Tuesday, July 28, 2009

How Can We Miss You If You Won't Go Away?

Former Louisiana congressman Billy Tauzin is back in the national news as CEO of PhRMA, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. As you might imagine, PhRMA is playing a major role lobbying in proposed health care reform bills now being debated in Congress. NPR ran a story detailing the lobbying efforts of PhRMA, noting that the group and it's members have spent $40 million in the last three months lobbying congress.
"We're working with groups we never worked with before — Families USA, the American Agenda, labor, health care providers — that never stood together on the same platform," says Tauzin. "We have every business reason to want to see this happen, and we have every moral reason to see this happen, because our patients are our first concern."

"Of course they're supportive — they're getting exactly what they want," says Jerry Avorn, a professor at Harvard Medical School. He, for one, is not shocked to hear that brand-name drug companies spent $40 million in three months.

"It's not surprising to learn this, because the pharmaceutical industry for years has been one of the most effective and powerful lobbying outfits in Washington, and it explains why we have a lot of drug policies in the U.S. that don't look like drug policies in any other industrialized country," says Avorn.

This is not to pass judgment on the merits of PhRMA's arguments, but rather to show just how much money and lobbying it uses to back them up — and the winning streak in Congress that follows.

You can read/listen to the story here.

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