Trump nominates pharma insider Azar to lead HHS

Alex Azar won President Trump's nomination for HHS secretary on Monday

Alex Azar won President Trump's nomination for HHS secretary on Monday

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

Trump's first health secretary, former US Representative Tom Price, resigned in September amid a public furor over his use of expensive taxpayer-funded private charter jets for government travel.

Azar worked at Eli Lilly for a decade, including five years as president of its USA affiliate Lilly USA unit, and left the company in January, according to his LinkedIn page. "I don't think anybody can question his credentials from an experience perspective".

If confirmed, Azar, who is from Lebanese origins, 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.

Cowen analyst Eric Assaraf, for his part, wrote in a note seen by Business Insider that even though "Trump specifically called out lowering drug prices in his announcement of Azar, we don't believe his appointment will mark a change in course in that realm". But it is highly unlikely that a pharmaceutical company executive who has made passionate arguments against price restraints is going to advance real reform.

"During Mr. Azar's tenure at Eli Lilly, this multi-billion-dollar corporation dodged taxes while charging Americans outrageously high prices for life-saving prescription drugs".

Currently, Azar is the chairman and founder of Seraphim Strategies, which provides strategic consulting and counsel on biopharmaceutical and health insurance industries. He served as the HHS deputy secretary under President George W. Bush. "Alex Azar will be able to hit the ground running, following his confirmation, in addressing the challenges facing Medicare and Medicaid and bringing a patient-centered, value-focused approach to healthcare policymaking".

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