Trump taps former pharmaceutical industry executive to lead HHS

ASSOCIATED PRESS

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Azar, who has served as an HHS deputy secretary during the George W. Bush administration and as Eli Lilly's USA president, will be tasked with advancing the president's repeal and replace push for the Affordable Care Act and ostensibly with tackling high pharmaceutical prices, an issue Trump campaigned on and has touched on during his time in the White House.

Price resigned in September after reports that he incurred $1 million on costs using government-owned jets for travel.

Azar previously served as HHS general counsel and deputy secretary for President George W. Bush.

According to Politico, he worked closely there with Eric Hargan, who has been acting HHS secretary since Price left.

Photo Alex Azar, then deputy Health and Human Services secretary, in June 2006. But so far, critics contend the Trump Administration's actions and proposals have only favored the industry.

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"He will be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices", Trump said in a tweet announcing the nomination.

Azar, 50, a lawyer by training, has spent the last 10 years with pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, rising to president of its key US affiliate before leaving in January to start his own consulting firm.

Azar has spent several years inside the drug industry, one of the key sectors he'd regulate at HHS.

Other names that have been floated to replace Price include Seema Verma, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Scott Gottlieb, the Food and Drug Administration commissioner.

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