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Alex Azar
Alex Azar official portrait 2.jpg
24th United States Secretary of Health and Human Services
Assumed office
January 29, 2018
PresidentDonald Trump
DeputyEric Hargan
Preceded byTom Price
United States Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services
In office
July 22, 2005 – February 4, 2007
PresidentGeorge W. Bush
Preceded byClaude Allen
Succeeded byTevi Troy
General Counsel of the United States Department of Health and Human Services
In office
August 8, 2001 – July 22, 2005
PresidentGeorge W. Bush
Preceded byHarriet S. Rabb
Succeeded byDaniel Meron
Personal details
Alex Michael Azar II

(1967-06-17) June 17, 1967 (age 52)
Johnstown, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Jennifer Azar
EducationDartmouth College (BA)
Yale University (JD)
Net worth$8.7 million[1]

Alex Michael Azar II (/ˈzər/ born June 17, 1967) is an American politician, lawyer, pharmaceutical lobbyist and former drug company executive who is the current United States Secretary of Health and Human Services, having been Deputy Secretary from 2005 to 2007. He was nominated by President Donald Trump on November 13, 2017, and confirmed by the Senate on January 24, 2018.[2][3]

From 2012 to 2017, Azar was President of the U.S. division of Eli Lilly and Company, a major pharmaceutical drug company, and was a member of the board of directors of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, a pharmaceutical lobby.

Early life

Azar was born on June 17, 1967, in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, the son of Lynda (Zarisky) and Alex Azar.[4][5] His father is of Lebanese Orthodox Christian descent.[6] His father, also named Alex Azar, is a retired doctor of ophthalmology and teacher at Johns Hopkins Hospital; he practiced ophthalmology in Salisbury, Maryland, for more than 30 years. His grandfather emigrated from Lebanon in the early 20th century.[7]

Azar attended Parkside High School in Salisbury, Maryland, from 1981 to 1985. He received a B.A. degree summa cum laude with highest honors in government and economics from Dartmouth College in 1988, where he was a member of the Kappa Kappa Kappa fraternity. He earned a J.D. degree at the Yale Law School in 1991, where he served as a member of the executive committee of the Yale Law Journal.[8][9]

Early career

Law career

Azar with Ken Starr and Brett Kavanaugh in the 1990s
Azar with Ken Starr and Brett Kavanaugh in the 1990s

After law school, from 1991 to 1992, Azar served as a law clerk for Judge Alex Kozinski of the United States Court of Appeals for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Azar left after six weeks, and was replaced in Kozinski's chambers by Brett Kavanaugh.[10] Azar subsequently clerked for the remainder of the term for Judge J. Michael Luttig of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. From 1992 to 1993, he served as a law clerk for Associate Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court of the United States.[7]

From 1994 to 1996, he served as an Associate Independent Counsel for Ken Starr in the United States Office of the Independent Counsel, where he worked on the first two years of the investigation into the Whitewater controversy.[11][12] At the time of Azar's appointment, he was working as an associate in Starr's law firm.[11]

Between 1996 and 2001, Azar worked for Wiley Rein, a Washington, D.C., law firm, where he achieved partner status.[13]

Health and Human Services

Official Deputy Secretary portrait
Official Deputy Secretary portrait

On August 3, 2001, Azar was confirmed to be the General Counsel of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.[14][15] Azar played an important role in responding to the 2001 anthrax attacks, making sure there was a vaccine ready for smallpox, and dealing with outbreaks of SARS and influenza.[7] On July 22, 2005, Azar was confirmed as the Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services.[16][17] He was twice confirmed unanimously by the United States Senate.

Working under Secretary Mike Leavitt, Azar supervised all operations of HHS with an annual budget of over $1 trillion. Azar led the development and approval of all HHS regulations, led U.S. government efforts to encourage worldwide pharmaceutical and medical device innovation, and was in charge of the HHS response to an initiative implemented by President George W. Bush to improve government performance.[7]

Azar resigned in January 2007.[18]

Eli Lilly & Co.

