Published: Wed, November 15, 2017
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

Trump announces pick for new Health and Human Services secretary on Twitter

Trump announces pick for new Health and Human Services secretary on Twitter

He also worked at pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly for almost a decade, according to his LinkedIn profile, and spent about four years on the board of directors of a drug industry lobbying group.

President Donald Trump on Monday said he will nominate former pharmaceutical executive Alex Azar to serve as U.S. Health and Human Services secretary, saying Azar would push to lower the price of medicines.

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.

"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".

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".

Currently, Azar is the chairman and founder of Seraphim Strategies, which provides strategic consulting and counsel on biopharmaceutical and health insurance industries.

"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".

The nomination of Azar represents a shift for Trump, who in his Cabinet picks to date often has not selected candidates with experience in the department they would oversee. "He had full responsibility as deputy secretary for the regulatory processes at HHS".

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