PhRMA faces slew of exec exits as it readies for drug pricing fight

Pharma’s lobbying group is gearing up for a battle over soaring drug prices--but it’ll have to fight that battle without several of its top employees.

Several members of the top brass at the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America--PhRMA--are getting ready to make their departure, Roll Call reports. And the group’s top Republican and Democratic representatives--Charles Clapton and Pam Smith--are among them, sources tell the publication.

The group’s VP of federal advocacy, Jennifer Romans, also recently headed for the door, and Roll Call’s sources say they expect others to follow her out.

The exits come at a crucial moment for PhRMA, which has taken a beating over the past year as companies including Turing and Valeant drew fire from politicians and the public alike over drug price hikes. It’s already spent $11.7 million on lobbying this year, a near record-breaking tally, Roll Call notes.

And with both presidential candidates having slammed drug costs, things are only on track to get more intense--and PhRMA knows it. It’s preparing to shell out hundreds of millions of dollars on a grassroots campaign around the country, Politico reported last week.

But the group is also bringing in new blood to help with the fight. CEO Steve Ubl, who took up the reins last year, has already hired a new general counsel, head of international advocacy and Rodger Currie as executive vice president for advocacy. Currie, who previously worked at PhRMA, is seen as very aggressive and seen as a good pick to rekindle the group's efforts. 

“It’s not at all uncommon for a new CEO to come in and examine their senior team,” Nels Olson, co-leader of the board & CEO services practice at executive search firm Korn Ferry, told Roll Call. “As they gear up for legislative and regulatory battles, Steve wants to make sure he has the right people on his team.”

Meanwhile, PhRMA is looking for other ways to get the message across that it wants to be part of the conversation around drug prices. It recently admitted Teva--the world’s generics leader--to its ranks in an effort to do just that, despite protests from AbbVie and other branded rivals that having a knockoffs maker on the PhRMA roster could create friction among members.

- get more from Roll Call

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