Azar has ties to members of the administration, including Vice President Mike Pence, HHS acting Secretary Eric Hargan and Domestic Policy Council Director Andrew Bremberg.
On Monday, President Donald Trump nominated Alex Azar, who was most recently president of pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly USA, as new head of the Department of Health and Human Services. Working in HHS in former President George W. Bush's administration, he served as the department's general counsel from 2001 to 2005 and then assumed the role of deputy secretary for the next two years.
Mr. Trump made his announcement in a Twitter post while traveling in Asia.
'Why Not Freddy Krueger?' Trump Picks Big Pharma Exec Alex Azar to Head HHS
But committee chairman Sen Lamar Alexander, a republican from Tennessee, cast Mr Azar as a problem solver, saying "he has the qualifications and experience to get results".
In particular, Azar has suggested that the government could lower premiums through reinsurance programs-which provide a backstop to insurers by helping to cover the cost of high cost patients.
The top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee that will vet the nominee, Sen.
Indeed, has even accused the drug industry of corruption, arguing that pharmaceutical companies contribute "massive amounts of money" to politicians as part of a scheme to keep the cost of medicines higher. He could also be useful in the Trump administration's efforts to roll back expensive prescription drug pricing. In the settlement, the company pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor criminal charge and agreed to pay a fine of $1.415 billion.
If confirmed, Azar would join the club of Trump administration officials from big business.
Azar would be Trump's second HHS secretary, replacing former Georgia congressman Tom Price, ousted after his use of private charter planes for government travel displeased the president.
Between 1999 and 2005, according to an investigation carried out by-among others-the FDA's Office of Criminal Investigations and the FDA's Office of Chief Counsel, Eli Lilly engaged in systematic and illegal off-label sales of a psychiatric drug called Zyprexa.
"We need an HHS secretary who is willing to take on the greed of the pharmaceutical industry and lower prescription drug prices, not one who has financially benefitted from this greed", Sanders said. Tillerson was CEO of ExxonMobil.
In 2009, with Azar still leading Lilly public affairs and lobbying efforts, it settled all criminal and civil federal allegations against it related to Zyprexa.
He said he was not bothered, at this point, by Azar's affiliation with Eli Lilly: "He knows the inside of the way the industry works; maybe he comes up with clever solutions".