In June 2007, Azar was hired by Eli Lilly and Company chief executive officer Sidney Taurel to be the company's top lobbyist and spokesman as its Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Communications.[7][19] Azar left the position after Barack Obama was elected as the company wanted a member of the Democratic Party to have the position.[7]

In April 2009, Azar became Vice President of Lilly's U.S. Managed Healthcare Services organization and its Puerto Rico affiliate.[20] In 2009, the company paid $1.415 billion to settle criminal charges regarding its promotion of antipsychotic drug Zyprexa (olanzapine) for off-label uses between 1999 and 2005.[19]

Effective January 1, 2012, Azar became President of Lilly USA, LLC, the largest division of Eli Lilly and Company, and was responsible for the company's entire operations in the United States.[20] Prices for drugs rose substantially under Azar's leadership.[21] In connection with the position, Azar served on the board of directors of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, a pharmaceutical lobby.[22]

In January 2017, Azar resigned from Eli Lilly.[23] He also resigned from the board of directors of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization.

Secretary of Health and Human Services

Azar and his family (with President Trump and Vice President Pence) shortly after being sworn in as Secretary of Health and Human Services
Azar and his family (with President Trump and Vice President Pence) shortly after being sworn in as Secretary of Health and Human Services


On November 13, 2017, President Trump announced via Twitter that he would nominate Azar to be the next Secretary of Health and Human Services.[22][24][25] Azar was confirmed on January 24, 2018, with a vote of 55–43.[26]


He was sworn in by Vice President Pence on January 29, 2018.[27]

Healthcare policy

Azar has been a critic of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and predicted in 2017, "There will be a piece of legislation passes this year that is called the repeal of Obamacare. I don't know what's going to be in the substance of it, but there will be a piece of legislation that says that."[24] Also regarding the ACA, Azar said the Department of Health and Human Services has latitude to "make it work a little better".ref name=friend/>

Azar opposes abortion rights. In a written response to Senator Patty Murray regarding future HHS policy, he said, "The mission of HHS is to enhance the health and well-being of all Americans, and this includes the unborn."ref>"There's a New Health Secretary. What Will He Mean for Women's Health?". Time. Retrieved January 25, 2018.</ref>

According to The New York Times, Azar differed with his predecessor Tom Price in terms of their approach to regulations. Writing in May 2018, The Times said, "in a sharp break from his predecessor — and from most Trump cabinet secretaries — he seems to be relishing the chance to write new regulations, rather than just crossing out Obama-era ones."[28]

Personal life

Azar is an Orthodox Christian and lives in Indianapolis with his wife and two children.[29][30] Azar served for two years on the board of HMS Holdings.[31] He is currently on the board of the American Council on Germany, where he is Chairman of the Strategic Planning Committee; and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.[13]

He has previously served on the board of directors of the Healthcare Leadership Council, where he was Treasurer; the National Association of Manufacturers; and the Indianapolis International Airport Authority, where he was Chairman of the Human Resources Committee.[13]

Azar is a Republican and has contributed to the campaigns of Mike Pence, Mitch McConnell, Orrin Hatch, Lamar Alexander, Jeb Bush, and Donald Trump according to the Center for Responsive Politics.[7]

Notable works

Azar is a member of the Worldwide Speakers Group and gives speeches on healthcare public policy and how it fosters technology innovation. He is a notable speaker on pandemic influenza preparedness.[32]

An open letter from Azar is printed as the opening in the book by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling, The Four Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals (2012).

