Published: Tue, November 14, 2017
Global | By Shelia Dennis

Trump Picks Former Eli Lilly Drug Executive as Health Secretary

Trump Picks Former Eli Lilly Drug Executive as Health Secretary

President Trump aims to fill the role of Health and Human Services Secretary, vacant since Tom Price resigned in lieu of reports about his questionable travel records.

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 US affiliate before leaving in January to start his own consulting firm. 'He will be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices!'

If he's confirmed, Azar would replace Dr. Tom Price, who resigned from HHS in September after a Politico investigation found that he had taken private charter aircraft on work-related trips at times when cheaper commercial flights were available. He previously worked in the Health and Human Services agency during the George W. Bush administration.

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Azar's Senate confirmation could be hard, with the chamber's 48 Democrats unlikely to approve a candidate who supports dismantling the Affordable Care Act.

The Trump administration followed through on a threat to cut off billions of dollars of subsidy payments to insurers, shortened the Obamacare open enrollment period, slashed advertising for the program by 90 percent and cut funding to groups that help people sign up for health insurance.

As HHS secretary, Azar would oversee health agencies including the Food and Drug Administration, which regulates pharmaceutical companies including Lilly.

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The firm represents a sophisticated client base of Fortune 100 life sciences, health care services companies, and providers as well as innovative, venture and private equity backed companies in diagnostics, digital health, health information technology and health care services.

As secretary, Azar would have broad authority over many aspects of the program.

Azar left Lilly in January, several months after another senior executive was named to succeed then-CEO John Lechleiter.

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Azar, who served as deputy HHS secretary under President George W. Bush, is known as a detail-oriented bureaucrat who understands how to work the regulatory system to get things done.

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