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

Alex Azar at HHS:

He also worked at pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly for almost a decade, according to his LinkedIn profile, and spent about four years on the board of directors of a drug industry lobbying group.

President Donald Trump announced Monday he would nominate former pharmaceutical executive Alex Azar for the position of HHS secretary.

If confirmed by the Senate, Azar would replace Tom Price, who resigned as secretary under pressure on September 29 after a series of stories in Politico documented his repeated use of private jets and government aircraft instead of commercial planes, at a cost of more than $400,000.

In contrast to Mr. Price, an orthopedic surgeon and former Republican congressman, Mr. Azar is a lawyer and health care expert who allies predicted would use his deep knowledge of the federal bureaucracy to advance Mr. Trump's agenda of undermining President Barack Obama's health care law.

Democrats have also sought greater transparency in setting drug prices from pharmaceutical executives. Still, drug pricing talk hasn't gotten serious in Congress and four Congressmen wrote to the president last month to say his "inaction" on their Medicare negotiation proposal has left them with no option other than to press ahead alone. "I will vigorously oppose this nomination".

Azar also drew praise from PhRMA, the largest pharmaceutical industry trade group and America's Health Insurance Plans, the key lobbyist for the insurer industry.

A conservative and Obamacare critic, Azar had worked at HHS during the George W. Bush administration, first as general counsel and then as deputy secretary.

As head of HHS, Azar would have oversight responsibility for the US Food and Drug Administration, which regulates the drug industry including approving new treatments.