Azar grew up in Salisbury, Maryland, where he attended Parkside High School. He received an A.B. summa cum laude with highest honors in government and economics from Dartmouth College in 1988. He earned his law degree at the Yale Law School in 1991, where he served as a member of the executive committee of the Yale Law Journal.
After law school, he served as a law clerk for Judge J. Michael Luttig of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and then as a law clerk for Associate Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1992 to 1993.
He served as an Associate Independent Counsel in the Office of the Independent Counsel, Kenneth W. Starr, where he worked on first two years of the Whitewater investigation. He was an Associate and then Partner at the Washington D.C. law firm, Wiley, Rein, and Fielding LLP until 2001.
From 2001 until February 3, 2007, Azar worked at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, first as the General Counsel of the Department (2001-2005), and then as the Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services (2005-2007). He was twice confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate. As Deputy Secretary, Azar worked closely with Secretary Mike Leavitt as the number two official and Chief Operating Officer of the largest civilian department in the federal government, with a budget of $698 billion and more than 66,000 employees reporting up to him.
On behalf of Secretary Mike Leavitt, Azar supervised all operations of HHS, including the regulation of food and drugs, Medicare, Medicaid, medical research, public health, welfare, child and family services, disease prevention, Indian health, mental health services, emergency preparedness and response, and many other activities. Agencies that reported to him included, among others, the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Azar led the development and approval of all HHS regulations. He was a member of the Deputies Committees of the White House Homeland Security Council, National Economic Council, and Domestic Policy Council, and an ad hoc member of the Deputies Committee of the National Security Council. He also represented the Secretary on the Board of Governors of the American Red Cross and the Board of Trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
When he left HHS, Azar joined Eli Lilly and Company as the Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Communications (2007-2009), where he was a member of the company’s executive committee and had responsibility for the company’s global communications, government affairs, public policy, advocacy, and pricing, reimbursement, and access organizations. He then moved to Lilly’s U.S. affiliate, Lilly USA, LLC, where he was the Vice President of Lilly’s U.S. Managed Healthcare Services organization as well as its Puerto Rico affiliate from 2009-2011.
Alex Azar served for five years (2012-2017) as President of Lilly USA, LLC, the largest affiliate of global biopharmaceutical leader Eli Lilly and Company, producing over $10 billion in revenue, almost half of Lilly’s global revenue (2016). Azar’s responsibilities included direction over Lilly USA, LLC, the legal entity that houses the sales, marketing, and payer operations of the company’s entire U.S. commercial business: the U.S. Biomedicines, Diabetes, and Oncology business units. He also directly led U.S. Biomedicines, the affiliate’s largest division, encompassing the areas of neuroscience, cardiovascular health, men’s health, musculoskeletal, autoimmune disease, Alzheimer’s disease, pain, and Managed Healthcare Services.
In January 2017, Azar left Eli Lilly and Company to pursue other professional opportunities.
As he explores new leadership opportunities, Azar formed Seraphim Strategies, LLC, which provides strategic consulting and counsel on the biopharmaceutical and health insurance industries, including biopharmaceutical sales, marketing, pricing, reimbursement, access, and distribution, as well as federal and state healthcare policy.
Azar serves on the boards of HMS Holdings Corporation (NASDAQ: HMSY), the American Council on Germany (Chairman of the Strategic Planning Committee), and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.
He previously served on the Boards of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) (Executive Committee and Co-Chairman of the Reimbursement Committee), the Healthcare Leadership Council (Treasurer), the National Association of Manufacturers, and the Indianapolis Airport Authority (Chairman of the Human Resources Committee).
He currently lives in Indianapolis with his wife and two children.
Azar led U.S. government efforts to encourage worldwide pharmaceutical and medical device innovation. He also served as the U.S. Co-Chair of the U.S.-E.U. Summit on Prevention and was a member of the U.S.-Ireland Research and Development Steering Committee.
Mr. Azar is a recipient of the Surgeon General's Medallion, the highest medal awarded to civilians by the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.
Azar is a frequent guest on national business television networks discussing the Affordable Care Act, Medicare and Medicaid, health insurance, the regulation of pharmaceuticals, drug innovation and commercial marketing, and drug pricing.
His speech, “Generic Medicines: The Gift of Innovation,” to the Harris School of Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago has been reprinted in Vital Speeches of the Day and the book Contemporary American Speeches.
Azar has been a leading speaker around the globe on the effective health system and public policy environment preconditions for long-term sustained innovation in health care technology, and while in government was a leading speaker on pandemic influenza preparedness and on the value-based transformation of health care.
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), a number one Wall Street Journal business best seller.