharmaceutical industry trade group and America's Health Insurance Plans, the key lobbyist for the insurer industry. He was also HHS general counsel in former President George W. Bush's administration from 2001 to 2005.

Patient advocacy organization Public Citizen said Azar has made it clear he is opposed to measures "to restrain prescription companies' profiteering and limit improper marketing" and that he favors weaker safety approval standards. "He had full responsibility as deputy secretary for the regulatory processes at HHS".