Trump turns to drug industry for his new health secretary

Wednesday, 15 November 2017, 01:20:50 AM. Turning to an industry he's rebuked, President Donald Trump on Monday picked a former top pharmaceutical and government executive to be his health secretary. If confirmed, Alex Azar would oversee a $1 trillion department responsible for major health insurance programs, including...
Turning to an industry he's rebuked, President Donald Trump on Monday picked a former top pharmaceutical and government executive to be his health secretary. If confirmed, Alex Azar would oversee a $1 trillion department responsible for major health insurance programs, including "Obamacare," as well as medical research, food and drug safety, and public health. The nomination of Azar is unusual because Health and Human Services secretaries have come from the ranks of elected officials such as governors, leaders in academia and medicine, or top executive branch managers — not industries regulated by the department. "He will be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices!" Trump tweeted in a morning announcement. Trump has a track record of making industry-friendly nominations, such as former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state and wealthy investor Wilbur Ross as secretary of commerce. But Trump also has been a scathing critic of the drug companies, both as a candidate and as president. 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 U.S. affiliate before leaving in January to start his own consulting firm. He's also seen as an expert on government health care regulation. As secretary, Azar would be returning to HHS after serving in senior posts in the George W. Bush administration. He would have to scrupulously avoid conflicts with Lilly's far-reaching interests, from...Read more
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