Trump Picks Former Eli Lilly Drug Executive as Health Secretary

Trump Picks Former Eli Lilly Drug Executive as Health Secretary

Trump Picks Former Eli Lilly Drug Executive as Health Secretary

President Trump aims to fill the role of Health and Human Services Secretary, vacant since Tom Price resigned in lieu of reports about his questionable travel records.

'Happy to announce, I am nominating Alex Azar to be the next Secretary, ' Trump tweeted Monday from the Philippines.

Azar served as HHS's No. 2 under Secretary Mike Leavitt, who said he asked Azar to oversee the department's regulatory process.

Trump made the announcement on Twitter, saying Azar "will be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices".

Azar served at HHS when Bush was in power in the year 2001 as general counsel. Ron Wyden (OR), for instance, spoke for many of his colleagues when he wondered how Azar could faithfully work to bring down prescription drug prices given his former employment.

Azar previously worked at the department as deputy secretary under President George W. Bush before joining the pharmaceutical industry.

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Azar also favors moving authority to the states over Medicaid, the program that provides health care to the poor, elderly and disabled. The drugmaker has drawn criticism from patient advocacy groups for price increases to one of its biggest products: insulin. This time, he'll face Democrats wary of the administration's unyielding quest to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Trump has been a sharp critic of the industry. "The drug companies, frankly, are getting away with murder", the president said at a Cabinet meeting this fall.

Admirers say Azar's drug industry experience should be considered an asset, not a liability.

Trump's pick to lead the Food and Drug Administration, Scott Gottlieb, also faced scrutiny for receiving consulting payments from drugmakers and medical device companies while in the private sector.

As secretary, Azar would have broad authority over many aspects of the program. He once clerked for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a revered figure for conservatives.

Azar's nomination, which must be confirmed by the Senate, comes a month and a half after Secretary Tom Price resigned amid a scandal over his use of private jets to conduct government business.

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