Trump Chooses Alex Azar for Health and Human Services Secretary

Trump Chooses Alex Azar for Health and Human Services Secretary


WASHINGTON — President Trump nominated a pharmaceutical executive to be the next secretary of the Health and Human Services Department.

The nominee, Alex M. Azar II, served as a deputy at the department under former President George W. Bush. Until January, he was the head of the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly’s United States division.

Mr. Trump made his announcement in a Twitter post while traveling in Asia. Mr. Trump said Mr. Azar would be “a star and lower drug prices!”

Mr. Trump’s first Health and Human Services Secretary, Tom Price, resigned in September amid controversy over his use of chartered flights for government travel.

Mr. Azar worked for Eli Lilly for a decade, from 2007 to 2017, and in 2011 became president of the company’s United States division.

If he is confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Azar would be returning to a sprawling agency where he served as general counsel and deputy secretary under former President Bush.

Since leaving H.H.S. in 2007, Mr. Azar has spent a decade in the pharmaceutical industry, working for the past five years as president of the American division of Eli Lilly, which is headquartered in Indiana.

A longtime conservative, Mr. Azar worked as a clerk to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in the early 1990s, and worked for two years on the Clinton Whitewater investigation carried out by Kenneth W. Starr, the independent counsel.

Mr. Azar’s nomination is likely to raise questions about Mr. Trump’s commitment to pressuring drug companies to lower prices in the United States. Last month, Mr. Trump accused drug companies of “getting away with murder” by charging more for their drugs in the United States than elsewhere in the world.

As president of one of the country’s leading pharmaceutical companies, Mr. Azar was a member of the board of directors at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, the leading industry association for biotech companies.

As the secretary of health and human services, Mr. Azar would be a key player in implementing Mr. Trump’s efforts to crack down on the prices that drug companies charge in the United States, making him responsible for going after the industry that he helped lead for a decade.

A graduate of Yale Law School, Mr. Azar is also likely to be a key part of continuing efforts by Mr. Trump and Republican allies to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

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