Trump Appoints Ex-Pharma Exec as Replacement HHS Secretary

Replacement HHS Secretary
Alex Azar, Trump's appointment for replacement HHS Secretary.

On Monday, Donald Trump announced via twitter that Alex Azar, the former head of pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, is to serve as replacement Secretary for the Health and Human Services (HHS).

Trump’s initial appointment to the position, Tom Price, was confirmed by the Senate in February. However, Price resigned in September after it became public that he had spent over $1 million dollars of department funding on private aircraft for personal transportation, earning him the distinction of having the shortest tenure of any person to hold the position.

Azar’s appointment must be confirmed by the Senate before he officially accepts the mantel of replacement HHS Secretary, and with the Senate controlled by Republicans, any appointment made by Trump is unlikely to be opposed.

Eli Lilly employed Azar for ten years, during which he served for five years as president of Lilly US, the pharmaceutical company’s U.S. affiliate. He left the company in January and subsequently founded a healthcare and biopharmaceutical consulting agency.

In addition to his experience in the private sector, Azar also served as deputy secretary and general counsel for the Department of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush, and spent several years on the board of directors of drug lobbying group Biotechnology Innovation Organization. Azar also serves on several more boards, including those for the American Council on Germany and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

If appointed, Azar, who has been an outspoken critic of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), will be charged with overseeing the many responsibilities of the HSS, which include administration of the Medicaid and Medicare programs, as well as the implementation of the ACA, which is often referred to as Obamacare.

Trump’s announcement of Azar’s nomination as replacement HHS Secretary was made over twitter. Trump sent the tweet from the Philippines, and claimed that Azar will be a “star” for “lower drug prices” and “better healthcare.”