Trump nominates pharma insider Azar to lead HHS

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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. "I don't think anybody can question his credentials from an experience perspective".

Azar's Senate confirmation could be hard, with the chamber's 48 Democrats unlikely to approve a candidate who supports dismantling the Affordable Care Act. But it is highly unlikely that a pharmaceutical company executive who has made passionate arguments against price restraints is going to advance real reform. He also pointed to Eli Lilly raising drug prices by double digits while Azar was an executive at the company. We need an HHS secretary who is willing to take on the greed of the pharmaceutical industry and lower prescription drug prices, not one who has financially benefitted from this greed.

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Azar, though a spokesman, declined to comment. It will be interesting to see if Azar attempts to unravel his personal holdings prior to confirmation hearings, or go the route that Trump and many of his other Cabinet picks have and just ignore the norm of divestiture for public service. 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.

Alex Azar is the latest Hoosier headed to Washington for a post in the federal health sector.

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Currently, Azar is the chairman and founder of Seraphim Strategies, which provides strategic consulting and counsel on biopharmaceutical and health insurance industries.

Azar's nomination must be approved by the Senate. He served as the HHS deputy secretary under President George W. Bush.

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