President Donald Trump on Monday said he will nominate former pharmaceutical executive Alex Azar to serve as U.S. Health and Human Services secretary, saying Azar would push to lower the price of medicines.
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 Trump administration revealed the next Secretary of Health and Human Services, to replace ousted Secretary Tom Price. Interestingly, a day after the previous HHS Secretary, Tom Price, resigned, Alex Azar exercised an insider option to purchase shares in HMS Holdings, bringing his publicly known total of shares in the company to over 17,000 with a current market value over $255,000 in a company with a market cap of over $1.3 billion.
Trump, who is in the Philippines on a diplomatic trip, announced his intention to nominate Azar on Twitter by saying he would "be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices". In 2012, he became the president of the company's affiliate for North America, Lilly USA. He would also help the Trump administration to dismantle Obamacare and crack down on drug prices. Azar joined Lilly in 2007 as a senior vice president of global corporate affairs and communications.
Azar, though a spokesman, declined to comment.
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Democratic Senator Patty Murray, who has been working on bipartisan healthcare legislation, tweeted, "Given Alex Azar's professional background, there are concerns on whether he can fairly execute any significant effort to lower drug prices for patients & families".
Currently, Azar is the chairman and founder of Seraphim Strategies, which provides strategic consulting and counsel on biopharmaceutical and health insurance industries. Former George W Bush appointee and industry insider Alex Azar is the most recent swamp creature to emerge from the MAGA train.
"It's certainly circling the drain", said Azar of the Affordable Care Act during an interview on the Fox Business Network.
"The nomination of a new HHS Secretary could be an opportunity for Trump and Republicans to turn the page on their repeal and sabotage agenda, especially in light of last week's election results where Republicans lost across the country with the GOP's unpopular health care agenda being a leading cause".
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