Trump picks former pharmaceutical executive to lead Health and Human Services

Alex Azar, who was deputy secretary for Health and Human Services in the George W. Bush administration, is President Trump's pick to replace Dr. Tom Price as head of the department.
Alex Azar, who was deputy secretary for Health and Human Services in the George W. Bush administration, is President Trump's pick to replace Dr. Tom Price as head of the department.
Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump is nominating a former pharmaceutical executive to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, the agency that, among other things, regulates prescription drugs.

The nomination comes at a time when rising drug prices have become a hot political issue.

On Twitter on Monday, Trump announced the nomination of Alex Azar, who until January had served as president of the U.S. arm of Eli Lilly & Co., based in Indianapolis. He said Azar would be "a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices."

The pharmaceutical company makes several blockbuster medications, including Cialis, which treats erectile dysfunction, the antidepressant Cymbalta and several forms of insulin.

While Azar was at Lilly, he also sat on the board of directors of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, a trade group for biotech companies. Previously, Azar served as general counsel and later as deputy secretary of Health and Human Services during the George W. Bush administration.

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.

Azar, a lawyer, would take over one of the largest federal agencies with an annual budget of more than $1 trillion. The department runs the Medicare and Medicaid programs, is responsible for implementation of the Affordable Care Act and oversees the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration.

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