Generics industry loses top lobbyist Jaeger

Has healthcare reform claimed another pharma association chief?  Kathleen Jaeger, who led the lobbying charge for the generics industry during the reform debate, is stepping down from her role as chief of the Generic Pharmaceutical Association.

Jaeger's exit will be effective June 30 and follows months of tense negotiations over biosimilar drugs. The reform legislation included provisions to allow copycat versions of biotech drugs onto the U.S. market. Understandably, generics makers wanted to be able to knock off branded biologics as soon as they could; branded drugmakers wanted to retain exclusivity for as long as possible.

And the branded drugmakers prevailed. Despite calls from the Obama Administration for a biologics exclusivity of seven years--and GPhA lobbying for a period of five to seven years--the reform law granted biotech companies 12 years of exclusive rights.

Jaeger's counterpart at PhRMA, the branded drugmakers' association, announced his resignation as the healthcare reform fight floundered. PhRMA's Billy Tauzin had been instrumental in negotiating that famous $80 billion cost-cutting deal with the White House and Senate, and when he stepped down, that agreement appeared to be in jeopardy. Speculation linked Tauzin's resignation with the apparent failure of reform (which went on, of course, to clear Congress and become law).

Jaeger chalked up plenty of successes during her tenure at GPhA. Generics sales have been on a steady upward march, at least in part because of extensive public-relations work on behalf of copycat drugs. "During her tenure, she worked with the federal government to help educate the public on the substantial benefits, safety and quality of our products," says GPhA Chairman Paul Bisaro in a statement. "We will miss her vision, passion and dedication."

- see the GPhA statement
- read the Reuters story