Trump selects former pharma executive Alex Azar to lead HHS

FILE: Alex Azar, HHS secretary nominee

Eli Lilly via Wikimedia Commons

Last Updated Nov 13, 2017 12:35 PM EST

President Trump has selected former pharmaceutical executive Alex Azar as his newest pick to lead the department of Health and Human Services. 

Mr. Trump tweeted while overseas of his intentions to tap Azar, writing that Azar "will be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices!"

Vice President Mike Pence applauded the move by Trump, saying the president "continues to recruit smart and capable leaders focused on Making America Great Again." He added that Azar would bring "decades of health care experience" to his HHS post. 

This wouldn't be Azar's first stint with the Department, previously serving as general counsel and later as deputy secretary of HHS under President George W. Bush's administration. 

Following his time at HHS, he rose to role of President of Eli Lilly USA, a global pharmaceutical company. 

He comes on board after Mr. Trump selected Eric Hargan to serve as acting HHS secretary last month, filling the vacant spot left by former secretary Tom Price who resigned amid of flurry of probes into his government travel.  

In a statement from White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Price "offered his resignation" and "the president accepted" late September.

Mr. Trump had indicated he might fire Price, and said he was "not happy" with the "optics" of the situation. Mr. Trump at the time called Price a "very fine person." 

Politico first reported that Price had billed the government for at least $400,000 in private charter planes. A second report found that Price also used at least $500,000 worth of military jet travel abroad for him and his wife, Betty.

In his letter to the president, Price cited the recent controversies surrounding his expensive travel, saying "I have spent forty years both as a doctor and public servant putting people first. I regret that the recent events have created a distraction from these important objectives." 

Price's tenure in the Trump administration lasted less than eight months. 

This is a developing story.


  • Emily Tillett

    Emily Tillett is a politics reporter and video editor for CBS News Digital