The Senate Finance Committee will vote on the nomination of Alex Azar as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services during an executive session tomorrow.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, has scheduled the markup of the nomination for 10 a.m. on Wednesday.
If approved, Azar’s nomination will go to a full Senate vote at a later date.
During a hearing before the Senate Finance Committee earlier this month, Azar was questioned by Democratic lawmakers about his commitment to lowering skyrocketing drug prices since those costs more than doubled for certain prescriptions while he was the head of Eli Lilly’s U.S. operation. But Azar said that no one drug company can fix the system.
There is also no “silver bullet” to fix the complex issue of drug pricing, Azar told the committee. He said he’d advocate for robust competition in the biosimilar market and going after drug companies that “game” the system by protecting their branded drug patents and delaying competition for generics.
Despite concerns with his ties to the pharmaceutical industry, Azar is considered likely to get the support of the Senate Finance Committee and later the full Senate. He has successfully gone through the confirmation process before for two positions at HHS. Azar served as the general counsel for HHS from 2001 to 2005 and later became the deputy secretary under then-HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt, a position he held for two years.
If confirmed by the full Senate, Azar will replace Tom Price, M.D., who resigned in late September after controversy over reports he spent nearly $1 million in taxpayer money to travel on private and government planes for government business.