Trump faucets ex-pharma govt Azar as U.S. well being secretary

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump on Monday stated he’s nominating former pharmaceutical govt and trade lobbyist Alex Azar to function U.S. Well being and Human Companies secretary, saying Azar would push to decrease the worth of medicines.

Alex Azar in an undated picture.


Republicans in addition to the lead foyer teams for drugmakers and well being insurers welcomed Azar as an skilled hand who may assist overhaul the world’s most expensive healthcare system.

However a number of Democratic lawmakers questioned whether or not he would sort out modifications that minimize into pharmaceutical earnings.

If confirmed, Azar additionally would take the lead in implementing Trump’s marketing campaign promise to dismantle the Inexpensive Care Act, former Democratic President Barack Obama’s 2010 healthcare overhaul that prolonged medical health insurance to 20 million People.

Democratic Consultant Elijah Cummings stated Trump’s choose of a former pharmaceutical govt was “like a fox guarding the hen home.”

Trump, who’s within the Philippines on a diplomatic journey, introduced the nomination on Twitter by saying Azar would “be a star for higher healthcare and decrease drug costs.”

Trump’s first well being secretary, former U.S. Consultant Tom Worth, resigned in September amid a public furor over his use of costly taxpayer-funded non-public constitution jets for presidency journey.

Azar labored at Eli Lilly (LLY.N) and Co for a decade, together with 5 years as president of its Lilly USA unit, and left the corporate in January, in response to his LinkedIn web page.

Cummings and Senator Bernie Sanders, a 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, final 12 months known as for a federal probe into whether or not Eli Lilly, Sanofi SA (SASY.PA), Merck & Co Inc (MRK.N) and Novo Nordisk A/S (NOVOb.CO) colluded to set costs on insulin and different diabetes medicine.

“This can be a slap within the face to tens of millions of People who’re ready on (the President) to take motion to decrease drug costs,” Cummings wrote on Twitter. He additionally pointed to Eli Lilly elevating drug costs by double digits whereas Azar was an govt on the firm.

Azar, although a spokesman, declined to remark.

Different Democrats had been extra cautious of their response to Trump’s announcement, with Senator Chuck Schumer calling for the well being company to show over a brand new leaf with Azar.

Democratic Senator Patty Murray, who has been engaged on bipartisan healthcare laws, tweeted, “Given Alex Azar’s skilled background, there are issues on whether or not he can pretty execute any vital effort to decrease drug costs for sufferers & households.”

Republicans had been supportive with Senate well being committee head Lamar Alexander of Tennessee describing Azar as a professional, skilled nominee.

Azar additionally drew reward from PhRMA, the biggest pharmaceutical trade commerce group and America’s Well being Insurance coverage Plans, the important thing lobbyist for the insurer trade.

Azar served a number of years on the board of administrators of the Biotechnology Innovation Group, a drug trade lobbying group, and earlier was normal counsel and deputy secretary for Well being and Human Companies underneath former Republican President George W. Bush.

Affected person advocacy group Public Citizen stated Azar has made it clear he’s against measures “to restrain prescription firms’ profiteering and restrict improper advertising and marketing” and that he favors weaker security approval requirements.

As head of HHS, Azar would have oversight duty for the U.S. Meals and Drug Administration, which regulates the drug trade together with approving new remedies.

Azar’s nomination have to be permitted by the U.S. Senate, which is managed by Trump’s fellow Republicans.

Reporting by Caroline Humer and Yasmeen Abutaleb; Extra reporting by Susan Heavey and Susan Cornwell; enhancing by Michele Gershberg and Tom Brown

Our Requirements:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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