PhRMA backs new Harry-and-Louise ads

Harry and Louise are back. The actors who starred in the infamous anti-healthcare reform commercials back in the '90s have gone turncoat, signing up for a new campaign in support of a healthcare revamp. Sponsoring the ads? None other than PhRMA, with some help from Families USA. "We ought to work together to find a good and successful health care compromise," PhRMA chief Billy Tauzin told the New York Times. "Middle-class people like Harry and Louise are not going to be living in a successful society if we don't do something about it."

The $4 million campaign starts this weekend and runs for three weeks. The NYT speculates that by funding it--and so publicly supporting the reform plans--drugmakers might garner even more political goodwill to add to their $80 billion cost-cutting deal with Sen. Max Baucus. And that goodwill has paid off, at least in the Senate, where the latest versions of healthcare reform leave out drug reimportation and Medicare price negotiation (as the Wall Street Journal reports). Of course all that is subject to ongoing negotiation and vote, as we reported yesterday.

Meanwhile, Harry and Louise will be telling the American public that reform is good. Ron Pollack of Families USA is hopeful that they will serve as a powerful illustration of just how different the reform efforts are this time around. "As you look at so many stories about health reform, so many people are using Harry and Louise as a verb, asking if health reform is going to be Harry and Louised," Pollack told Bloomberg. "Having Harry and Louise advertising in support of health-care reform is as strong a symbol of how different this health- care debate is this year."

- see the PhRMA release
- read the NYT piece
- check out the story from Bloomberg
- get more from the Wall Street Journal