Alex Azar, who President Donald Trump intends to nominate secretary of HHS, said he believes pharmaceutical companies are not to blame for the high cost of prescription drugs, which contradicts much of President Trump's rhetoric on the issue, according toBloomberg.
Azar served several years on the board of directors of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, a drug industry lobbying group, and earlier was general counsel and deputy secretary for Health and Human Services under former Republican President George W. Bush. Azar previously served as a high-ranking executive at Eli Lilly, which has repeatedly raised the prices of its drugs, doubling the USA list price of its top-selling insulin over the 5 years he served as a company president.
A graduate of Yale Law School and Dartmouth College, Azar's story is the epitome of the American dream according to his father, Dr. Alex Azar.
"We need an HHS secretary who is willing to take on the greed of the pharmaceutical industry and lower prescription drug prices", he said, "not one who has financially benefited from this greed". Azar stepped down from Lilly after more than a decade to start up a health care consulting firm, Seraphim Strategies, LLC.
The Trump administration has sought to repeal and then to weaken the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama's signature health care legislation. He will be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices! In contrast, at a panel previous year hosted by the Manhattan Institute, Mr. Azar said it is up to drugmakers, not the government, to determine the cost of drugs. "If he wants to take meaningful action to lower drug prices, we want to help him".
Azar, though a spokesman, declined to comment.
Meanwhile, representatives from the pharmaceutical, insurance and healthcare industries, particularly those that have directly worked with him n his government and private sector roles, issued statements in support of Azar. Azar appears to prefer moving authority to the states over Medicaid.
"We're encouraged by the fact that Mr. Azar has experience creating the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, he was there at the inception of ONC", said Tom Leary, vice president for government relations at HIMSS. Lamar Alexander, who chairs the Senate health committee.
Other Democrats were more cautious in their response to Trump's announcement, with Senator Chuck Schumer calling for the health agency to turn over a new leaf with Azar.
Trump's nomination of Azaro has been met with some scrutiny.
Azar's nomination must be approved by the Senate.