Former Lilly President Picked to Head HHS


President Trump has nominated Alex M. Azar II to be the next secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

President Trump today nominated Alex M. Azar II to be the next secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The president made the announcement via Twitter while he was traveling in Asia, tweeting that Azar would be “a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices.”

Azar previously served as the general counsel and later deputy secretary of HHS under President George W. Bush. He then joined Eli Lilly and Company in 2007 and was named the president of the drug manufacturer’s American division in 2011 before leaving the company in January 2017.

The announcement was met with mixed reactions; while Democrats questioned Azar’s fitness to spearhead efforts to combat rising drug prices given his previous position, Republicans cited his experience in praising the choice. Pharmacy organizations also congratulated Azar on his nomination.

“[Azar’s] background in the pharmaceutical industry means he brings an understanding of supply chain issues and players that will be helpful to him in this role,” said National Community Pharmacists Association CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, in a press release. “We look forward to sharing independent community pharmacists’ insights about how to make the system more transparent, increase patient access to prescription drugs, and reduce health care spending and drive better health outcomes in the process.”

If confirmed by the Senate, Azar would succeed former HHS secretary Tom Price, who resigned in September 2017 amidst controversy over his use of private aircraft.

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