People, Politics

Ex-Eli Lilly exec Azar lands HHS nomination as Trump champions lower drug prices

President Donald Trump may occasionally erupt with passionate criticism for biopharma companies and the execs who run them, but once again he’s going with an industry insider for a top government post. The nation’s 45th president just tweeted that he has nominated Alex Azar as the next secretary of Health and Human Services.

“He will be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices!,” Trump exclaimed. Azar’s last job was as Eli Lilly’s US chief. The sharp, Yale educated attorney did not have a rep for slashing drug prices at Lilly, which he left during a big executive reshuffle after Dave Ricks grabbed the CEO’s job.

Alex Azar speaking at an event in 2014 MIT


He’ll be working with FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, another industry insider now in charge of regulating the business.

And he’ll be returning to HHS a second time. His earlier stint was general counsel and deputy secretary at the department in the George W Bush administration. Azar was on one of my panels about 16 months ago and ably provided the audience a sharp and concise representation of the kind of opportunities and pitfalls a Big Pharma like Lilly has to navigate every day.

 


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