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

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

In a tweet from Manila, President Trump on Monday announced that he will nominate Alex Azar, a former pharmaceutical executive and healthcare official during the George W. Bush administration, to be his new secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Azar's nomination for HHS Secretary follows the ascendance of Seema Verma, who now leads the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, and former State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, who became Surgeon General this summer. Price racked up roughly $1 million in private and government air travel in just seven months, according to Politico. He rose to become president of the company's largest affiliate, Lilly USA, in 2012.

Critics mocked the selection by a president who promised to drain the Washington "swamp" of lobbyists and has complained about "RIPOFF DRUG PRICES" on Twitter.

If confirmed, Azar, who is from Lebanese origins, also would take the lead in implementing Trump's campaign promise to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, the 2010 healthcare overhaul passed under former Democratic President Barack Obama. Investigations into Price's actions are ongoing.

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Azar, though a spokesman, declined to comment.

But Azar's pharmaceutical industry background prompted immediate questions about potential conflicts of interest and criticism from Democrats, who expressed concern about how he will handle Obamacare and whether he will be tough on drug makers.

Patient advocacy organization Public Citizen said Azar has made it clear he is opposed to measures "to restrain prescription companies' profiteering and limit improper marketing" and that he favors weaker safety approval standards.

"I will carefully review Mr. Azar's nomination for this critically important position", said Donnelly in a statement. "He had full responsibility as deputy secretary for the regulatory processes at HHS".

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