Pharma gets White House reimportation pledge

Big Pharma hit the White House yesterday, with PhRMA president Billy Tauzin ushering CEOs into a meeting on the cost-saving agreement hammered out last month. While they were there, they discussed some other agenda items, too. Namely reimportation of prescription drugs, an idea President Obama endorsed during the campaign but drugmakers adamantly oppose.

And to hear Tauzin tell it, they got good news. Tauzin told the Wall Street Journal that White House officials assured him and the pharma execs that reimportation won't be necessary provided healthcare reform passes. That must have cheered the CEOs, who included Merck's Richard Clark (photo), Pfizer's Jeff Kindler (photo), Amgen's Kevin Sharer (photo), Abbott Laboratories' Miles White (photo), and last but not least, the current PhRMA chair and AstraZeneca chief David Brennan (photo).

As the New York Times reports today, this is just one example of the "assurances" lawmakers are giving healthcare companies that have ironed out cost-cutting deals to foster healthcare reform. The horse trading could end up backfiring, experts point out, if the money saved is offset by the cost of keeping those promises.

- read the WSJ piece
- check out the story in the Times