Drugmakers vow battle against House bill

With the U.S. House version of healthcare reform still moving forward, drugmakers are digging in. They're pledging to fight the House proposals it considers unfriendly to the industry, working closely with lobbyists and pushing back against sales projections that contradict industry talking points.

AstraZeneca CEO David Brennan (photo)--who's also the chairman of PhRMA this year--says the industry is set to fight the extra cost-cutting that bill requires. The House bill would require $140 billion worth of industry cuts; the industry's deal with the Senate requires only $80 billion. And pharma negotiated that deal originally to help stave off certain "we-won't-go-there" provisions. "We said there were principles we didn't want to see violated," Brennan told the Huffington Post (as quoted by Pharmalot). "And if those principles--price controls, Medicare rebates, moving dual eligibles back from Medicare and back into the Medicaid discount program--if those things happen, I can't see how we could be supportive."

Meanwhile, Brennan criticized the IMS Health report that broke last week that estimated healthcare reform would boost U.S. drug sales by 3.5 percent annually over the next several years. Drugmakers have been saying reform will be, at best, a wash for revenues. Brennan questioned IMS Health's ability to project sales out over several years, saying that the market now "is softer than we probably expected it to be a few years ago."

Lobbyists have been busy feeding friendly lawmakers statements they could make in support of the industry. The New York Times reports that 42 House members entered suspiciously similar statements into the Congressional Record, and more than a dozen reps submitted statements that were drafted at least partly by Genentech's lobbyists. As BNet Pharma notes, Genentech and its parent Roche spent $14.9 billion on lobbying over the past couple of years.

- see the Pharmalot post
- check out the story at BNet Pharma
- read the NYT piece