WASHINGTON — 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.
If confirmed, Azar also would take the lead in implementing Trump’s campaign promise to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, the 2010 healthcare overhaul passed under former Democratic President Barack Obama.
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.”
Azar worked at Eli Lilly for a decade, including five years as president of its USA affiliate Lilly USA unit, and left the company in January, according to his LinkedIn page.
He also served several years on the board of directors of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, a drug industry lobbying group, and earlier was general counsel and deputy secretary for Health and Human Services under former Republican President George W. Bush.
In February, Azar founded a consulting agency that specialized in biopharmaceutical and healthcare companies, his LinkedIn page said.
Azar’s nomination comes after Trump’s initial health secretary, former U.S. Representative Tom Price, resigned in September amid criticism over his use of expensive taxpayer-funded private charter jets for government travel instead of cheaper commercial flights.
Azar’s nomination must be approved by the U.S. Senate, which is controlled by Trump’s fellow Republicans. Democrats and other critics are likely to raise questions about the administration’s seriousness about lowering drug prices with a former industry executive leading such a charge.