Meet Lebanese-origin Alex Azar, Trump's pick for health secretary

Alex Azar

Azar, who served as the head of Eli Lilly's USA operations for five years until he stepped down from the position in January, previously served as deputy secretary of HHS under the George W. Bush administration.

President Donald Trump will nominate former pharmaceutical executive and industry lobbyist Alex Azar to the top post at the Department of Health and Human Services, according to news reports.

"He will be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices", President Donald Trump said in a tweet announcing Azar as his pick on Monday.

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

Dr. Azar's father immigrated to the US from Lebanon about 100 years ago, now his grandson is serving in the nation's cabinet.

Trump's first health secretary, former US Representative Tom Price, resigned in September amid a public furor over his use of expensive taxpayer-funded private charter jets for government travel.

Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said Azar has qualifications and experience to get results and he will quickly schedule a hearing on his nomination.

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"This is a slap in the face to millions of Americans who are waiting on (the President) to take action to lower drug prices", Cummings wrote on Twitter.

Azar said about joining the company.

The National Community Pharmacists Association said in a statement that Azar's background in the pharmaceutical industry means he understands supply chain issues and players that will be helpful to him in his role at HHS.

Trump, who once said that drugmakers are "getting away with murder", has promised to get rising drug prices under control.

Azar served as a HHS official under the George W. Bush administration for about six years before joining the pharmaceutical complex in 2007.

As secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Azar would oversee health agencies including the Food and Drug Administration, which regulates pharmaceutical companies and medical devices, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which pay for prescription drugs.

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