Pharma may chip in $20B to boost reform bill

Pharma may be forced to cough up more cost cuts in the battle for healthcare reform. The New York Times reports that last-minute balking in Congress has persuaded drugmakers that they might need to renegotiate that much-ballyhooed $80 billion deal with the Senate Finance Committee and the White House. And some industry sources are telling the Times that pharma's additional contribution to the cause could surpass $20 billion.

As you know, early in the healthcare reform fight, pharma agreed to shoulder $80 billion of the cost-cutting in return for protection from some reform measures such as Medicare price negotiation. Despite various sallies against the agreement--especially in the House, where lawmakers resented the fact that the Senate and White House had negotiated the deal without them--it has held fast. Until now.

What does PhRMA have to say about this? After all, it was PhRMA chief Billy Tauzin and this year's chairman David Brennan (AstraZeneca's CEO) who led the way on the $80 billion deal. Well, PhRMA SVP Ken Johnson says that industry lobbyists are willing to talk about a new deal, but that "there are limits" to what they are willing to give up. "We're not an ATM," he told the NYT. Indeed.

- read the NYT story