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Meet Lebanese-origin Alex Azar, Trump's pick for health secretary
14 November 2017, 07:00 | Glen Norman
EVAN VUCCI AP
Alex Azar, a former executive of Eli Lilly was nominated by President Trump today to be Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The nomination follows the resignation of Trump's first HHS secretary, Tom Price. Prior to those postings, he was known as an Associate Independent Counsel for Ken Starr, investigating the Whitewater controversy during Bill Clinton's presidency. More recently, Azar served in many roles with Eli Lilly and Company, an worldwide pharmaceutical company, where as President of Lilly USA, he oversaw the substantial rise in drug prices while simultaneously serving on the board for the world's largest pharmaceutical lobby, Biotechnology Innovation Organization. Trump wrote on Twitter. He also pointed to Eli Lilly raising drug prices by double digits while Azar was an executive at the company.
Azar served as the president of the American division of pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly from 2012 until January of this year.
Other Democrats were more cautious in their response to Trump's announcement, with Senator Chuck Schumer calling for the health agency to turn over a new leaf with Azar. The President is confident Azar could provide America with affordable healthcare and lower drug prices.
Mr. Azar must now be vetted by the Senate.
Azar, 50, had previously served as general counsel and then as deputy secretary of the HHS under President George W. Bush's administration.
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Meanwhile, representatives from the pharmaceutical, insurance and healthcare industries, particularly those that have directly worked with him n his government and private sector roles, issued statements in support of Azar.
Patient advocacy organization Public Citizen said Azar has made it clear he is opposed to measures "to restrain prescription companies' profiteering and limit improper marketing" and that he favors weaker safety approval standards. "The nomination of Alex Azar, the former head of Eli Lilly's USA operations, shows that Trump was never serious about his promise to stop the pharmaceutical industry from 'getting away with murder'".
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