PhRMA tired of talking about $80B deal

Apparently, all the talk about pharma's $80 billion cost-cutting deal isn't helping PhRMA's cause. In the latest analysis of just how the deal came to be--and whether the White House truly promised protection from future cuts--the trade group's second-in-command said he'd rather not discuss it. "[I]t's counterproductive to keep talking about it," Ken Johnson told the Los Angeles Times.

"It" in this case is whether PhRMA chief Billy Tauzin really extracted a "no-drug-price-negotiations" promise from Sen. Max Baucus and the White House. Tauzin crowed about that promise last week, and at first the White House seemed to affirm it, but then backed away from that position, saying that the topic wasn't directly discussed during discussions with the industry.

Johnson told the Times that Tauzin had made clear from the start pharma's position: "We'll do everything we can to help. But we will not support price controls, because they will hurt patients by drying up research and development needed to find new cures, and they will kill jobs in a very fragile economy." As negotiations went on, Tauzin thought he had an understanding with the White House and Congress. "We thought there was an underlying assumption on that key point," Johnson said.

Apparently, that wasn't the case. "I think a lot of people in the room walked away with a different understanding of what was agreed to," said Rep. Henry Waxman, one of the leaders of the House healthcare reform effort. Indeed.

- read the LATimes piece