Pharma wins, pharmacies lose in Senate

As the Senate Finance Committee prepares to vote on its latest version of healthcare reform, pharma can breathe a sigh of relief. It's among the few industry winners in this reform incarnation, having beat back a multitude of attempts to cut more costs than the $80 billion already promised early this year.

Bloomberg points out that PhRMA's cost-cutting pledge--made to Finance Chairman Max Baucus and negotiators from the White House--appears to have done exactly what it was intended to do: stave off further losses of revenue. Baucus rallied enough senators on his committee to uphold that deal, which was the first healthcare industry pledge to reform. He got help from senators from New Jersey and Delaware, two states that major pharma firms call home.

Now, that doesn't mean the $80 billion limit will survive the full Senate vote. Some senators would love to make hay with their constituents by attacking Big Pharma. But if Baucus & Co. can corral their supporters, the PhRMA negotiations might just survive. Once the Senate bill gets to conference committee, however, pharma could find itself back in big-time defense mode. No time to relax just yet.

- read the Bloomberg analysis