Senate confirms Alex Azar as new HHS Secretary

Alex Azar will take over the Department of Health and Human Services at a time when rising drug prices are a huge political issue

With the expected confirmation of Alex Azar - who is a former Eli Lilly executive - as the new Secretary of HHS, the Administration may initiate action.

Mr. Azar's nomination was confirmed 55 votes to 43, with all but one Republican voting in favor of the nomination, along with six Democrats and one Independent. Sen.

"On Mr. Azar's watch", Mr. Wyden said, "the price of Forteo, a Lilly drug used to treat osteoporosis, more than doubled", as did the prices for Humalog, used to treat diabetes, and Strattera, for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

When President Donald Trump announced Azar's nomination in November, the president tweeted that "He will be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices!"

"With experience both on the company side and the government side of health care, he is now only more experienced and knowledgeable", Finance Committee chairman Senator Orrin Hatch said on the Senate floor.

A top executive with Eli Lilly for almost nine years, Azar will replace Tom Price, who resigned last fall amid a scandal over his use of private planes while leading the department.

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A former clerk for pro-life Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia will become the next HHS Secretary as Senate Republicans approved Alex Azar today after successfully turning back a Democrat filibuster yesterday. "Mr. Azar went through the revolving door from drug companies to the federal government".

Carper said he remains concerned about Azar's perspectives on Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., he is "a flawless encapsulation of the president's broken promises on prescription drugs and health care overall".

"There is no reason to expect him to hold prescription corporations accountable, and every reason to anticipate that his tenure will enable Big Pharma to continue and worsen its blatant rip-offs of American consumers and taxpayers", Peter Maybarduk, director of Public Citizen's Access to Medicines Program, said in a statement.

That effort, however, has the potential to further destabilize health insurance markets, including in Maryland, and Azar will have a hand in addressing the impact. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, had also cited his record as a pharmaceutical executive as the reason for his "no" vote.

He called reversing the incentive for high list prices - even if that's not the price most people pay after insurance or other factors are considered - the most important nut to crack. By contrast, he had received unanimous Senate support when he was nominated to serve as the department's general counsel in 2001, and then as the agency's No. 2 official in 2005.

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