Trump nominates former pharma exec Alex Azar as health secretary

Alex Azar former Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

President Donald Trump has selected drug industry executive Alex Azar to replace former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who resigned amid a government jet scandal.

Azar was president of Lilly USA, the largest affiliate of Eli Lilly & Co., until January.

The Azar nomination is unusual because HHS secretaries have tended to come from the ranks of elected officials such as governors - not industries regulated by the department.


It's unclear what thoughts, if any, Azar has on tobacco.

In a tweet posted Monday morning, Trump said he has his new guy. He's seen as an expert on government health care regulation. The drugmaker has drawn criticism from patient advocacy groups for price increases to one of its biggest products: insulin. That bout of employment is worrisome for some Senate Democrats. Sen. Azar also worked in HHS during President George W. Bush's administration, serving as HHS's general counsel from 2001 and 2005 and becoming deputy secretary until 2008. "I am. interested in how, given Mr. Azar's professional background, he believes he can fairly execute any significant effort to lower drug prices for patients", she said in a statement.

"'The drug companies, frankly, are getting away with murder, and we want to bring our prices down to what other countries are paying, or at least close and let the other countries pay more", the president told reporters gathered in the Cabinet Room, ' Trump said then. In meetings with industry executives, however, Trump has focused on speeding up drug approvals, a cost-reducing tactic they would back.

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