See also


  1. ^ Dixon, Kim (November 20, 2017). "HHS nominee Azar made millions working for drugmaker Lilly". Retrieved January 24, 2018.
  2. ^ "PN430 - Nomination of Alex Azar II for Department of Health and Human Services, 109th Congress (2005-2006)". U.S. Congress. July 22, 2005.
  3. ^ Delkic, Melina (November 13, 2017). "Who is Alex Azar? Trump's New HHS Secretary Pick Lobbied for Big Pharma". Newsweek. Retrieved January 25, 2018. In a press release announcing his departure in 2007, Azar said of his time in the administration ...
  4. ^ "'Only in America': Trump nominates Salisbury's Azar for top Cabinet post". Retrieved February 3, 2018.
  5. ^ "Obituary of ZARISKY, Sarah L. (Lamb), Cambria County, PA". Retrieved February 3, 2018.
  6. ^ "Secretary Azar Remarks at Enthronement of Archbishop Elpidophoros". The National Herald. June 25, 2019. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Groppe, Maureen (November 13, 2017). "Who is Alex Azar? Former drugmaker CEO and HHS official nominated to head agency". USA Today. Retrieved January 25, 2018.
  8. ^ "Biography of Alex Michael Azar II, Deputy Secretary". United States Department of Health & Human Services. June 19, 2006. Archived from the original on February 6, 2007. Retrieved December 31, 2018.
  9. ^ Aviv, Diana (October 21, 2005). "Faculty Biographies - 3rd Annual Washington Healthcare Summit" (PDF). American Bar Association. Retrieved December 31, 2018.
  10. ^ Mystal, Elie. "Could HHS Secretary Alex Azar Derail Brett Kavanaugh?". Above The Law. Retrieved September 25, 2018.
  11. ^ a b Risen, James (September 13, 1994). "Starr Names His First Whitewater Aides: Investigation: Independent counsel announces appointments to fill out prosecution team. He names a Fiske holdover as a top deputy". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 25, 2018.
  12. ^ Schmidt, Susan (September 13, 1994). "Whitewater Counsel Assembles Team". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 25, 2018.
  13. ^ a b c "Alex M. Azar II - Biography". World Congress.
  14. ^ "PN492 - Nomination of Alex Azar II for Department of Health and Human Services, 107th Congress (2001-2002)". United States Congress. August 3, 2001.
  15. ^ "Presidential Nomination: Alex Michael Azar". November 2, 2002. Archived from the original on November 2, 2002. Retrieved July 7, 2018.
  16. ^ "PN430 - Nomination of Alex Azar II for Department of Health and Human Services, 109th Congress (2005-2006)". United States Congress. July 22, 2005.
  17. ^ "Presidential Nomination: Alex Michael Azar". November 22, 2006. Archived from the original on November 22, 2006. Retrieved February 3, 2018.
  18. ^ "Azar resigns as HHS deputy secretary". BioCentury. January 17, 2007.(subscription required)
  19. ^ a b Mathis-Lilley, Ben (November 13, 2017). "Trump Health Secretary Nominee Left Job Overseeing Eli Lilly Investigation to Become Eli Lilly's Top Lobbyist". Slate.
  20. ^ a b "Lilly Announces Changes in Senior Management" (Press release). PRNewswire. October 11, 2011.
  21. ^ Nisen, Max (November 13, 2017). "Alex Azar Is a Friend to Health-Care Companies". Bloomberg L.P.
  22. ^ a b Vazquez, Maegan (November 13, 2017). "Trump picks former pharma exec, ex-Bush official to lead HHS department". CNN.
  23. ^ "Lilly to Adjust Organization and Leadership Structure to Better Align with Growth Opportunities" (Press release). PRNewswire. January 5, 2017.
  24. ^ a b Mangan, Dan (November 13, 2017). "Trump nominates former drug company executive Alex Azar as next Health and Human Services secretary". CNBC.
  25. ^ "What people are saying about Trump's pick of former Lilly exec Alex Azar to lead HHS". USA Today. November 13, 2017.
  26. ^ "Senate Confirms Trump Nominee Alex Azar as Health Secretary". January 24, 2018. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
  27. ^ Mangan, Dan (January 29, 2018). "Alex Azar sworn in as Trump's new health-care chief". Retrieved March 29, 2019.
  28. ^ "Trump's New Health and Human Services Secretary Is a Joyful Regulator". The New York Times. May 18, 2018. Retrieved May 19, 2018.
  29. ^ Delkic, Melina (November 13, 2017). "Who is Alex Azar? Trump's New HHS Secretary Pick Lobbied for Big Pharma". Newsweek.
  30. ^ Azar, Secretary Alex (January 18, 2019). "Great to join my fellow Orthodox Christians at the #MarchForLife, including His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, Primate of the Orthodox Church in". @SecAzar. Retrieved June 9, 2019.
  31. ^ Braun, Stephen (November 20, 2017). "Health secretary nominee reaped big earnings from drug industry tenure". Stat News. Associated Press. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
  32. ^ "Alex M. Azar II - Worldwide Speakers Group". Worldwide Speakers Group. Archived from the original on January 11, 2018. Retrieved August 10, 2017.

External links

Legal offices
Preceded by
Harriet S. Rabb
General Counsel of the United States Department of Health and Human Services
Succeeded by
Daniel Meron
Political offices
Preceded by
Claude Allen
United States Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services
Succeeded by
Tevi Troy
Preceded by
Tom Price
United States Secretary of Health and Human Services
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
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Eugene Scalia
as Secretary of Labor
Order of Precedence of the United States
as Secretary of Health and Human Services
Succeeded by
Ben Carson
as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
U.S. presidential line of succession
Preceded by
Eugene Scalia
as Secretary of Labor
12th in line
as Secretary of Health and Human Services
Succeeded by
Ben Carson
as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
This page was last edited on 6 November 2019, at 15:23
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