President, House agitate for more drug cuts

Big Pharma's $80 billion cost-cutting deal with Washington isn't as comprehensive as the industry had hoped. In last night's news conference, President Obama suggested, "We might be able to get $100 billion out of them, or more." And that's just the beginning. Rep. Henry A. Waxman, has proposed a $63 billion cut in drug spending, achieved by reversing a 2006 policy that took low-income elderly folks out of Medicaid drug coverage and added them to Medicare, which pays more.

And then there's generic competition for biologics. The Senate may be working on a bill with 12-year exclusivity for branded versions of the pricey drugs, but Waxman advocates only 5-year exclusivity. Obama backs a 7-year protection plan. And Waxman chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is spearheading healthcare reform in the House.

"I know they have a deal with the Senate," Waxman told the New York Times, "and I think they do have a deal with the White House, but I don't know how pinned down it all is. But they don't have a deal with us--the House." So PhRMA chief Billy Tauzin is working on that: The NYT reports that he met last weekend with the Blue Dog Democrats, who control key votes on Waxman's committee. We'll have to wait and see how that goes.

- read the NYT story

ALSO: President Obama's administration began holding private meetings with health industry executives--including Johnson & Johnson CEO Bill Weldon, Pfizer chief Jeff Kindler, and Merck CEO Dick Clark--at the White House a few weeks after he took office. Report