Top Story: Trump's HHS Pick Alex Azar Fits Right In

Alex Azar

"At a time when the United States pays, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, the last thing we need is to put a pharmaceutical executive in charge of the Department of Health and Human Services".

Azar admirers say his industry experience should be considered an asset, not a liability.

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

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A recently filed class action lawsuit alleges Lilly and two other drug giants continued in recent years to jack up prices for insulin products without regard for rising out-of-pocket costs for patients. The former Georgia congressman resigned September 29 over a scandal involving his use of private aircraft for government business.

In contrast to Mr. Price, an orthopedic surgeon and former Republican congressman, Mr. Azar is a lawyer and health care expert who allies predicted would use his deep knowledge of the federal bureaucracy to advance Mr. Trump's agenda of undermining President Barack Obama's health care law. Trump wrote on Twitter. HLC President Mary R. Grealy said she believes that once confirmed, Azar will be able to "hit the ground running", and will be help bring a "patient-centered, value-focused approach to healthcare policymaking".

Azar, though a spokesman, declined to comment. There's little doubt Democrats will be grilling Azar during his confirmation hearing on his previous statements about drug prices and how he addressed the issue while at Eli Lilly.

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Currently, Azar is the chairman and founder of Seraphim Strategies, which provides strategic consulting and counsel on biopharmaceutical and health insurance industries. Azar will replace Acting HHS Secretary Eric Hagan.

Azar represents an unusual choice for this position as it has been common practice for presidents to make a nomination from elected officials rather than industry.

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