Trump Chooses Alex Azar for Health and Human Services 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.

Azar, who now works for a consulting firm, worked as the HHS general counsel from 2001 to 2005 in the George W. Bush administration.

Azar, 50, had until last January served as president of the American arm of drug giant Eli Lilly and Company.

In a tweet posted Monday morning, Trump said he has his new guy.

The sharp, Yale educated attorney did not have a rep for slashing drug prices at Lilly, which he left during a big executive reshuffle after Dave Ricks grabbed the CEO's job. Now he would have to scrupulously avoid conflicts with Lilly's far-reaching interests, from drug approval to Medicare reimbursement. The drugmaker has drawn criticism from patient advocacy groups for price increases to one of its biggest products: insulin, used to treat high blood sugar for almost 100 years.

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Azar has served on the board of directors of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, a drug industry lobby, for several years, and his nomination would raise questions about the administration's seriousness about lowering drug prices.

Frustrated by fruitless efforts to overturn the Affordable Care Act in Congress, Trump might see the regulatory route as his best chance to make a mark on health care.

And he'll be returning to HHS a second time.

"'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. He previously worked in the Health and Human Services agency during the George W. Bush administration.