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Trump to nominate 'star' to lead HHS

15 November 2017

He is a former pharmaceutical executive and worked for Eli Lilly for almost a decade, and became president of Lilly USA in 2012.

President Donald Trump has nominated Alex Azar, a former pharmaceutical executive, to run the Department of Health and Human Services.

Mr. Azar replaces Tom Price, MD, who left HHS Sept. 29 after a Politico investigation revealed he often traveled on expensive private jets when cheaper commercial flights were available.

Azar has been critical of the Affordable Care Act and has said he supports healthcare block grants to states - an idea pushed by the Trump administration and many Republican governors, including Indiana's Gov. Eric Holcomb.

Critics mocked the selection by a president who promised to drain the Washington "swamp" of lobbyists and has complained about "RIPOFF DRUG PRICES" on Twitter. "He promised the American people he would bring skyrocketing drug prices 'way, way, way, down.' But when given the chance to put his money where his mouth is, he brazenly nominated a former pharmaceutical executive to lead the agency charged with managing prescription drug costs".

But Azar's pharmaceutical industry background prompted immediate questions about potential conflicts of interest and criticism from Democrats, who expressed concern about how he will handle Obamacare and whether he will be tough on drug makers.

"In his public statements, Alex Azar has made clear that he is opposed to measures to restrain prescription companies' profiteering and limit improper marketing, while favoring weaker safety approval standards".

Trump picked Azar for the HHS chief position above other candidates such as Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services director Seema Verma and FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, according to press reports on the selection process.

As head of HHS, Azar would have oversight responsibility for the US Food and Drug Administration, which regulates the drug industry including approving new treatments.

Trump to nominate 'star' to lead HHS