Trump names new health sec:


Arab Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Turn­ing to an in­dus­try he’s re­buked, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Mon­day picked a for­mer top phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal and gov­ern­ment ex­ec­u­tive to be his health and hu­man ser­vices sec­re­tary, over­see­ing a $1 tril­lion depart­ment re­spon­si­ble for ma­jor health in­sur­ance pro­grams, med­i­cal re­search, food and drug safety, and pub­lic health.

The nom­i­na­tion of Alex Azar is un­usual be­cause HHS sec­re­taries have tended to come from the ranks of elected of­fi­cials such as gov­er­nors, lead­ers in academia and medicine, or top ex­ec­u­tive branch man­agers — not in­dus­tries reg­u­lated by the depart­ment.

“He will be a star for bet­ter health­care and lower drug prices!” Trump tweeted in an­nounc­ing the nom­i­na­tion Mon­day morn­ing. Trump has a track record of mak­ing in­dus­tryfriendly nom­i­na­tions, such as tap­ping for­mer ExxonMo­bil CEO Rex Tiller­son as sec­re­tary of state and bil­lion­aire busi­ness­man Wil­bur Ross as sec­re­tary of com­merce.

But Trump also has been a scathing critic of the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­dus­try, both as a can­di­date and as pres­i­dent.

Azar, 50, a lawyer by train­ing, has spent most of the last 10 years with phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal gi­ant Eli Lilly, ris­ing to pres­i­dent of its key US af­fil­i­ate be­fore leav­ing in Jan­uary to start his own con­sult­ing firm. He’s seen as an ex­pert on gov­ern­ment health care reg­u­la­tion.

As sec­re­tary, Azar would be re­turn­ing to HHS af­ter serv­ing in se­nior depart­ment posts in the Ge­orge W. Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion. Now he’d have to scrupu­lously avoid con­flicts with Lilly’s far-reach­ing in­ter­ests, from drug ap­proval to Medi­care re­im­burse­ment. The drug­maker has drawn crit­i­cism from pa­tient ad­vo­cacy groups for price in­creases to one of its big­gest prod­ucts: in­sulin. (AP)


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