“What an honor it is today to become the 24th Secretary of Health and Human Services, here in the United States. Only in America, the grandchild and great-grandchild of immigrants from Lebanon, from the Ukraine, from England, and Switzerland gets to have that opportunity.” These were the first words of Alex Azar, minutes after he was sworn in as Head of the Department of Health and Human Services. Not much later, President Trump promised in public that Azar is going to get the prescription prices “rocketing down”. That supplementary remark was made pointing to the new Secretary’s previous experience as a top drug-company executive. At his former position, Azar raised the cost of medications.
Alex Michael Azar II is an Arab American with Lebanese origin and a lawyer by education. He was nominated as Health Secretary by President Trump on November 13, 2017, and confirmed by the United States Senate on January 24, 2018.
He was the United States Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services under George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007. From 2012 to 2017, Azar was President of the U.S. division of Eli Lilly and Company, a major pharmaceutical drug company. Meanwhile, he was a member of the board of directors of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, a pharmaceutical lobby.
Reactions following the swearing-in ceremony were ambiguous. Democrats, in general, and NGOs were not exactly praising the Secretary.