Just two days after Alex Azar was sworn in as the new head of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Azar accepted the resignation of his CDC director.
Brenda Fitzgerald resigned this morning, a day after POLITICO reported that she bought shares in a tobacco company  not long after taking the job — a serious conflict of interest considering that as CDC director she was tasked with reducing tobacco use.
She also bought stock in Merck & Co., Bayer, and Humana, per the POLITICO report.
From the official HHS statement : “Dr. Fitzgerald owns certain complex financial interests that have imposed a broad recusal limiting her ability to complete all of her duties as the CDC Director. Due to the nature of these financial interests, Dr. Fitzgerald could not divest from them in a definitive time period. After advising Secretary Azar of both the status of the financial interests and the scope of her recusal, Dr. Fitzgerald tendered, and the Secretary accepted, her resignation. The Secretary thanks Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald for her service and wishes her the best in all her endeavors.”
Dr. Anne Schuchat will serve as CDC’s active director, according to the agency’s website , while a permanent replacement is sought.
Fitzgerald’s departure comes as CDC combats one of the most severe flu seasons in recent memory , with dozens of deaths across the country.
It also means more changes at HHS, which figures to be under the scrutiny of President Donald Trump. When swearing in Azur on Monday, Trump vowed that his new HHS secretary was “going to get those prescription drug prices way down .” Azur and Fitzgerald’s eventual replacement must also take on the opioid crisis — a topic Trump touched upon again during last night’s State of the Union address .