Published: Tue, November 14, 2017
Medicine | By Douglas Stevenson

Who Is The Former Pharma Exec Trump Nominated To Lead HHS?

Who Is The Former Pharma Exec Trump Nominated To Lead HHS?

Alex Azar, who President Donald Trump intends to nominate secretary of HHS, said he believes pharmaceutical companies are not to blame for the high cost of prescription drugs, which contradicts much of President Trump's rhetoric on the issue, according toBloomberg.

Azar has worked at HHS before: From 2005-07, he was a deputy secretary in the department, and from 2001-05, he was general counsel. More recently, Azar served in many roles with Eli Lilly and Company, an global pharmaceutical company, where as President of Lilly USA, he oversaw the substantial rise in drug prices while simultaneously serving on the board for the world's largest pharmaceutical lobby, Biotechnology Innovation Organization.

After graduating from Yale Law School, Azar, 50, clerked for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and then worked for then-independent counsel Ken Starr on the so-called Whitewater investigation that embroiled the Clinton administration.

"The expertise garnered from his career in the private sector and prior public service at HHS as Deputy Secretary will prove to be particularly valuable in addressing the serious challenges facing our nation's healthcare system today", Pollack said. Azar stepped down from Lilly after more than a decade to start up a health care consulting firm, Seraphim Strategies, LLC.

If confirmed, Azar also would take the lead in implementing Trump's campaign promise to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, the 2010 healthcare overhaul passed under former Democratic President Barack Obama. He will be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices!

Healthcare industry associations the American Hospital Association and HIMSS, meanwhile, highlighted Azar's experience in healthcare and IT, working with both HHS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, as qualifying him for the position.

"This is a slap in the face to millions of Americans who are waiting on (the President) to take action to lower drug prices", Cummings wrote on Twitter. In contrast, at a panel past year hosted by the Manhattan Institute, Mr. Azar said it is up to drugmakers, not the government, to determine the cost of drugs. In May, he told Fox News that, in his opinion, Obamacare was "circling the drain" and should be stopped. Azar appears to prefer moving authority to the states over Medicaid.

Republicans were supportive with Senate health committee head Lamar Alexander of Tennessee describing Azar as a qualified, experienced nominee.

"It's time to turn over a new leaf at HHS", Schumer said.

Trump's nomination of Azaro has been met with some scrutiny.

The U.S. Senate still has to hold a confirmation hearing to formalize Azar as Secretary.

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