Alex Azar at HHS: "Big Pharma's Coup"

Alex Azar at HHS:

Azar's nomination comes a little more than a month after the resignation of HHS Secretary Tom Price.

President of Public Citizen, Weissman said today: "Just weeks after denouncing "out-of-control" prescription prices, President Donald Trump shows he doesn't mean it by nominating a former pharmaceutical company executive to run the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services". There's little doubt Democrats will be grilling Azar during his confirmation hearing on his previous statements about drug prices and how he addressed the issue while at Eli Lilly. Mr. Azar, when he was president of Lilly USA, was an HLC member and served on the organization's executive committee. Price left HHS in September amid an investigation into his use of charter flights instead of cheaper commercial flights.

As HHS secretary, Azar would have to scrupulously avoid conflicts with Lilly's far-reaching interests, from drug approval to Medicare reimbursement.

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Cummings and Senator Bernie Sanders, a 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, past year called for a federal probe into whether Eli Lilly, Sanofi SA (SASY.PA), Merck & Co Inc (MRK.N) and Novo Nordisk A/S (NOVOb.CO) colluded to set prices on insulin and other diabetes drugs.

According to The Independent, Trump, who has a history of making industry-friendly nominations, tweeted about Azar: "He will be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices!"

In his quest to bring down drug prices, President Trump has advocated for policy proposals that the pharmaceutical industry opposes, including importing drugs from Canada.

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Azar's nomination must be approved by the Senate. He also has experience as a conservative lawyer, serving as a clerk for Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court in the early 1990s after graduating from Yale Law School.

"He has the chance to stand up for patients because he knows exactly how the drug pricing system is broken", said.Wakana, who previously served as the head of HHS communications under the Obama administration.

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