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Trump to tap ex-pharma executive Azar as USA health secretary

14 November 2017

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". For those opposed to the path Trump has been taking Health and Human Services, Alex Azar symbolizes yet another attack on the progress made by the Affordable Care Act with his policy preferences aimed at undercutting and reversing numerous ACA's provisions. In 2012, he became the president of the company's affiliate for North America, Lilly USA.

Azar's nomination must be approved by the U.S. Senate, which is controlled by Trump's fellow Republicans. His supporters say that Azar's understanding of the complicated dynamics behind pharmaceuticals pricing will give him an advantage in figuring out how to make drugs more affordable.

Azar's grandfather immigrated from Lebanon 100 years ago. "He also appreciates the need to have access to healthcare data and interoperability of health information systems". With the Alex Azar pick, Donald Trump is choosing someone with experience in both the industry in general and the agency in particular he is meant to lead. Azar joined Lilly in 2007 as a senior vice president of global corporate affairs and communications.

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When he worked with HLC, Grealy said that during deliberations, he was a strong and influential voice for health system transformation to achieve greater value as defined by affordability and consistent clinical quality without disparities. "I don't think it's possible to reform the system unless you truly understand this very complicated system we've created", says Adam Fein, president of Pembroke Consulting.

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. 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.

Trump to tap ex-pharma executive Azar as USA health secretary