PhRMA's reform-friendly lobbyist steps down

Has healthcare reform done in Billy Tauzin (photo)? The pharma industry's top lobbyist and ex-U.S. Congressman says he's stepping down as of June 30, and according to news reports, the resignation comes amidst criticism from members of PhRMA. His departure will be announced officially today.

Tauzin was the chief architect of the now-infamous $80 billion cost-cutting deal with the White House and Senate Democrats. In return for pledging to cut that much out of their charges over the next 10 years, pharma had counted on protection from some healthcare reform proposals it didn't like, such as drug reimportation and Medicare price negotiation.

It worked for a while, as you know. But House lawmakers weren't much enamored of the deal and threatened to levy more cuts on the industry. Even so, the most recent calls for additional cuts reportedly amounted to $10 billion or so. Not much of a price to pay for millions of newly insured customers in the U.S.

As the Wall Street Journal reports, it appears that the Massachusetts Senate race has thrown Tauzin's work-with-the-Democrats strategy into question. When Scott Brown was elected, you'll recall, the Senate Dems lost their supermajority--and a sure vote for healthcare reform. But Tauzin himself isn't blaming reform politics; he's just said he wants to "explore... other interests." A cancer survivor, Tauzin did specify that his health is still fine.

- read the Los Angeles Times piece
- get more from the New York Times
- check out the WSJ story
- see the coverage from Bloomberg