Former pharma executive Alex Azar has been sworn in as the head of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), following the release of an agency report touting its accomplishments under President Trump.
At his swearing in this morning, Azar was tasked by President Trump to lower drug prices and wage a winning battle against the nationwide opioid crisis.
“He will help lead our efforts to confront the national emergency of addiction and death due to opioids and I think we’re going to be very tough on the drug companies in that regard and tough on doctors in that regard, because what’s going on is pretty incredible,” said Trump.
“I will say this, prescription drug prices is going to be one of the big things and whenever I speak to Alex, I speak to him about that prior to anything else, and I know you can do it, you know the system and you can do it because it’s wrong,” the president said to Azar and those gathered for the swearing in by Vice President Mike Pence.
The concommitant report, titled “2017: A Year of Accomplishment,” goes on for 36 single-spaced pages of mostly bullet-pointed achievements and offers little in the way of an executive summary or forward.
In presenting the report, however, HHS press secretary Caitlin Oakley said: “In 2017, HHS took bold action to advance its mission to protect and enhance the health and well-being of the American people. From a newly aggressive approach to combat the opioid crisis to round-the-clock responses to three major hurricanes, the men and women of HHS did extraordinary work this past year to foster healthier Americans, stronger communities, and a safer country.”
Some the the topics the report covers include rolling back regulations, fighting opioid addiction, advancing patient-centered treatment, lowering the cost of drugs, addressing mental illness and suicide, and protecting life and religious liberty (see graphic for some highlights from the report).